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Structures of the Different Allotropes of Carbon.

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Sagar Manilal Chemistry 11b 05-Jan-2004 Structures of the Different Allotropes of Carbon Carbon is a very crucial element as it is there everywhere we see, it even is in our own bodies. Carbon is present in our everyday lives such as in the food and even in air which we use to survive on a regular basis. Diamonds are another form (allotrope) of carbon in is currently the strongest known substance to man. This element is in the 2nd period and 4th group of the periodic table and has a total of 6 electrons with valency of 4 electrons. These outer shell electrons allow us humans to understand its nature and so we know that is shows covalent properties and undergoes covalent bonding. This sort of bonding occurs when the electrons in the outer shell of the element bond with another element by a mean of sharing electrons where electrons are neither lost nor gained in this process. As they have four electrons in the outer shell, it has four covalent bonds as they will have a total of eight electrons with is the total number of electron this particular shell can hold. ...read more.


The electronic configuration of a carbon atom is 1s2 2s2 2p2 showing that the s-orbital electrons are full but the p-orbital ones are not. The picture below shows how this process works. The reason why the electron from the 2s2 orbital comes to the p-orbital is because the electrons are more stable when the orbital is half full. This is how the hybridization occurs which shows that they all have equal bond lengths and energy. Thus each carbon will undergo this process showing that the shape of this molecule is a tetrahedral shape. Graphite is another allotrope of carbon but has different properties that the ones in diamond. First of all, it does not have a tetrahedral structure and the carbon atoms have a shape called trigonal planar. This shows that the bonding between the electrons is not at its maximum of 4 electrons but graphite's carbon bonds with only 3 electrons. The fourth one however has a force known as Van Der Waals' force between the planar bonds shown in the picture below. ...read more.


The carbon atoms below arrange themselves in such a way that a sphere is formed. The hexagonal face is surrounded by three other hexagonal faces as well as three pentagonal faces. The carbons, having sp2 hybridization, have three ? -bonds and 1 ?-bond each. The structure however doesn't allow the electrons in the ?-bond to be delocalized which shows that is a very poor conductor of heat and electricity so acts as an insulator like diamond. The physical differences between these allotropes are also present. Such as a diamond being the hardest substance known as well as being a shinny stone, graphite is a dark solid and the bucky ball is magenta in color. Graphite and fullerene have the same hybridization state yet a different structure showing how the carbon atom has different directional properties. Diamond is at completely different hybridized states shows its distinct shape. Fullerene and diamond are both insulators and graphite is a poor conductor due to its delocalized electron. As these allotropes of carbon show their distinctness, the fact that the geometrical shape, structure, hybridized state and delocalization of electrons are also different enforces the definition of the word allotrope and furthermore concludes this investigation. ...read more.

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