3.51322e
12.011
[He] 2s22p2
12C, 13C, 14C
14
2
p
6
2, 4
1086.454
C
3.51322e
Sublimes at 3825°C, 6917°F, 4098 K
Sublimes at 3825°C, 6917°F, 4098 K
Prehistoric
7440-44-0
4575370
More Information
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Diamond is a form of carbon, and it consists of carbon atoms arranged in a specific crystal structure. In a diamond crystal, each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement. This strong covalent bonding between carbon atoms gives diamond its exceptional hardness and brilliance, making it one of the hardest natural materials on Earth.

Appearance

There are a number of pure forms of this element including graphite, diamond, fullerenes and graphene. Diamond is a colourless, transparent, crystalline solid and the hardest known material. Graphite is black and shiny but soft. The nano-forms, fullerenes and graphene, appear as black or dark brown, soot-like powders.

Uses

Carbon: The Elemental Backbone of Our World


Carbon, the fundamental building block of life, is one of the most abundant elements in the universe and forms the basis of all organic compounds. While its ubiquity is well-known, carbon's versatility is often underappreciated. From diamonds and graphene to organic chemistry and energy storage, carbon's incredible adaptability has revolutionized our world in countless ways. In this article, we will explore the remarkable uses of carbon and its integral role in shaping our modern lives.

1. Diamonds: Carbon in Its Purest Form


When we think of carbon, we often picture diamonds, one of the most coveted gemstones. Diamonds are composed of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal lattice structure, and their remarkable hardness and optical properties make them highly prized for use in jewelry and cutting tools.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, diamonds have practical applications. Industrial diamonds are used in cutting, grinding, and drilling tools due to their exceptional hardness. These superhard materials are critical for precise machining and cutting in various industries, including mining, construction, and the manufacturing of electronics.

2. Carbon Fiber: A Lightweight Wonder


Carbon fiber is a versatile and lightweight material that has transformed various industries, particularly in aerospace, automotive, and sports equipment. It is made from carbon atoms arranged in a crystalline structure, similar to graphite, but with much stronger covalent bonds between the carbon atoms.

In the aerospace sector, carbon fiber composites are used to create lightweight but robust structures for aircraft and spacecraft. Their high strength-to-weight ratio helps reduce fuel consumption and increase performance. Modern airliners and spacecraft rely on carbon fiber components to improve fuel efficiency and reduce overall weight.

In the automotive industry, carbon fiber is used to produce lightweight components, such as body panels, chassis, and even entire frames in high-end sports cars. Reducing a vehicle's weight enhances fuel efficiency and performance, contributing to the development of more environmentally friendly and efficient cars.

Sports equipment manufacturers utilize carbon fiber to create products such as tennis rackets, bicycles, and golf clubs. Carbon fiber's lightweight and strength properties improve the performance of these sports items, allowing athletes to achieve better results.

3. Graphene: The Two-Dimensional Wonder


Graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, has taken the world of materials science by storm. It is hailed as a "wonder material" due to its remarkable properties, including exceptional electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and thermal conductivity.

Graphene's potential applications are vast, ranging from flexible electronics and high-capacity batteries to advanced sensors and even potential applications in medical devices. Researchers are exploring ways to incorporate graphene into various technologies to improve performance and efficiency.

4. Organic Chemistry and Life Sciences


Carbon's importance in organic chemistry is unparalleled. It is the backbone of all organic molecules, including carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. These molecules are the foundation of life and play critical roles in various biological processes, from energy storage to genetic information.

Carbon-based compounds are also integral to the pharmaceutical industry. Many drugs and medications are organic molecules containing carbon, and their development and synthesis rely on organic chemistry principles. Carbon's ability to form diverse chemical bonds is essential for creating new drugs that target specific diseases and conditions.

5. Energy Storage: Carbon in Batteries


Carbon-based materials are at the heart of most batteries, particularly in the form of anodes and cathodes. For example, the anode in a lithium-ion battery typically consists of graphite, a crystalline form of carbon. Carbon's ability to store and release electrical energy makes it a key component in energy storage systems, from small-scale applications in smartphones to large-scale use in electric vehicles and grid storage.

Graphite and other carbon materials are also used in supercapacitors, which store and release energy at high rates. These devices are used in various applications, such as regenerative braking systems in hybrid and electric vehicles and as backup power sources in industrial and medical equipment.

6. Water and Air Filtration


Activated carbon, a porous form of carbon with a large surface area, is a highly effective material for filtering and purifying air and water. Due to its porous structure, activated carbon can adsorb and remove impurities, odors, and contaminants from air and water.

Activated carbon is commonly used in water treatment plants to remove organic compounds, chemicals, and even some heavy metals. It's also a key component in household water filters, providing a simple and effective way to improve the taste and quality of drinking water.

In air purification, activated carbon is used in air filters to capture volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, and other airborne contaminants. It is particularly useful in industries like chemical manufacturing, where air quality is critical for safety and environmental protection.

