|Name, Symbol, Number|| carbon, C, 6
|Group, Period, Block||14, 2, p|
|Appearance|| black (graphite)|
|Atomic mass||12.0107(8) g/mol|
|Electron configuration||1s2 2s2 2p2|
|Electrons per shell||2, 4|
|Density (near r.t.)||(graphite) 2.267 g·cm−3|
|Density (near r.t.)||(diamond) 3.513 g·cm−3|
|Melting point|| ? triple point, ca. 10 MPa|
and (4300–4700) K
|Boiling point|| ? subl. ca. 4000 K|
(3727 °C, 6740 °F)
|Heat of fusion||(graphite) ? 100 kJ·mol−1|
|Heat of fusion||(diamond) ? 120 kJ·mol−1|
|Heat of vaporization||? 355.8 kJ·mol−1|
|Heat capacity|| (25 °C) (graphite)|
|Heat capacity|| (25 °C) (diamond)|
|Oxidation states|| 4, 2|
(mildly acidic oxide)
|Electronegativity||2.55 (Pauling scale)|
| Ionization energies|
|1st: 1086.5 kJ·mol−1|
|2nd: 2352.6 kJ·mol−1|
|3rd: 4620.5 kJ·mol−1|
|Atomic radius||70 pm|
|Atomic radius (calc.)||67 pm|
|Covalent radius||77 pm|
|Van der Waals radius||170 pm|
|Thermal conductivity|| (300 K) (graphite)|
|Thermal conductivity|| (300 K) (diamond)|
|Thermal diffusivity|| (300 K) (diamond)|
|Mohs hardness||(graphite) 1-2|
|Mohs hardness||(diamond) 10.0|
|CAS registry number||7440-44-0|
Carbon occurs in all organic life and is the basis of Organic Chemistry. This nonmetal also has the interesting chemical property of being able to bond with itself (known as catenation) and a wide variety of other elements, forming nearly ten million known compounds. When united with Oxygen it forms Carbon Dioxide, which is vital to plant growth. When bonded to Hydrogen, it forms a large number of compounds called Hydrocarbons which are essential to industry in the form of Fossil Fuels, precursors for plastics and many other important compounds. When combined with both oxygen and hydrogen it can form many groups of compounds including Fatty Acids, which are essential to life, and Esters, which give flavor to many fruits. The Isotope Carbon-14 is commonly used in Radioactive Dating.
Carbon is a remarkable element for many reasons. Its different forms include the hardest naturally occurring substance (diamond) and one of the softest substances (graphite) known. Moreover, it has a great affinity for bonding with other small atoms, including other carbon atoms, and its small size makes it capable of forming multiple bonds. Because of these properties, carbon is known to form nearly ten million different compounds, the large majority of all chemical compounds. Carbon compounds form the basis of all life on Earth and the carbon-nitrogen cycle provides some of the energy produced by the Sun and other stars. Moreover, carbon has the highest melting/sublimation point of all elements. At atmospheric pressure it has no actual melting point as its triple point is at 10 MPa (100 bar) so it sublimates above 4000 K. Thus it remains solid at higher temperatures than the highest melting point metals like tungsten or rhenium, regardless of its allotropic form.
Carbon was not created during the Big Bang due to the fact that it needs a triple collision of alpha particles (helium nuclei) to be produced. The universe initially expanded and cooled too fast for that to be possible. It is produced, however, in the interior of stars in the horizontal branch, where stars transform a helium core into carbon by means of the triple-alpha process. It was also created in a multi-atomic state.
Carbon is a very important component of all known living systems, and without it life as we know it could not exist (see alternative biochemistry). The major economic use of carbon is in the form of hydrocarbons, most notably the fossil fuel methane gas and crude oil (petroleum). Crude oil is used by the petrochemical industry to produce, amongst others, gasoline and kerosene, through a distillation process, in refineries. Crude oil forms the raw material for many synthetic substances, many of which are collectively called plastics.
- The isotope carbon-14 was discovered on February 27 1940 and is used in radiocarbon dating.
- Graphite is combined with clays to form the 'lead' used in pencils.
- Diamond is used for decorative purposes, and also as drill bits and other applications making use of its hardness.
- Carbon is added to iron to make steel.
- Carbon is used as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors.
- Carbon fibre, which is mainly used for composite materials, as well as high-temperature gas filtration.
