The carbon cycle describes the different pools and fluxes of carbon in our atmosphere. Recorded webinars about the topic are available.


In chemistry, carbon is the most versatile element. Ejected from dying stars, it can link up with almost any other atom to create a host of chemical compounds with unique properties. August Kekule and Archibald Scott Couper were among the first to understand how atomic carbon molecules could bond together, leading to the discovery of nylon and many other synthetic materials.

More recently, CCCE researchers have developed new methods to create complex inorganic and organic molecules with a range of useful functions. These discoveries include a new class of all-carbon clusters with applications in photovoltaic materials and catalysis. They have also pushed limits on the number of metal-carbon bonds that can be built on one metal center, a key issue in organometallic chemistry, and created long ‘carbon scarf’ molecules with superior light-absorbing capabilities.

CCCE researchers are also working hard to develop sustainable solutions to major global challenges. For example, they are tackling the challenge of developing energy-efficient, low-carbon chemical separation technologies that can replace traditional processes. This will reduce energy costs and emissions, helping the world meet its climate change goals as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Other researchers are developing sustainable luminescent materials for use in everything from energy-efficient displays to bioimaging and photocatalysis. Dr Zac Hudson, a Canada Research Chair in Luminescent Materials Chemistry, describes his research and how it relates to sustainability.


CCCE scientists explore new catalytic methods and materials for sustainable carbon utilization. For example, they have discovered how to convert C1 molecules with carbon series atom into multi-carbon chemicals of higher value by exposing them to photons. They have also developed cheap noble-metal-free electrocatalysts with record-high power density for fuel cells.

Against this backdrop of scientific discovery, the first season of Altered Carbon is set in a futuristic world where consciousness can be digitally stored and restored to physical bodies. It features the action-packed adventures of Takeshi Kovacs, a future bounty hunter who investigates a murder and a mind-bending murder conspiracy alongside his partner, a no-nonsense CTAC with her own agenda.

These events, and many others like them around the globe, are the direct result of our ongoing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And yet it is often those communities that contributed least to present-day carbon emissions—like minority and indigenous people in the United States, and low- and middle-income countries and small island developing states around the world—who are most vulnerable today to climate change’s risks and impacts.


The black material of choice for sportscars, racecars and even whole vehicles – carbon guarantees high stiffness with a low specific weight. It’s no wonder engineers love this lightweight material. It also exudes classiness and dynamism. That’s why the car manufacturer BMW offers components made of visible carbon in its M Performance Parts.

Aside from being a remarkably stable material, carbon has many other properties that make it a highly desirable material for the manufacture of various products. Its tensile strength is superior to that of steel, while its modulus (the measure of how elastic a material is) is higher than that of aluminum. It is also extremely resistant to corrosion, and its hardness is comparable to that of diamonds.

Carbon’s unique properties have led to the development of a wide variety of materials that have revolutionized industries. A number of these are now widely used in everyday applications, such as plastics, composites and fibers.

In the energy sector, Sandia scientists have used powerful computers to design carbon-based materials that can capture and store carbon dioxide. This is a critical step toward reducing the risk of the climate crisis and making us less dependent on fossil fuels.

Scientists across a broad range of disciplines are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to global issues such as environmental and sustainability concerns. Their tireless efforts are helping to create healthier, safer and more resilient environments for future generations.


Carbon is one of the most versatile elements in existence. It can form long chains of carbon-carbon bonds to form a host of organic compounds that are used as fuels, plastics, and lubricants. It can also be arranged in nanoscale allotropes that have zero (flat) or positive (sphere-shaped) curvatures to form more exotic carbon-based structures. These structures exhibit unique properties that are useful in a wide range of applications including energy harvesting, conversion and storage, catalyzing chemical reactions, and separating molecular ions and gases.

The element has been around for a very long time. Archaeological evidence shows that our prehistoric ancestors burned it as charcoal, and the tattoos of Otzi the Iceman were inked with carbon, as reported in a 2009 study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. However, just because the element is a familiar and well-known material does not mean that there isn’t more to discover about it.

Indeed, carbon chemistry has recently been hot enough to earn researchers a Nobel Prize for figuring out how to link together carbon atoms in order to manufacture new, pure carbon molecules. These new molecules, called fullerenes, are soccer-ball-shaped spheres made up of 60 carbon atoms and have amazing conductive properties.

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