Carbon is an tremendous element. Species carbon atoms in one way, and they become soft, pliable graphite. Re-jigger the arrangement, and — presto! — the atoms type diamond, one of the hardest materials in the world.

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Carbon is also the key ingredient for many life on Earth; the pigment the made the an initial tattoos; and the basis for technical marvels such as graphene, i beg your pardon is a product stronger than steel and more flexible 보다 rubber.

Carbon occurs normally as carbon-12, which provides up almost 99 percent that the carbon in the universe; carbon-13, which provides up around 1 percent; and also carbon-14, which provides up a minuscule amount of overall carbon however is an extremely important in dating organic objects.

simply the facts

Atomic Number (number of protons in the nucleus): 6Atomic prize (on the routine Table that 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 levels C)Boiling Point: 6,872 F (3,800 C) (sublimation)Number of isotopes: 15 total; two secure isotopes, which are atoms that the same aspect with a different number of neutrons.Most typical isotopes: carbon-12 (6 protons, 6 neutrons and also 6 electrons) and carbon-13 (6 protons, 7 neutrons and also 6 electrons)

Carbon: indigenous stars to life

As the sixth-most abundant element in the universe, carbon forms in the belly of stars in a reaction referred to as the triple-alpha process, according to the Swinburne center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.


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While scientists occasionally conceptualize electrons spinning about an atom"s cell core in a defined shell, they in reality fly approximately the nucleus at assorted distances; this check out of the carbon atom can be seen right here in 2 electron cloud figures (bottom), showing the electrons in a solitary blob (the so-called s-orbital) and in a two-lobed blob or cloud (the p-orbital). (Image credit: Physical review B, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.80.165404)

Carbon is a pattern maker. It can connect to itself, forming long, long lasting chains dubbed polymers. The can also bond through up to 4 other atoms because of its electron arrangement. Atoms room arranged as a nucleus surrounding by an electron cloud, v electrons zinging about at different distances from the nucleus. Chemists conceive of these ranges as shells, and also define the nature of atoms by what is in every shell, according to the university of California, Davis. Carbon has actually two electron shells, through the first holding two electrons and also the second holding 4 out that a feasible eight spaces. When atoms bond, castle share electrons in their outermost shell. Carbon has four empty spaces in its external shell, permitting it come bond to four other atoms. (It can likewise bond stably to fewer atoms by forming twin and triple bonds.)

In other words, carbon has options. And it supplies them: nearly 10 million carbon compounds have been discovered, and also scientists estimate that carbon is the keystone because that 95 percent of recognized compounds, according to the website Chemistry Explained. Carbon"s incredible capability to link with many other facets is a significant reason the it is vital to nearly all life.

Carbon"s discovery is lost to history. The aspect was recognized to prehistoric humans in the kind of charcoal. Carbon together coal is quiet a major source of fuel worldwide, providing about 30 percent of energy worldwide, follow to the human being Coal Association. Coal is also a crucial component in stole production, while graphite, another type of carbon, is a usual industrial lubricant.


Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon provided by archaeologists to day objects and remains. Carbon-14 is naturally emerging in the atmosphere. Plants take it up in respiration, in i beg your pardon they transform sugars made during photosynthesis back into power that they use to grow and maintain other processes, follow to Colorado State University. Animals incorporate carbon-14 right into their bodies by eat plants or other plant-eating animals. Carbon-14 has a half-life that 5,730 years, an interpretation that after that time, fifty percent of the carbon-14 in a sample decays away, follow to the university of Arizona.

Because biology stop soaking up carbon-14 after death, scientists deserve to use carbon-14"s half-life together a sort of clock to measure how long it has been because the biology died. This method works on once-living organisms, including objects make of lumber or other plant material.

that knew?

Carbon gets its surname from the Latin indigenous carbo, which means "coal."Diamonds and graphite are amongst the hardest and also softest natural materials known, respectively. The only difference in between the two is their crystal structure.Carbon provides up 0.032 percent the the Earth"s lithosphere (crust and also outer mantle) by weight, follow to the Encyclopedia that Earth. A stormy estimate of the weight of the lithosphere by La Salle college geologist David blacksmith 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.

ongoing research

Carbon is a long-studied element, but that doesn"t median there isn"t much more to discover. In fact, the same facet that our prehistoric ancestors melted as charcoal might be the vital to next-generation technology materials.

In 1985, stack Smalley and Robert curl of Rice college in Texas and also their colleagues uncovered a new type of carbon. By vaporizing graphite v lasers, the scientists created a mysterious brand-new molecule make of pure carbon, according to the American chemistry Society. This molecule turned out to be a soccer-ball-shaped round made the 60 carbon atoms. The study team called their exploration the buckminsterfullerene after ~ an architect that designed geodesic domes. The molecule is now an ext commonly well-known as the "buckyball." The researchers who discovered it winner a Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1996. Buckyballs have actually been discovered to inhibit the spread of HIV, according to a study published in 2009 in the newspaper of chemical Information and also Modeling; medical researchers room working to attach drugs, molecule-by-molecule, come buckyballs in order to supply medicine straight to sites of infection or tumors in the body; this includes research by Columbia University, Rice University and others.

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

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

Perhaps among the hottest locations in carbon research study today, however, entails the "miracle material" graphene. Graphene is a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. It"s the strongest material well-known while still gift ultralight and also flexible. And it conducts electricity far better than copper.

Mass-producing graphene is a challenge, though researcher in April 2014 reported the they could make large amounts making use of nothing yet a kitchen blender. If scientists can number out just how to make several graphene easily, the material might become large in tech. Imagine flexible, unbreakable gadgets that likewise happen to be paper-thin. Carbon has come a long method from charcoal and diamonds, indeed.

Carbon nanotubes

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

Carbon nanotubes space at the very least 100 times more powerful than steel, however only one-sixth as heavy, for this reason they can include strength to virtually any material, follow to nanoScience Instruments. They space also far better than copper in ~ conducting electricity and heat.

Nanotechnology is being used to the pursuit to turn seawater right into drinking water. In a brand-new study, researchers at Lawrence Livermore national Laboratory (LLNL) have emerged a carbon nanotube process that deserve to take the salt the end of seawater far much more efficiently than traditional technologies.

For example, classic desalination procedures pump in seawater under high pressure, sending out it with reverse osmosis membranes. These membranes then reject all big particles, consisting of salts, enabling only clean water to happen through. However, this desalination tree are very expensive and also can only procedure about 10 percent the a county"s water needs, according to LLNL.

In the nanotube study, the scientists mimicked the way biological membranes are structured: essentially a matrix v pores inside the membrane. They used nanotubes the were an especially small — an ext than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. These small nanotubes enable for a really high flux that water however are so narrow that just one water molecule deserve to pass with the tube at a time. And also most importantly, the salt ions space too huge to fit through the tube.

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