7. Steel Production


In the steel industry, carbon plays a pivotal role in the production of various types of steel. The addition of carbon to iron creates different steel alloys with varying properties. Carbon steel, for example, is a strong and durable material used in construction, automotive manufacturing, and numerous other applications.

8. Art and Writing: Carbon-Based Tools


Throughout history, carbon-based materials have been used in artistic and writing tools. Charcoal, a carbon-rich material, has been used for centuries in drawing and sketching. Artists appreciate charcoal's ability to create deep, rich blacks and subtle shading in their works.

Additionally, pencils contain graphite, another crystalline form of carbon. Graphite is known for leaving a smooth and consistent mark on paper, making it the ideal medium for writing, drawing, and technical illustrations.

Conclusion


Carbon's incredible adaptability and versatility make it one of the most essential elements in the world. Its ability to form diverse compounds and structures has enabled it to play a crucial role in a wide range of industries, from aerospace and automotive to materials science and healthcare.

As we continue to explore new applications and develop advanced materials based on carbon, its importance in shaping our modern world becomes increasingly evident. Carbon is not only the backbone of life but also the backbone of innovation and progress in countless fields, quietly and steadfastly contributing to our daily lives.

History

In the vast cosmos of the periodic table, Carbon stands as an elemental superstar. Known as the foundation of life, Carbon has played a pivotal role in the development of our planet and the evolution of life itself. Its rich history spans millennia, from its discovery by ancient civilizations to its contemporary applications in technology and industry. In this journey through time, we will uncover the captivating story of Carbon, a chemical element that continues to shape our world in ways both ancient and modern.

Carbon in Ancient Civilizations


The history of Carbon can be traced back to the earliest civilizations. Ancient Egyptians, for example, used charcoal, a form of Carbon, as a fuel for cooking and smelting metals. They also employed it in cosmetics and medicinal preparations. The art of carbonization, or the conversion of organic matter into charcoal through controlled heating, was known to many ancient cultures.

The Discovery of Diamond and Graphite


Two of Carbon's most famous allotropes, diamond and graphite, have intrigued humans for centuries. The ancient Indians were the first to recognize the beauty of diamonds, mining and trading them as early as the 4th century BC. Diamonds were considered not only precious but also mystical due to their remarkable hardness.

Graphite, on the other hand, was used in ancient Greece and Rome as a writing material. The word "graphite" itself is derived from the Greek word "graphein," meaning "to write." This early use laid the foundation for modern-day pencils, which continue to use graphite as the writing core.

Carbon in Alchemy


Carbon's enigmatic properties made it a subject of fascination for alchemists throughout history. The transformation of Carbon into diamond was a particular focus of alchemical experiments. However, it wasn't until the 18th century that Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, demonstrated that diamond and charcoal were both forms of Carbon.

Lavoisier's groundbreaking work laid the foundation for understanding the role of Carbon in combustion and respiration, ushering in the era of modern chemistry.

Carbon in Organic Chemistry


The study of Carbon's compounds, known as organic chemistry, has deep historical roots. In the 19th century, chemists began to unravel the complex nature of Carbon-containing molecules. The concept of the Carbon-carbon bond became central to understanding the structure and function of organic compounds.

One of the most famous milestones in organic chemistry was the synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate by German chemist Friedrich Wöhler in 1828. This experiment shattered the prevailing belief that organic compounds could only be derived from living organisms, opening the door to synthetic organic chemistry.

Carbon in Biology and Life


Carbon's significance in the biological world is unparalleled. It is the backbone of all organic molecules, including proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. Life on Earth is often referred to as "carbon-based life" due to Carbon's role as the primary building block of living organisms.

Photosynthesis, the process by which plants and some microorganisms convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into glucose and oxygen, is the foundation of life's energy flow. It is one of the most critical biochemical reactions on Earth and forms the basis of our food chains.

Carbon in Technology and Industry


In the modern era, Carbon has taken on new and innovative roles in technology and industry. The discovery of new Carbon allotropes, such as fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, has revolutionized materials science. Carbon fibers are used in aerospace, automotive, and sports equipment due to their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.

Carbon is also at the heart of the semiconductor industry. Silicon carbide, a compound of Carbon and silicon, is used in high-performance electronics and power devices, contributing to the development of faster and more efficient electronic components.

Carbon in Environmental Concerns


Carbon's impact on our environment has become a pressing concern in recent decades. The release of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels has led to climate change and global warming. Efforts to mitigate these issues include carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and the transition to renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, the development of carbon-based nanomaterials holds the promise of revolutionizing energy storage, water purification, and even drug delivery systems, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

The history of Carbon is a remarkable saga that spans centuries, from its ancient uses in Egypt to its pivotal role in modern technology and environmental challenges. As we continue to unlock the potential of this versatile element, it is crucial to balance innovation with responsible stewardship of our planet.

