• Graphene consists of a single layer of graphite which is a sheet of carbon atoms covalently bonded forming hexagonal shapes.
  • It is essentially a 2D molecule since it is only one atom thick yet it is extremely strong but also amazingly light.
  • It has free electrons which can move along its surface allowing it to conduct electricity.
  • These properties make it useful in fabricating composite materials and in electronics.

Structure of Graphene, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Diagram showing the structure of a flexible 2 dimensional sheet of graphene


  • Fullerenes are a group of carbon allotropes which consist of molecules made only of carbon and which form hollow tubes or spheres.
  • Fullerenes can be used to trap other molecules by forming around the target molecule and capturing it, making them useful for targeted drug delivery systems.
  • They also have a huge surface area and are useful for trapping catalyst molecules onto their surfaces making them easily accessible to reactants so catalysis can take place.
  • Some fullerenes are excellent lubricants and are used in many industrial processes.
  • The first fullerene to be discovered was Buckminsterfullerene which is commonly referred to as “Buckyballs”.
  • In this fullerene 60 carbon atoms are joined together forming 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons which produce a hollow sphere.

Structure of Buckminsterfullerene, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Diagram showing the structure of Buckminsterfullerene


  • Graphene can also be rolled into a cylinder to produce an interesting type of fullerene called a nanotube.
  • These have high tensile strength and are resistant to breaking or stretching.
  • As in graphene, nanotubes can also conduct electricity which makes them useful in composites and specialised materials, electronics and nanotechnology.

Structure of Nanotubes, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Diagram showing the structure of nanotube produced from a rolled sheet of graphene

AQA GCSE Chemistry Notes

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.