Do you know the change of carbon?

Among the more than 100 chemical elements, the most variable is carbon. So how is carbon produced? The production of carbon is related to stellar nuclear fusion, as stars evolve, the hydrogen in the star’s nucleus is converted into helium through nuclear fusion, and the star begins to collapse inward under the action of gravity, which increases the temperature and pressure inside the star until helium undergoes a nuclear fusion reaction to form carbon.

Do you know the "seventy-two changes" of carbon?

Figure Carbon graphs are derived from networks

The discovery of carbon

It has been documented that since the appearance of humans on the earth, there has been close contact with carbon. Rain and thunder, lightning, resulting in firewood burning residues such as charcoal, primitive society people use burning sticks to expel wild beasts and animals, animals are burned, there will be bone carbon left, so that carbon is known, in ancient times carbon was discovered, but the exact date of the discovery of carbon has not yet been recorded in historical records. In 1789, Lavoisier compiled the “Elemental Table”, and at this time, carbon as an element first officially appeared in the public eye.

Before that, there were traces of carbon, but it was not known that it was carbon, and there were relevant records in China’s Wei and Jin Dynasties: “Graphite can be written, and it is difficult to burn, also known as charcoal.”

Graphite was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century as a substance that was mistaken for lead, called “paintable lead”, and in 1779 the Swedish chemist Scheler co-fused the “painted lead” with potassium nitrate to produce carbon dioxide gas, which determined it to be a mineral charcoal. In 1722, the French chemist Lavoisier conducted an experiment on burning diamond, placing the diamond in a glass bell cover sealed with water, heating and finding: clarifying lime water produces white sediment when the sealed water is tested, which is the same as the results obtained by burning charcoal, Lavoisier believes that the diamond and charcoal contain the same composition, named carbon [1]. In the early 20th century, carbon was introduced to China, was named “carbon”, began to be popular use, so “carbon” is 100% C, and the use of “carbon” traced back to the ancient records of charcoal, coke, etc.

Carbon awareness

I believe that people who have studied chemistry have heard about carbon elements, blurting out that carbon ranks sixth in the periodic table, the relative atomic mass is 12.0107, the outermost number of electrons in the nucleus is 4, it is not easy to lose electrons, it is easy to get electrons, the chemical valence state is negative 4 valence and positive 4 valence, the chemical properties are relatively stable, can present single bond, double bond, three bond and other valence states, but also because of the particularity of carbon elements, the construction of a variety of carbon elements. There are currently dozens of allotropes of carbon that can be found. Such as graphite, diamond, C60, sodium carbon rice tube, etc., some scholars have divided the allotropic isomorphs of carbon into amorphous carbon, transition carbon, crystalline carbon and other 3 categories, each category contains many sub-categories. It can be seen that the number of carbon family members is huge and diverse.

Carbon applications

Carbon is a non-metallic element, due to its special structure, its chemical properties are relatively stable, often in the natural world in the form of elemental. However, under high temperature conditions, it is more active, combined with oxygen and hydrogen to form new compounds, and the carbon family is huge, and the variable application of the members of the carbon family below.

(1) Carbon and industrial fields

The use of carbon in industry can be described as miraculous, carbon elements are: diamond, graphite, coke, activated carbon, charcoal, etc., the family members are huge, so the use is also all-encompassing. Industrial carbon is mainly based on carbon as raw material, smelting metal products, industrial products, etc. For example, coke ironmaking, in 1961, when Xinhui in Guangdong Province excavated the ironmaking site at the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, in addition to finding slag, limestone, iron ore, coke was also found, which is the earliest example of coke used for iron smelting in the world.

In 1709, Abraham Darby I of England successfully used coke instead of charcoal for ironmaking and was patented for this technology. Coke ironmaking is mainly iron in the combustion process, the internal temperature of the blast furnace is controlled between 1800 ° C ~ 1900 ° C, at this temperature, iron can better redox reaction, through the charging system to continuously transport coke to the blast furnace equipment, to ensure that the internal temperature of the blast furnace is in a relatively stable state. In the smelting process, when the coke is about to reach the air outlet, the high temperature of the air outlet will cause the coke to produce a chemical reaction, and at the same time generate carbon dioxide, which will achieve a large amount of heat release. In the process of continuous growth in the amount of carbon dioxide, due to the lack of oxygen for chemical reaction, the carbon dioxide forms H2 and CO in the case of a large amount of heat, H2 and CO as the reducing agent of the iron oxide inside the blast furnace, which can reduce a large amount of iron inside the blast furnace, which is also an important chemical reaction and step to ensure the quality and yield of smelting iron inside the blast furnace.

(2) Carbon and the living field

According to the China Water Resources Bulletin, the total amount of waste sewage discharged in China in 2018 reached 75 billion tons, and the types of pollutants discharged in the water body are complex and difficult to deal with. Solving the problem of sewage is imminent, and accordingly higher requirements are put forward for sewage treatment, using environmentally friendly materials to treat sewage, without by-products, and will not pollute the environment twice, so there is an urgent need for environmental protection materials that can solve the sewage problem.

