Tricarbon (systematically named 2,3λ2-propadiene and catena-tricarbon) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula C
(also written [C(μ-C)C] or C
). It is a colourless gas that only persists in dilution or solution as an adduct. It is one of the simplest unsaturated carbenes.

Other names
Triatomic carbon
3D model (JSmol)
Molar mass 36.033 g·mol−1
237.27 J K−1 mol−1
820.06 kJ mol−1
Related compounds
Related alkanylidenes
Diatomic carbon
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

It is a small carbon cluster first spectroscopically observed in the early 20th century in the tail of a comet by William Huggins and subsequently identified in stellar atmospheres. Tricarbon can be found in interstellar space and can be produced in the laboratory by a process called laser ablation. Small carbon clusters like tricarbon and dicarbon are regarded as soot precursors and are implicated in the formation of certain industrial diamonds and in the formation of fullerenes. The ground state molecular geometry of tricarbon has been identified as linear via its characteristic symmetric and antisymmetric stretching and bending vibrational modes and bears bond lengths of 129 to 130 picometer corresponding to those of alkenes. The ionization potential is determined experimentally at 11 to 13.5 electronvolts.[1] In contrast to the linear tricarbon molecule the C+
cation is bent.

C3 has also been identified as a transient species in various combustion reactions.

The generation of C3 was investigated by Professor Emeritus Philip S. Skell of Pennsylvania State University in the 1960s.


The systematic names 2,3λ2-propadiene, and μ-carbidodicarbon, valid IUPAC names, are constructed according to the substitutive and additive nomenclatures, respectively.

In appropriate contexts, tricarbon can be viewed as propadiene with four hydrogen atoms removed, or as propane with eight electrons removed; and as such, propadienediylidene or propanetetraylidene, respectively, may be used as a context-specific systematic names, according to substitutive nomenclature. By default, these names pay no regard to the radicality of the tricarbon molecule. In even more specific context, these can also name the non-radical singlet state, whereas the diradical state is named propadienediylylidene, or propanediyldiylidene, and the tetraradical state is named propedienetetrayl or propanetetraylylidene.

See also


  1. Nicolas, Christophe; et al. (2006). "Vacuum Ultraviolet Photoionization of C3". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 128 (1): 220–226. doi:10.1021/ja055430+. PMID 16390150.

Further reading

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