When Was Carbon Discovered?


Quick Answer

In the 17th century, carbon was acknowledged as an element. Diamond and graphite were discovered to be two forms of carbon in 1772 and 1779 respectively.

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Full Answer

Ancient humans were unaware that diamond, graphite, charcoal and soot are different forms of carbon. The first use of graphite is unknown, but the Chinese used diamonds as early as 2,500 B.C. Antoine Lavoisier's experiments in 1772 proved that diamond and charcoal are composed of the same element, which he called carbon. In 1779, Carl Wilhelm Scheele demonstrated that graphite, previously thought to be a form of lead, creates carbon dioxide when burned in the same manner as carbon.

Buckministerfullerene, called "buckyballs," and nanotube carbon molecules were discovered in 1985. Their intricate minuscule structures are only visible on the nanoscale, which requires advanced technology to view.

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