In this case, activated charcoal, a member of the carbon family, plays a magical role. Activated carbon is a carbon-containing material with special microcrystalline structure, developed pore structure, large surface area, strong adsorption, good chemical stability, acid resistance, alkali resistance, high temperature resistance and so on. Activated carbon is difficult to dissolve in water and organic solvents, can be used in gases and liquids, coupled with the hydrophobicity of the surface can adsorb various substances from aqueous solutions, according to this characteristic is widely used in the treatment of water pollution problems.

Activated carbon ranks among the best among many adsorbents, not only because of its pore structure, but also because of its chemical composition. In addition to this, the surface of activated carbon is non-polar or weakly polar, and contrary to most other adsorbents, these advantages combine to make activated carbon a high-quality adsorbent. People’s exploration of activated carbon has not stopped, and more and more technologies have been developed for activated carbon, and its application scope has expanded to improve soil, air pollution, food and so on. In short, activated carbon has played a huge role in our lives, making our lives healthier and more environmentally friendly.

When it comes to the use of carbon in life, we have to mention diamond, people love it. Diamond, also known as “diamond diamond”, is a mineral composed of carbon elements, which is the original body of diamond. Diamond color is different, hardness, strong reflectivity, can reflect a variety of different types of light, diamond as a diamond is a very valuable technical material, it can absorb the short wave band of sunlight, become the ideal reservoir of ultraviolet rays, can be sterilized for the human body, balance yin and yang qi and blood, so that the skin is full of vitality, so it is loved by people.

Thousands of years ago, India was the first place in the world to discover diamonds, and after a while, in 1725, Brazil mined a large number of diamonds, which made Brazil replace India as the most important diamond producer in the world at that time. It was not until 1867 that the real diamond kingdom came to the stage of history, that is, South Africa. In 1905, the largest diamond was found in Azashiya, South Africa: the Cullinan Diamond, which had the honor of being set on the King’s scepter, symbolizing the king’s power, South Africa’s diamond production is still at the forefront of the world, and thus ushered in a new era in the diamond industry, diamond played its sparkling light, serving people.

(3) Carbon and nano fields

The role of the carbon family in the field of nano is relatively “tall”, listen to me and everyone slowly. Nanotechnology is a technology that uses cutting-edge scientific means to control the size of molecules, and the unique physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials make nanoscience one of the three pillar sciences in the world. Carbon is an important material that nanomaterials have been seeking, attracting many scientists to explore, and many new substances of carbon elements have been discovered, from zero-dimensional fullerene C60, one-dimensional carbon nanotubes to two-dimensional graphene, and the allotropes of carbon are constantly enriched.

Fullerene C60 is a hollow spherical aromatic molecule made up of 60 carbon atoms discovered by the British chemist Crotto, the American chemist Smalley and Kohl in 1985, a zero-dimensional carbon material ——— fullerene. Fullerene C60 is a three-dimensional aromatic compound containing many double bonds, with a unique cage structure, chemists by introducing hydrophilic, lipophilic or strong polar groups to the fullerene molecule to change the interaction of fullerene molecules to make a variety of fullerene derivative nanomaterials. These fullerene derivative nanomaterials have special superconductivity, strong magnetism, high pressure resistance, chemical corrosion resistance and other excellent properties, and are widely used in the field of nanoparticle materials. For example, as a new type of nanocatalyst, water-soluble fullerene nanomaterials are used as a carrier, and a new fullerene nano-palladium catalyst is formed by coordination with palladium dioxide, which has the advantages of less dosage, convenient recovery, and reduced raw material costs.

As a hydrophobic material, because the fullerene derivative nanoparticle material has excellent hydrophobicity and strong high temperature resistance, it is used as a hydrophobic material by assembling nanoparticles, fibers and other nanomaterials that are not in the same state. Fullerene derivative nanoparticle materials as solar cells are also a good choice, made of fullerene solar cells, convenient for human use, fullerene derivatives nanoparticle materials can be used more than these, it is widely used, to people in all walks of life to bring many benefits, benefiting mankind.

Speaking of which, I would like to introduce another contribution of carbon in the field of nanotechnology, that is, carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes were first discovered by Japanese professor Sumito iijima in 1991, and according to the number of carbon atom layers in nanotubes, they can be roughly divided into two categories: single-walled tubes and multi-walled tubes. Carbon nanotubes are one-dimensional nanomaterials, lightweight, hexagonal structure connection is very perfect, with extraordinary electrical, mechanical, chemical properties, because of its specificity in many fields widely used. Because it can load a large number of small molecule drugs and biological macromolecules, it has protective and release functions, and is used as a transport of small molecule drugs and is widely used in biomedicine. Because of its good electrical conductivity, it can be used as a lightweight wire in aerospace and prepare lightweight electronic devices. Also because of its good optical and electrical properties, it is used as an electrochemical technology for food additives.


Carbon, isn’t it amazing? See if it and its partners feel like they’re all around us, low-key to every aspect of life. From the field of life closest to us, to the field of industry that is advancing by leaps and bounds; From coke as a metal product in human existence, to dazzling diamonds that express love; From activated carbon for environmentally friendly treatment of sewage to carbon nanotubes with wide range of uses such as “ladders” and more. These are all different states of “carbon” performance, these diversified properties, but also make scientists fascinated, the study of “carbon” has become their never give up the goal.

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