Carbon is the most patented element in the periodic table; this is owed not only to its large number of – equally useful – allotropes, including diamond, graphite, fullerenes, but also to the element’s versatile properties, which vary widely with its allotropes. 

The chemistry of carbon is dominated by the carbon-hydrogen bond and the tetravalency of carbon. This is organic chemistry and is the chemistry of life itself. It is estimated that there are some tens of millions of known organic compounds and orders of magnitude more stable organic compounds yet to be synthesised. There’s not enough room in this post to cover even a fraction of organic chemistry so we’ll concentrate on some aspects of the physical forms of carbon. 

This article would not be complete withour without mentioning carbon fibres, which are some of the strongest materials known. William (Bill) Watt was the inventor of carbon fibres derived from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibres: His breakthrough was stretching the fibres in vacuo during the carbonisation process, which was the secret of conferring massive tensile strength and stiffness: ‘Carbon Fibre Production’ (1976).


All patent information has been obtained from Espacenet (European Patent Office).