The New Carbon Materials – graphene was not the first of the exotic new forms of carbon. It all began with Buckminsterfullerene, also known as buckyballs or C60. Buckyballs are similar in structure to graphene, but some of the hexagons are reduced to pentagons causing the lattice to curve into a sphere. This is similar to the way a football, made from flat pieces cut into hexagons and pentagons, curves into a ball.
The New Carbon Materials: Graphene and Fullerenes
There has been huge excitement in recent years about new forms of carbon such as graphene, carbon nanotubes and Buckminsterfullerene (buckyballs). Probably the most talked about in recent years has been graphene, a flat hexagonal lattice only one atom thick. Other pure carbon materials contain graphene in different arrangements. For example, the graphite found in pencils is made up of flat layers of graphene that can easily slide over each other.
Carbon fibers on the other hand have crumpled layers of graphene that lock together, giving greater strength and stiffness. The weakest link in both of these materials is the connection between the sheets of graphene. When an individual sheet of graphene is isolated, it has incredible strength and other exceptional properties. Through the breakdown of graphite, graphene has existed for many years. Layers of graphene are separated every time you write with a pencil. However, graphene has only come to prominence since Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov isolated and studied it in 2004.
C60 was discovered by Harry Kroto, Jim Heath, Sean O’Brien, Robert Curl and Rick Smalley in 1985.”
“Although it has recently been discovered that the legendary Damascus swords contain small quantities of carbon nanotubes it has not generally been possible to produce products with graphene or Fullerenes until recently.”