Encoding fullerenes and geodesic domes

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21 Scopus citations


Coxeter's classification of the highly symmetric geodesic domes (and, by duality, the highly symmetric fullerenes) is extended to a classification scheme for all geodesic domes and fullerenes. Each geodesic dome is characterized by its signature: a plane graph on twelve vertices with labeled angles and edges. In the case of the Coxeter geodesic domes, the plane graph is the icosahedron, all angles are labeled one, and all edges are labeled by the same pair of integers (p, q). Edges with these "Coxeter coordinates" correspond to straight line segments joining two vertices of A, the regular triangular tessellation of the plane, and the faces of the icosahedron are filled in with equilateral triangles from A whose sides have coordinates (p, q). We describe the construction of the signature for any geodesic dome. In turn, we describe how each geodesic dome may be reconstructed from its signature: the angle and edge labels around each face of the signature identify that face with a polygonal region of A and, when the faces are filled by the corresponding regions, the geodesic dome is reconstituted. The signature of a fullerene is the signature of its dual. For each fullerene, the separation of its pentagons, the numbers of its vertices, faces, and edges, and its symmetry structure are easily computed directly from its signature. Also, it is easy to identify nanotubes by their signatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-614
Number of pages19
JournalSIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Fullerenes
  • Geodesic domes
  • Nanotubes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics


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