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The sphere-in-contact model of carbon materials

The sphere-in-contact model of carbon materials

Zeinalipour-Yazdi, Constantinos D. ORCID: 0000-0002-8388-1549, Pullman, David P. and Catlow, C. Richard A. (2016) The sphere-in-contact model of carbon materials. Journal of Molecular Modeling, 22:40. ISSN 1610-2940 (Print), 0948-5023 (Online) (doi:

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A sphere-in-contact model is presented that is used to build physical models of carbon materials such as graphite, graphene, carbon nanotubes and fullerene. Unlike other molecular models, these models have correct scale and proportions because the carbon atoms are represented by their atomic radius, in contrast to the more commonly used space-fill models, where carbon atoms are represented by their van der Waals radii. Based on a survey taken among 65 undergraduate chemistry students and 28 PhD/postdoctoral students with a background in molecular modeling, we found misconceptions arising from incorrect visualization of the size and location of the electron density located in carbon materials. Based on analysis of the survey and on a conceptual basis we show that the sphere-in-contact model provides an improved molecular representation of the electron density of carbon materials compared to other molecular models commonly used in science textbooks (i.e., wire-frame, ball-and-stick, space-fill). We therefore suggest that its use in chemistry textbooks along with the ball-and-stick model would significantly enhance the visualization of molecular structures according to their electron density.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2016. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sphere-in-contact model, fullerene, carbon materials
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Science (SCI)
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2018 16:18

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