Composition of the carbon atom
Carbon is the element of life. But what does that means ?
Carbon is an element containing 6 protons in the nucleus. The number of electrons is equal to the number of protons, so each carbon atom contain 6 electrons, 2 on the inner shell and 4 on the second shell, they are called valence electrons. Carbon has a tendency to make 4 covalent bonds to obtain the stability. In addition a carbon atom which is bonded to 4 atoms has a three-dimensional shape because that’s how the electron can be as far away from each other. So it’s the ability of carbon to bond in
a wide variety of shapes with so many elements including itself that makes it so special. Also carbon-carbon bonds are strong enough to be stable they can break and rearrange which makes them excellent building blocks.
When carbon is combined with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen and a few other elements, it makes all the diverse structures in your body, including carbohydrates, proteins, and DNA.
Allotropes of carbon: Diamond and graphite
Both diamond and graphite are made entirely with carbon atoms, but the way these atoms are arranged is different making diamond and graphite two allotropes of carbon. There is also other allotropes like graphene and fullerene.
Allotropes are different structural forms of the same element in the same physical state. So if we consider carbon in its solid state, it can take lots of different forms like diamond or graphite so we can say that these are all different allotropes of carbon.
In diamond each of the carbon atoms is covalently bonded to four other carbon atoms which is a maximum number of bonds, this sort of structure as each of these covalent bond is really strong and take a lot of energy to break them, so diamond has a really high melting point however it doesn’t conduct electricity because it has no free electrons or ions that can move.
In the graphite each carbon is bonded to only three other carbon atoms rather than four. Graphite is relatively soft compared to diamond. Graphite also has a high melting point because the individual layers are strongly held together.
So, in diamond, carbon atoms can make full covalent bonds each but in graphite they only make three, which means that each carbon atom in graphite has one electron that is not used in bonding, this electron becomes a delocalized electron which basically means that it’s free to move around. All of these free delocalized electrons allow the graphite to conduct electricity and heat.