- Carbon black is used as a filler in rubber and plastic compounds.
- Graphite carbon in a powdered, caked form is used as charcoal for grilling, artwork and other uses.
- Activated charcoal is used in medicine (as powder or compounded in tablets or capsules) to adsorb toxins, poisons, or gases from the digestive system.
- Carbon Dioxide has a couple of interesting uses.
The chemical and structural properties of fullerenes, in the form of carbon nanotubes, has promising potential uses in the nascent field of nanotechnology.
History and Etymology
Carbon was discovered in prehistory and was known to the ancients, who manufactured it by burning organic material in insufficient oxygen (making charcoal). Diamonds have long been considered rare and beautiful. One of the last-known allotropes of carbon, fullerenes, were discovered as byproducts of molecular beam experiments in the 1980s.
The name comes from French charbone, which in turn came from Latin carbo, meaning charcoal. In German and Dutch, the names for carbon are Kohlenstoff and koolstof respectively, both literally meaning "coal-stuff".
The English name carbon comes from the Latin carbo for coal and charcoal, and from hence also comes the French charbon, meaning charcoal. In German, Dutch and Danish, the names for carbon are Kohlenstoff, koolstof and kulstof respectively, all literally meaning coal-substance.
Carbon was discovered in prehistory and was known in the forms of soot and charcoal to the earliest human civilizations. Diamonds were known probably as early as 2500 BCE in China, while carbon in the form of charcoal was made around Roman times by the same chemistry as it is today, by heating wood in a pyramid covered with clay to exclude air.
In 1722, René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur demonstrated that iron was transformed into steel through the absorption of some substance, now known to be carbon. In 1772, Antoine Lavoisier showed that diamonds are a form of carbon; when he burned samples of charcoal and diamond and found that neither produced any water and that both released the same amount of carbon dioxide per gram. In 1779, Carl Wilhelm Scheele showed that graphite, which had been thought of as a form of lead, was instead identical with charcoal but with a small admixture of iron, and that it gave "aerial acid" (his name for carbon dioxide) when oxidized with nitric acid. In 1786, the French scientists Claude Louis Berthollet, Gaspard Monge and C. A. Vandermonde confirmed that graphite was mostly carbon by oxidizing it in oxygen in much the same way Lavoisier had done with diamond. Some iron again was left, which the French scientists thought was necessary to the graphite structure. However, in their publication they proposed the name carbone (Latin carbonum) for the element in graphite which was given off as a gas upon burning graphite. Antoine Lavoisier then listed carbon as an element in his 1789 textbook.
A new allotrope of carbon, fullerene, that was discovered in 1985 includes nanostructured forms such as buckyballs and nanotubes. Their discoverers – Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley – received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996. The resulting renewed interest in new forms lead to the discovery of further exotic allotropes, including glassy carbon, and the realization that "amorphous carbon" is not strictly amorphous.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon#Characteristics
The allotropes of carbon are the different molecular configurations that pure carbon can take.
The three relatively well-known allotropes of carbon are amorphous carbon, graphite, and diamond. Several exotic allotropes have also been synthesized or discovered, including fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, lonsdaleite and aggregated diamond nanorods.
In its amorphous form, carbon is essentially graphite but not held in a crystalline macrostructure. It is, rather, present as a powder which is the main constituent of substances such as charcoal, lampblack (soot) and activated carbon.
At normal pressures carbon takes the form of graphite, in which each atom is bonded to three others in a plane composed of fused hexagonal rings, just like those in aromatic hydrocarbons. The two known forms of graphite, alpha (hexagonal) and beta (rhombohedral), both have identical physical properties, except for their crystal structure. Graphites that naturally occur have been found to contain up to 30% of the beta form, when synthetically-produced graphite only contains the alpha form. The alpha form can be converted to the beta form through mechanical treatment and the beta form reverts back to the alpha form when it is heated above 1000 °C.
Because of the delocalization of the pi-cloud, graphite conducts electricity. The material is soft and the sheets, frequently separated by other atoms, are held together only by Van der Waals forces, so easily slip past one another.
