Carbon allotropes

What is here?

Allotropes are different structural modifications of an element. Carbon allotropes include graphene, graphite and diamond. The fullerenes form a huge number of different carbon allotropes that exist as balls and tubes of carbon atoms. The models show examples of these molecules.

Use your mouse (or finger on touch devices) to move or scale molecules. Double tap to stop and start each animation.

atom labels
ball and stick model
space-filling model
perspective view



Graphene and graphite

Graphene consists of a single sheet of carbon atoms, one atom thick. The atoms are arranged in hexagons. It is a type of fullerene (see below).

Graphite consists of layers of graphene, attracted to each other by weak forces.

carbon nanotube

buckyball (this one is C60)


Closed ball-shaped fullerenes are often called “buckyballs”. Buckminsterfullerene, C60, was the first buckyball to be discovered. Its carbon atoms are arranged in hexagons and pentagons. Carbon nanotubes can have open ends (like the one here) or closed ends.



Each atom in diamond is joined to four other atoms, forming a giant covalent structure.

An American architect, Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983), was famous for his geodesic domes. Buckminsterfullerene was named after its resemblance to these domes.
The Eden Project is a visitor attraction in Cornwall, England. Its geodesic domes house plants collected from various hot climates.