Carbon's enduring legacy as the building block of life and the foundation of our technological advancements underscores its significance in our ever-evolving world. It is a testament to the enduring power of science and human curiosity to transform the way we perceive and interact with the universe.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 1.70
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 121.776
Covalent Radiues (A): 0.75
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 2.55
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
1086.454 2352.631 4620.471 6222.716 37830.648 47277.174 - -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, -1, - 2, -3, -4
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
12C 12.000 98.93 - -
13C 13.003 1.07 - -
14C 14.003 5715 y β-

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 4.5
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 200
Recycle Rate (%): Unknown
Production Conc.(%) : 46
Top 3 Producers:
1) China
2) USA
3) India
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) USA
2) Russia
3) China
Substitutability: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Producer: 24.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 56.6

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 709 (graphite)
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
Bulk Modulus: 542 (diamond);33 (graphite)
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - - - - 542 (diamond);33 (graphite)

Podcast

Whether it is in the form of nanoparticles, nanotubes or a nanostructure, carbon is the most versatile element in the periodic table. The word "carbon" was first used to describe a coal-like substance in Latin, thus the title. It is also known as koolstof in the Dutch language.

Carbon is a crucial component of all living things. Every living creature has it. Almost every organic thing has carbon as its primary compound. It can exist in crystalline and amorphous forms

During the mid-19th century, scientists were beginning to work on a way to produce a strong and high modulus carbon fiber. These materials were used in high performance applications. Originally, the fibers were made of cotton or bamboo, baked at extremely high temperatures to cause the carbonization process.

In 1886, the National Carbon Company was formed in Cleveland, Ohio. Its early products included carbon electrodes for streetlamps in the city's downtown area. In 1917, the company was bought by Union Carbide.

In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison used cellulose-based carbon fiber filaments to make the first incandescent light bulb. He also briefly manufactured carbon fiber tows from rayon.

In 1970, Toray Industries and Union Carbide signed a joint technology agreement, bringing the United States back to the forefront of carbon fiber production. In addition to PAN-based carbon fibers, Union Carbide investigated the process of carbonizing rayon. This led to the development of a new manufacturing process, which allowed the production of stronger carbon fibers.

As industrialization spread across the globe, the demand for carbon materials rose. The earliest forms of carbon fibers, made of petroleum pitch, did not have the mechanical strength to be a good structural material.

After World War II, the interest in carbon fibers was renewed in the commercial sector. Well into the 1960s, researchers from the United Kingdom devised a novel method of creating carbon fibers through production. This resulted in a stronger, higher-modulus carbon fiber product, which was subsequently licensed to Rolls Royce for jet engine fan assemblies.

Moreover, it ranks as the fourth least common periodic elements in the cosmos. Carbon can be found in almost every known living organism. Throughout the world, carbon is found in many natural forms as well as in various inorganic compounds. These compounds include hydrocarbons where Carbon, can be produced and oxidized in several ways. It can also combine with some metals at high temperatures to form alloys. This element can also combine with oxygen to form gas named, carbon dioxide. It is an important element in the biological and industrial sciences.

A chemical process called "carbon fixation" allows water to combine with carbon dioxide to form organic compounds. Plants use sunlight to transform water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates.

Depending on its crystalline structure, carbon has several allotropes. These include: graphite, black fume, diamond, carbon nanotubes, fullerene, vegetable carbon, and amorphous carbon. Their chemical characteristics are identical to those of the unadulterated form.

The crystalline structure of carbon is important to the chemical properties of the material. The properties of carbon differ from its allotropes, but in general, all of them have a solid state under normal conditions. Assuming a constant temperature plus pressure, graphite has the highest thermodynamics stability.

Catenation is an additional characteristic of carbon. This is the mechanism that allows carbon to form bonds with other carbon atoms in the form of lengthy chains. It is possible for there to be single, double, or even triple bonds. There are a great deal of other aspects that play a role in catenation.

Known as the tetravalent element, carbon has a range of properties, ranging from its ability to form covalent bonds to its versatility in forming compounds. Understanding these properties will open up new doors for carbon research.

Another property of carbon is its ability to form chains. This property allows it to form large and strong molecules. These can include the most complex organic compounds, such as starches and proteins.

One of the reasons why carbon is so useful is because it has an unusual ability to form polymers at temperatures common on earth. This means that it can be used as a lubricant, as a pigment in paints, and as a decorative tool in jewelry. Carbon can also be used in dry batteries and electric motors. It is also used as a tensile and creep resistant material for composites.

Carbon nanostructures may provide a solution to a number of pressing ecological problems. The material can be used as antimicrobial agents, as pollution prevention strategies, and as a way to remove pollutants from ecosystems. It can also be used as a renewable energy technology, and can be applied to the development of environmental sensors.

The use of carbon-based materials is increasing to treat water and air. These materials seem to be environmentally friendly and economical.

References


  • W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.

  • Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.

  • J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.

  • T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.

  • John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.