At very high pressures carbon forms an allotrope called diamond, in which each atom is bonded to four others. Diamond has the same cubic structure as silicon and germanium and, thanks to the strength of the carbon-carbon bonds, is together with the isoelectronic boron nitride (BN) the hardest substance in terms of resistance to scratching. The transition to graphite at room temperature is so slow as to be unnoticeable. Under some conditions, carbon crystallizes as Lonsdaleite, a form similar to diamond but hexagonal.
Fullerenes have a graphite-like structure, but instead of purely hexagonal packing, also contain pentagons (or possibly heptagons) of carbon atoms, which bend the sheet into spheres, ellipses or cylinders. The properties of fullerenes (also called "buckyballs" and "buckytubes") have not yet been fully analyzed. All the names of fullerenes are after Buckminster Fuller, developer of the geodesic dome, which mimics the structure of "buckyballs".
Carbon allotropes include:
- Diamond: Hardest known natural mineral. Structure: each atom is bonded tetrahedrally to four others, making a 3-dimensional network of puckered six-membered rings of atoms.
- Graphite: One of the softest substances. Structure: each atom is bonded trigonally to three other atoms, making a 2-dimensional network of flat six-membered rings; the flat sheets are loosely bonded.
- Fullerenes: Structure: comparatively large molecules formed completely of carbon bonded trigonally, forming spheroids (of which the best-known and simplest is the buckminsterfullerene or buckyball, because of its soccerball-shaped structure).
- Chaoite: A mineral believed to be formed in meteorite impacts.
- Lonsdaleite: A corruption of diamond. Structure: similar to diamond, but forming a hexagonal crystal lattice.
- Amorphous carbon: A glassy substance. Structure: an assortment of carbon molecules in a non-crystalline, irregular, glassy state.
- Carbon nanofoam (discovered in 1997): An extremely light magnetic web. Structure: a low-density web of graphite-like clusters, in which the atoms are bonded trigonally in six- and seven-membered rings.
- Carbon nanotubes: Tiny tubes. Structure: each atom is bonded trigonally in a curved sheet that forms a hollow cylinder.
- Aggregated diamond nanorods (synthesised in 2005): The most recently discovered allotrope and the hardest substance known to man.
- Lampblack: Consists of small graphitic areas. These areas are randomly distributed, so the whole structure is isotropic.
- 'Glassy carbon': An isotropic substance that contains a high proportion of closed porosity. Unlike normal graphite, the graphitic layers are not stacked like pages in a book, but have a more random arrangement.
Carbon fibers are similar to glassy carbon. Under special treatment (stretching of organic fibers and carbonization) it is possible to arrange the carbon planes in direction of the fiber. Perpendicular to the fiber axis there is no orientation of the carbon planes. The result are fibers with a higher specific strength than steel.
The system of carbon allotropes spans a range of extremes.
Between diamond and graphite:
- Graphite is soft and is used in pencils
- Diamond is the hardest mineral known to man (although aggregated diamond nanorods are now believed to be even harder), but graphite is one of the softest.
- Diamond is the ultimate abrasive, but graphite is a very good lubricant.
- Diamond is an excellent electrical insulator, but graphite is a conductor of electricity.
- Diamond is an excellent thermal conductor, but some forms of graphite are used for thermal insulation (i.e. firebreaks and heatshields)
- Diamond is usually transparent, but graphite is opaque.
- Diamond crystallizes in the cubic system but graphite crystallizes in the hexagonal system.
Between amorphous carbon and nanotubes:
- Amorphous carbon is among the easiest materials to synthesize, but carbon nanotubes are extremely expensive to make.
- Amorphous carbon is completely isotropic, but carbon nanotubes are among the most anisotropic materials ever produced.
There are nearly ten million carbon compounds known to science. Many thousands of these are vital to life processes. They are also many organic-based reactions of economic importance.
Carbon is abundant in the sun, stars, comets, and in the atmospheres of most planets. Some meteorites contain microscopic diamonds that were formed when the solar system was still a protoplanetary disk. In combination with other elements, carbon is found in the earth's atmosphere (around 810 gigatonnes) and dissolved in all water bodies (around 36000 gigatonnes). Around 1900 gigatonnes are present in the biosphere. Hydrocarbons (such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas) contain carbon as well--coal "reserves" (not "resources") amount to around 1000 gigatonnes, and oil reserves around 150 gigatonnes. With smaller amounts of calcium, magnesium, and iron, carbon is a major component of very large masses carbonate rock (limestone, dolomite, marble etc.).
Graphite is found in large quantities in New York and Texas, the United States, Russia, Mexico, Greenland, and India.
Natural diamonds occur in the mineral kimberlite found in ancient volcanic "necks," or "pipes". Most diamond deposits are in Africa, notably in South Africa, Namibia,[Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. There are also deposits in Arkansas, Canada, the Russian Arctic, Brazil, and in Northern and Western Australia.
The most prominent oxide of carbon is carbon dioxide, CO2. This is a minor component of the Earth's atmosphere, produced and used by living things, and a common volatile elsewhere. In [[water (molecule)|water],] it forms trace amounts of carbonic acid, H2CO3, but as most compounds with multiple single-bonded oxygens on a single carbon it is unstable. Through this intermediate, though, resonance-stabilized carbonate ions are produced. Some important minerals are carbonates, notably calcite. Carbon disulfide, CS2, is similar.
The other oxides are carbon monoxide, CO, the uncommon carbon suboxide, C3O2 and even carbon trioxide, CO3. Carbon monoxide is formed by incomplete combustion, and is a colorless, odorless gas. The molecules each contain a triple bond and are fairly polar, resulting in a tendency to bind permanently to hemoglobin molecules, so that the gas is highly poisonous. Cyanide, CN-, has a similar structure and behaves a lot like a halide ion; the nitride cyanogen, (CN)2, is related.
With reactive metals, such as tungsten, carbon forms either carbides, C-, or acetylides, C22- to form alloys with very high melting points. These anions are also associated with methane and acetylene, both very weak acids. All in all, with an electronegativity of 2.5, carbon prefers to form covalent bonds. A few carbides are covalent lattices, like carborundum, SiC, which resembles diamond.
Carbon has the ability to form long chains with interconnecting C-C bonds. This property is called catenation. Carbon-carbon bonds are fairly strong, and abnormally stable. This property is important as it allows carbon to form a huge number of compounds; in fact, there are more known carbon-containing compounds than all the compounds of the other chemical elements combined.
The simplest form of an organic molecule is the hydrocarbon - a large family of organic molecules that, by definition, are composed of hydrogen atoms bonded to a chain of carbon atoms. Chain length, side chains and functional groups all affect the properties of organic molecules.
Under terrestrial conditions, conversion of one isotope to another is very rare. Therefore, for practical purposes, the amount of carbon on Earth is constant. Thus processes that use carbon must obtain it somewhere, dispose of it somewhere. The paths that carbon follows in the environment are called the carbon cycle. For example, plants draw carbon dioxide out of the environments and use it to build biomass as in carbon respiration. Some of this biomass is eaten by animals, where some of it is exhaled as carbon dioxide. The carbon cycle is considerably more complicated than this short loop; for example, some carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans; dead plant or animal matter may become sedimentary rock, so forth. Guess what
Carbon has two stable, naturally-occurring isotopes: carbon-12, or 12C, (98.89%) and carbon-13, or 13C, (1.11%), and one unstable, naturally-occurring, radioisotope; carbon-14 or 14C. There are 15 known isotopes of carbon and the shortest-lived of these is 8C which decays through proton emission and alpha decay. It has a half-life of 1.98739x10-21 s.
The exotic 19C exhibits a Nuclear halo
Carbon is relatively safe. Inhalation of fine soot in large quantities can be dangerous. Carbon may spawn flames at very high temperatures and burn vigorously (as in the Windscale fire).
- On Graphite Transformations at High Temperature and Pressure Induced by Absorption of the LHC Beam, J.M. Zazula, 1997
- WebElements.com and EnvironmentalChemistry.com per the guidelines at Wikipedia's WikiProject Elements
- Organic chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry of carbon
- Allotropes of carbon
- Carbon nanotube
- Organic minerals
- Carbonate minerals
- Los Alamos National Laboratory – Carbon
- WebElements.com – Carbon
- Chemicool.com – Carbon
- It's Elemental – Carbon
- – Carbon Fullerene and other Allotropes models by Vincent Herr
- Extensive Carbon page at asu.edu
- Electrochemical uses of carbon
- Computational Chemistry Wiki
- Carbon - Super Stuff. Animation with sound and interactive 3D-models.
- BBC Radio 4 series "In Our Time", on Carbon, the basis of life, 15 June 2006
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Carbon. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Chemistry, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|