A solid phase or form of carbon is based on fullerenes with thirty six carbon atoms (C.sub.36). The C.sub.36 structure with D.sub.6h symmetry is one of the two most energetically favorable, and is conducive to forming a periodic system. The lowest energy crystal is a highly bonded network of hexagonal planes of C.sub.36 subunits with AB stacking. The C.sub.36 solid is not a purely van der Waals solid, but has covalent-like bonding, leading to a solid with enhanced structural rigidity. The solid C.sub.36 material is made by synthesizing and selecting out C.sub.36 fullerenes in relatively large quantities. A C.sub.36 rich fullerene soot is produced in a helium environment arc discharge chamber by operating at an optimum helium pressure (400 torr). The C.sub.36 is separated from the soot by a two step process. The soot is first treated with a first solvent, e.g. toluene, to remove the higher order fullerenes but leave the C.sub.36. The soot is then treated with a second solvent, e.g. pyridine, which is more polarizable than the first solvent used for the larger fullerenes. The second solvent extracts the C.sub.36 from the soot. Thin films and powders can then be produced from the extracted C.sub.36. Other materials are based on C.sub.36 fullerenes, providing for different properties.