The many faces
Carbon is found everywhere on earth. It is found in the farthest reaches of the atmosphere, to the lowest depths of the oceans and is the second most common element in our body after oxygen. It can be a diamond, graphite, graphene, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. But how can one atom make so many different materials? Nanotechnology makes use of all of the different shapes of carbon for their different properties.
It’s all in the bonding
Bonding is something that atoms do to stick together and the way that they choose to stick together at the nanoscale can lead them to look completely different when they are large enough for us to see. Carbon is one element that can stick together in lots of different ways, and that determines whether it is a carbon nanotube, graphite or diamond.
The different forms of carbon
We’ve known about and been using materials like graphite and diamond for centuries. But the other types of carbon have only been known about more recently and once we knew they existed it’s taken a long time for us to be able to make them ourselves in a lab and longer still to make them in bulk for use in products.
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