Graphene and fullerenes are different arrangements of the element carbon. However, their structures are different from both diamond and graphite.
Graphene is a single layer of graphite, so it is only one atom thick.
The carbon atoms in graphene are joined by strong covalent bonds to form a hexagonal lattice structure.
Fullerenes are molecules made of carbon atoms that form hollow shapes. Two common examples of fullerenes are:
The first fullerene molecule to be discovered was buckminsterfullerene, also known as ‘buckyball’.
The molecule contains 60 carbon atoms, which are arranged in a hollow sphere. The spheres mostly contain rings with 6 carbon atoms, but there are also 5-carbon rings and 7-carbon rings.
Due to its unique structure, buckminsterfullerene has many uses, such as:
Nanotubes are a type of fullerene made from carbon. They are shaped like long cylinders and have rings with 6 carbon atoms.
Research into nanotubes is still in the early stages. Due to the properties of nanotubes, they have potential uses in a wide range of specialised materials and electronics.