why is graphite soft and diamond hard
allotrope Allotropes are structurally different forms of an element. They differ in the way the atoms bond with each other and arrange themselves into a structure. Because of their different structures, allotropes have different physical and chemical properties. are forms of an element that exist in the same state (solid, liquid or gas) but have different properties because their atoms are arranged differently. Diamond is one allotrope of carbon. Its properties include:
Diamond is used in jewellery because, when cut by experts, it will sparkle and reflect light in an attractive way.
Diamond's hardness and high melting point make it useful for cutting tools, such as the diamond-tipped discs used to cut bricks and concrete. Heavy-duty drill bits, like those used to drill through rocks in the oil exploration industry, are made with diamonds so that they stay sharp for longer. Diamond has a giant molecular structure. Each carbon atom is covalently bonded to four other carbon atoms. A lot of energy is needed to separate the atoms in diamond. This is because covalent bonds are strong, and diamond contains very many covalent bonds. This makes diamond's melting point and boiling point very high.
There are no free electrons or ions in diamond, so it does not conduct electricity. Many other compounds have giant covalent structures. They generally have the similar properties of hardness, high melting and boiling points, and low electrical conductivity. A good example is diamond. This is made of carbon atoms, with each joined to four others by strong covalent bonds. Diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance. It is used as a gemstone, but also on the cutting edges of drills and saws. Graphite is another giant covalent structure made of carbon atoms.
In graphite, each carbon atom is joined to three others, forming layers: The bonds between the layers are much weaker than covalent bonds. This enables the layers to slide across each other, making graphite soft. Graphite can also conduct electricity, between the layers of carbon atoms. Graphite is used as pencil lead. As the pencil moves across the paper, layers of graphite rub off. Graphite is also used as a lubricant, and as an electrode in electrolysis - for example, in the manufacture of aluminium. Now try a
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