Carbon is the 6th element on the periodic table and is represented by the chemical symbol C. Unlike many other elements, carbon has been known since ancient times. Carbon can exist in many forms, but the best known as graphite, diamond and amorphous carbon. Carbon is the 15th most common element in the crust of the Earth and is believed to be the 4th most common element in the universe. All known living things contain carbon. If you have ever wondered how many isotopes of carbon have been discovered, keep reading to find out.
How many isotopes does carbon have?
There are 16 known isotopes of Carbon, and 3 of these occur naturally. Of these naturally occurring isotopes, 12C and 13C are stable and the other natural isotope, 14C, is radioactive (unstable) with a half life of 5,700 years. The remaining isotopes have all been artificially created and most of these have a half life of less than 200 milliseconds. The longest lived artificially created isotope of carbon is 11C with a half life of 20.38 minutes.
Did you know?
The most common isotope of carbon on Earth is 12C, which makes up about 98.8% of the carbon on the planet.
14C is used in radiometric dating to age materials that contain carbon that are believed to be less than 60,000 years old. This type of radiometric dating, sometimes known simply as carbon dating, was invented by Willard Libby and others in 1949.