Carbon and nanoparticles

This section of the syllabus looks specifically at the allotropes of carbon in terms of understanding the differences in structure, and the way that the structural motifs can be used to explain the macroscopic properties of each form of carbon. Students will often meet diamond and graphite first as examples of giant covalent structures. This is then extended to look at graphene, which in essence, is a single layer of graphite but has quite different properties, and this can be difficult for students to understand.

Students need to appreciate that whilst fullerenes are another allotrope of carbon, their solids have a simple covalent (molecular) structure and not a giant covalent structure, since fullerenes are molecules, albeit large molecules. This is another common source of confusion for students and molecular modeling software can be very helpful in enabling students to visualise the difference between the fullerenes and other allotropes of carbon.

Other aspects relating to the bonding of carbon and the richness it displays in terms of the enormous structural variety of organic molecules is addressed in the lists on organic chemistry.

This list also covers nanoparticles, their nature, applications and potential risks. Students need to appreciate that the extremely small size of nanoparticles gives them a very large surface area to volume ratio and that this can mean that their properties differ from those of the bulk material from which they are formed.

A number of interesting resources are included to reflect the huge range of applications of nanoparticles. The included resources do not necessarily reflect the examples chosen by any particular syllabus and are illustrative of the richness of this area of technology.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or other recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance