Materials Carbon Reaches 60

Neutrons have been use to determine how C60 molecules pack together

Neutrons have been use to determine how C60 molecules pack together
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Until very recently any physics or chemistry text book would have told you that there were just two forms of carbon: graphite – a soft, silvery black, semi-metallic material, mainly used as pencil leads and electrodes; and diamond – one of the hardest known materials, mainly used in making cutting tools and, of course, jewellery.

The difference in hardness between graphite and diamond arises from the arrangement of the atoms in each form.  In graphite hexagonal rings of carbon atoms are joined together in weakly connected sheets stacked on top of each other, whilst in diamond the carbon atoms are arranged in a vast array of rigid tetrahedra.

Now scientists have discovered a third form of carbon.

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