Carbon is an incredible element. Arrange carbon atoms in one way, and they come to be soft, pliable graphite. Re-jigger the arrangement, and — presto! — the atoms form diamond, among the hardest products in the world.

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Carbon is additionally the crucial ingredient for many life ~ above Earth; the pigment that made the first tattoos; and the communication for technical marvels such together graphene, which is a product stronger 보다 steel and much more flexible than rubber.

Carbon occurs naturally as carbon-12, which provides up almost 99 percent the the carbon in the universe; carbon-13, which provides up around 1 percent; and also carbon-14, which renders up a minuscule quantity of all at once carbon yet is an extremely important in date organic objects.

simply the facts

Atomic Number (number of proton in the nucleus): 6Atomic prize (on the periodic Table of Elements): CAtomic load (average fixed of the atom): 12.0107Density: 2.2670 grams every cubic centimeterPhase at Room Temperature: SolidMelting Point: 6,422 degrees Fahrenheit (3,550 degrees C)Boiling Point: 6,872 F (3,800 C) (sublimation)Number that isotopes: 15 total; two secure isotopes, which room atoms the the same aspect with a different number of neutrons.Most usual isotopes: carbon-12 (6 protons, 6 neutrons and also 6 electrons) and also carbon-13 (6 protons, 7 neutrons and 6 electrons)

Carbon: from stars to life

As the sixth-most abundant facet in the universe, carbon develops in the belly of stars in a reaction called the triple-alpha process, follow to the Swinburne center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.


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While scientists periodically conceptualize electrons spinning around an atom"s cell core in a characterized shell, they actually fly about the nucleus at various distances; this see of the carbon atom deserve to be seen right here in 2 electron cloud numbers (bottom), reflecting the electrons in a solitary blob (the so-called s-orbital) and also in a two-lobed blob or cloud (the p-orbital). (Image credit: Physical evaluation B, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.80.165404)

Carbon is a sample maker. It can attach to itself, developing long, long lasting chains called polymers. The can also bond through up to four other atoms due to the fact that of that electron arrangement. Atoms space arranged together a nucleus surrounding by an electron cloud, v electrons zinging roughly at different distances indigenous the nucleus. Chemists develop of these distances as shells, and also define the nature of atoms by what is in every shell, follow to the university of California, Davis. Carbon has two electron shells, v the an initial holding two electrons and also the 2nd holding 4 out the a feasible eight spaces. As soon as atoms bond, castle share electron in their outermost shell. Carbon has 4 empty spaces in its external shell, enabling it to bond to four other atoms. (It can additionally bond stably to fewer atoms through forming double and triple bonds.)

In various other words, carbon has options. And also it supplies them: almost 10 million carbon compounds have been discovered, and scientists calculation that carbon is the keystone because that 95 percent of known compounds, according to the website Chemistry Explained. Carbon"s incredible ability to shortcut with plenty of other facets is a significant reason the it is an essential to practically all life.

Carbon"s exploration is shed to history. The aspect was known to prehistoric human beings in the kind of charcoal. Carbon together coal is still a significant source that fuel worldwide, providing around 30 percent of power worldwide, follow to the world Coal Association. Coal is additionally a key component in stole production, if graphite, another kind of carbon, is a usual industrial lubricant.


Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon offered by excavators to date objects and remains. Carbon-14 is naturally arising in the atmosphere. Plants take it it up in respiration, in i beg your pardon they convert sugars made during photosynthesis ago into power that they usage to grow and maintain other processes, according to Colorado State University. Animals incorporate carbon-14 right into their bodies by eat plants or other plant-eating animals. Carbon-14 has actually a half-life that 5,730 years, definition that after that time, half of the carbon-14 in a sample decays away, follow to the college of Arizona.

Because biology stop absorbing carbon-14 after ~ death, scientists have the right to use carbon-14"s half-life as a type of clock to measure how long it has actually been since the organism died. This technique works top top once-living organisms, consisting of objects make of wood or other plant material.

who knew?

