Traces of graphite are found as cave arts dated more than 32.000 years ago. The very history of mining and processing graphite reaches back to the year the 2000 BC when ancient Celts used to extract graphite and produced fire-proof ceramics.
Name of Graphite is borrowed from German (A. G. Werner 1789), it origin comes from Ancient Greek γράφω (gráphō, “I write”).
The softness of graphite results from the weak inter-planar forces. While writing with a pencil several layers of graphene planes are exfoliated.
Joseph Dixon would get his black lead (graphite) from land on the ancient Wyman Mills property to make his famous pencils of J.K. Rowling used while writing her Harry Potter series. Also, the famous London banker George Peabody before moving across the pond would sell these magic wands for him. These wands were brandished to create Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and many other tales…
“The pen is mightier than the sword”
The pencil not only outnumbers both of these, but is more useful and more used than the pen, and at once prettier, more peaceful and less disastrous and destructive than the sword.
Scientists have long debated about the origin of carbon in Earth’s oldest sedimentary rocks and how it might signal the remnants of the earliest forms of life on the planet. Read more about carbon here. New research by a team including five scientists from Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory and Department of Terrestrial Magnetism discovered that carbon samples taken from ancient Canadian rock formations are younger than the sedimentary rocks surrounding them. The carbonaceous material was in a form similar to graphite, known for its use in pencils.
Spectroscopic analysis indicated that the type of graphite is poorly crystallized. Calculated estimates of the temperatures at which this poorly crystallized graphite formed were significantly lower than the highest temperatures experienced by the surrounding host rocks. These results show that the graphite was formed after the time that the majority of the other minerals in the rock samples were created due to heating and chemical processing. This means that the carbon is younger than the rock itself!
In nature, carbon atoms come in two stable isotopes: carbon-12 and the heavier carbon-13. Living organisms, however, tend to favor carbon-12 because it is easier to transform into living tissue, Ed Yong reports for The Atlantic explains. When the critters die and decompose, they leave behind a carbon residue that contains much more of this particular isotope. At the same article we found that in a rock formation called the Saglek Block, Yuji Sano and Tsuyoshi Komiya from the University of Tokyo found crystals of the mineral graphite that contain a distinctive blend of carbon isotopes. That blend suggests that microbes were already around, living, surviving, and using carbon dioxide from the air to build their cells.
thin flakes of graphite are flexible but inelastic; the mineral can leave black marks on hands and paper; it conducts electricity, and it displays superlubricity.
Best field indicators are softness, luster, density, and streak. Each carbon atom is covalently bonded to three other surrounding carbon atoms. The flat sheets of carbon atoms are bonded into hexagonal structures. These exist in layers, which are not covalently connected to the surrounding layers. Instead, different layers are connected together by weak forces called van der Waals forces.
Each carbon atom possesses a sp² orbital hybridization. The pi orbital electrons delocalized across the hexagonal atomic sheets of carbon contribute to graphite's conductivity. In an oriented piece of graphite, conductivity parallel to these sheets is greater than that perpendicular to these sheets. The acoustic and thermal properties of graphite are highly anisotropic, since phonons propagate very quickly along the tightly-bound planes, but are slower to travel from one plane to another
Alternatively, some invoke chemical processes, like the so-called Fischer-Tropsch reactions (read more about it here) (read also about Abiogenic petroleum origin here), in which carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen react with a catalyst like iron to form methane and other hydrocarbons.
According to Michael Kleinert publication ''Carbons: From Graphite to Nanotubes'' (2011), nanocarbons are one of the major topics of today's nanophysics. Their variety of properties and applications are unsurpassed by any other known material.
Graphite consists of single hexagonal graphene sheets (A). Every second sheet is shifted (B), so that the stacking forms an ABAB order. In the planes, each carbon atom has three nearest neighbors to which it is covalently bond bysp2 hybrid orbitals. The remaining fourth valence electron is delocalized over the entire unit cell in the plane. Van-der-Waal's forces lead to the intra-planar attraction. The softness of graphite results from the weak inter-planar forces. While writing with a pencil several layers of graphene planes are exfoliated.
The class of the fullerenes (Fig. 3) is usually identified with the C60 molecule, an icosahedral structure consisting of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons commonly known as the football- or Buckminster-fullerene.
