Chemistry of Carbon

Carbon probably the most appreciate element in our daily life. This is because carbon is not only forms one of the most precious gemstone which is diamond, it also is widely involved in our daily life. Most of the materials in use nowadays are carbon compound. Common substances which made up of carbon include carbohydrate, proteins, vinegar, plastics, woods, fiber etc, the list would be very long because about 90 percent of non metallic substance would consist of carbon.

Carbon is the sixth element in Periodic table because the number of proton is 6. Valence shell is the orbital which the electrons for chemical reaction reside. The valence shell of Carbon has 4 electrons. A carbon atom is able to form bonds with 4 other atoms. One electron in the valence shell can pair up with one electron from other atom. This is how the simplest carbon compound form which is methane, CH4. As all the valence electrons of carbon are use to form bonds, methane is called saturated hydrocarbon. The simplest non saturated hydrocarbon is ethene, C2H4. The two carbons in ethene have a double bond, a bond which is made up of 4 electrons instead of 2 electrons. So the bond has extra electrons and the double bond may become single bond whenever the ethene is reacted with other particles. Ethene is the monomer for the polymer polythene. Polythene is the plastic we use daily either as a plastic bag or in the form of various plastic products.

The carbon compounds are as many as millions. So, the compounds are grouped into homologous series. The homologous series is a series of carbon compounds which have the same functional group (a group of atoms in a compound which take part in a chemical reaction). For example, ethanol or also known as ethylene glycol is in a homologous series named Alcohol. The functional group of ethanol is hydroxyl (-OH). Methanol is also from the same homologous series as it also contain hydroxyl group in its molecule. Among other homologous series are alkane (methane is from this series), alkene (ethene is from this series), carboxylic acid (fatty acids, ethanoic acid or vinegar is from this series) and ester (fats and oils).

Nowadays carbon technology has made many successful science breakthroughs. There is a technology which utilizes carbon (fullerene) as a solar cell to replace usual cell. This means the solar cell is made up of plastic and it is cheap. Carbon nanotube is another carbon material which exhibit extra ordinary strength, unique electrical properties and efficient conductor of heat.