Carbon it s okay its surname from the Latin indigenous carbo, which way "coal."Diamonds and also graphite are among the hardest and also softest organic materials known, respectively. The just difference in between the two is their crystal structure.Carbon provides up 0.032 percent of the Earth"s lithosphere (crust and outer mantle) through weight, according to the Encyclopedia of Earth. A turbulent estimate that the weight of the lithosphere by La Salle university geologist David smith is 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 3*10^23) pounds, making the approximate weight of carbon in the lithosphere 10,560,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 1.056*10^22) pounds.

recurring research

Carbon is a long-studied element, however that doesn"t average there isn"t an ext to discover. In fact, the same aspect that our ancient ancestors burned as charcoal might be the key to next-generation tech materials.

In 1985, rick Smalley and Robert curl of Rice college in Texas and their colleagues uncovered a new form of carbon. Through vaporizing graphite through lasers, the scientists created a mysterious new molecule make of pure carbon, according to the American chemical Society. This molecule turned out to be a soccer-ball-shaped ball made of 60 carbon atoms. The research study team named their exploration the buckminsterfullerene after ~ an architect that designed geodesic domes. The molecule is now more commonly recognized as the "buckyball." The researcher who found it winner a Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1996. Buckyballs have been found to inhibit the spread of HIV, follow to a study released in 2009 in the newspaper of chemistry Information and Modeling; medical researchers room working to attach drugs, molecule-by-molecule, to buckyballs in stimulate to supply medicine straight to website of infection or tumors in the body; this includes research through Columbia University, Rice University and others.

Since then, various other new, pure carbon molecules — called fullerenes — have been discovered, consisting of elliptical-shaped "buckyeggs" and also carbon nanotubes with remarkable conductive properties. Carbon chemistry is still hot sufficient to record Nobel Prizes: In 2010, researchers from Japan and the United claims won one for figuring out exactly how to link carbon atoms with each other using palladium atoms, a an approach that allows the manufacture of large, complicated carbon molecules, according to the Nobel Foundation.

Scientists and engineers space working v these carbon nanomaterials to develop materials right out of science-fiction. A 2010 file in the newspaper Nano letters reports the invention of flexible, conductive textiles dipped in a carbon nanotube "ink" that can be offered to save energy, probably paving the method for wearable batteries, solar cells and other electronics.

Perhaps among the hottest locations in carbon research today, however, requires the "miracle material" graphene. Graphene is a paper of carbon just one atom thick. It"s the the strongest material recognized while still being ultralight and flexible. And it conducts electricity far better than copper.

Mass-producing graphene is a challenge, though researchers in April 2014 reported that they could make big amounts making use of nothing but a kitchen blender. If researchers can number out just how to make many graphene easily, the material could become huge in tech. Imagine flexible, unbreakable tools that also happen to it is in paper-thin. Carbon has come a long way from charcoal and diamonds, indeed.

Carbon nanotubes

A carbon nanotube (CNT) is a minuscule, straw-like framework made of carbon atoms. These tubes space extremely valuable in a wide variety of electronic, magnetic and mechanical technologies. The diameters of these tubes are so tiny the they space measured in nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth that a meter — about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair.

Carbon nanotubes room at least 100 times more powerful than steel, but only one-sixth together heavy, therefore they can add strength to almost any material, follow to nanoScience Instruments. They are also better than copper at conducting electricity and heat.

Nanotechnology is being applied to the quest to rotate seawater into drinking water. In a new study, scientists at Lawrence Livermore national Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a carbon nanotube process that can take the salt the end of seawater far an ext efficiently than traditional technologies.

For example, traditional desalination processes pump in seawater under high pressure, sending out it through reverse osmosis membranes. These membranes then reject all big particles, consisting of salts, allowing only clean water to pass through. However, this desalination plants are an extremely expensive and also can only procedure about 10 percent that a county"s water needs, follow to LLNL.

In the nanotube study, the scientists mimicked the way biological membranes space structured: essentially a matrix v pores inside the membrane. They used nanotubes that were particularly small — more than 50,000 time thinner 보다 a human being hair. These tiny nanotubes enable for a an extremely high flux that water yet are so narrow that only one water molecule deserve to pass with the tube at a time. And also most importantly, the salt ions are too big to fit v the tube.

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The researcher think the brand-new discovery has crucial implications because that the next generation the both water purification processes and high-flux membrane technologies.