The first fullerene molecule to be discovered, and the family's namesake, buckminsterfullerene (C60), was manufactured in 1985 by Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, James Heath, Sean O'Brien, and Harold Kroto at Rice University. The name was an homage to Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic domes it resembles. The structure was also identified some five years earlier by Sumio Iijima, from an electron microscope image, where it formed the core of a "bucky onion". Fullerenes have since been found to occur in nature. More recently, fullerenes have been detected in outer space.
"It’s possible that buckyballs from outer space provided seeds for life on Earth."
Astronomer Letizia Stanghellini
These spherical molecules of carbon known as the buckyballs, jiggle, shimmy and shake. Some vibrations cause the molecules to either absorb or generate infrared light causing patterns. C60 was detected with NASA telescopes in the space in abundant.
Buckminsterfullerene, buckyballs or C60, is a powerful antioxidant that has effects on unsaturated fats, removes superoxide, which is a toxic by-product of cellular metabolism that contributes to tissue injury in many human diseases, has longevity and antioxidant effects a given its scavenging capacity for reactive oxygen species.
Some think that by absorbing nearby acid, protons, C60 is then attracted to the mitochondria and carries the protons, superoxide acceptors, to prevent the very source of damage from the electron transport chain. The proposed mechanism indicates that C60 has the ability to acquire positive charge by absorbing protons (positively charged hydrogen atoms) and this complex could enter the mitochondria, leading to a decrease in reactive oxygen species production.
Carbon has been, still is, and will be one of the most interesting topics in physics. It has an amazing variety of properties that allow scientists and industry a wide rage of research and applications. Fullerenes are the ability to enclose molecules and therefore allow applications in medicine and perhaps in quantum computing.
Nanotubes and graphene have an amazing mechanical strength combined with a lightweight that leads to a broad range of replacements for the metals such as steel.
Nanotubes and graphene are also an electrical and thermal conductivity that defeats common metals such as copper in several magnitudes. The diamond structure of carbon will become more important as diamondoids giving the ability to build individual molecules for special needs such as in the fuel industry.
Rolled single graphene sheets are 10 times lighter, as well as 100 times stronger than steel. Such a rolled sheet is also referred to as graphene, and this derivative of graphite is the world’s strongest identified material and has been used to make super-strength, lightweight sports equipment. Its high electrical conductivity, low light absorbance, and chemical resistance make it an ideal material for future applications, including in medical implants such as artificial hearts, flexible electronic devices, and aircraft parts.
Image source: www.quora.com
Graphite is a naturally-occurring form of crystalline carbon. It is a native element mineral found in metamorphic and igneous rocks. Graphite is a mineral of extremes. It is extremely soft, cleaves with very light pressure, and has a very low specific gravity. In contrast, it is extremely resistant to heat and nearly inert in contact with almost any other material. These extreme properties give it a wide range of uses in metallurgy and manufacturing.
Evolutionary research has developed a way of potentially using graphene to connect with neurons in the brain. So, with bionic limbs, this has the potential of allowing people with spinal injuries and missing limbs to learn how to use them again.
Because graphene is the world's thinnest material, it is also the material with the highest surface-area to volume ratio. This makes graphene a very promising material to be used in batteries and supercapacitors. Graphene may enable devices that can store more energy - and charge faster, too. Graphene can also be used to enhance fuel-cells.
Graphene accommodates a plasmonic surface mode (read about plasmon), observed recently via near field infrared optical microscopy techniques and infrared spectroscopy. Potential applications are in the terahertz to mid-infrared frequencies. A graphene-based plasmonic nano-antenna (GPN) can operate efficiently at millimeter radio wavelengths. The wavelength of surface plasmon polaritons for a given frequency is several hundred times smaller than the wavelength of freely propagating electromagnetic waves of the same frequency. These speed and size differences enable efficient graphene-based antennas to be far smaller than conventional alternatives. The latter operate at frequencies 100-1000 times larger than GPNs, producing .01-.001 as many photons. Thus can be used in quantum computers. Please read much more interesting things about graphene here.
After all, we can just see a tiny piece of an iceberg of this promising discoveries in a new way to approach as carbon nanomaterials in present and future technologies what is paving totally different future for the humanity. There is a lot of silence under the big noise about carbon technology what will be very soon on a massive scale.
Carbon technology is developing in different organizations from small to big companies and everyone is finding their place in this future technology. The new era and the deep space exploration are starting from here and we are all witnesses of new era in human kind - age of carbon.
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