Periodic Table of the Elements: Carbon

Name: Carbon
Symbol: C
Atomic Number: 6
Atomic Mass: 12.01115
Atomic Volume: 3.42 cc/mol
Discovered By: Prehistoric discovery
Discovery Date: Prehistoric discovery
Origin of Name: Carbon - (Latin) carbo (charcoal)
Toxicity: Not toxic. Finely dispersed dust produces pulmonary fibrosis. Carbon compounds do not have common features of physiological action, and their characteristics cannot be given in a general form.
Summary: Carbon has four distinct forms:

  1. Diamond - clear crystal, cubic (tetrahedral), melting point = 3770 K, boiling point = 4200 K, density = 3.5153
  2. Graphite - black, hexagonal, melting point = 4300 K at 63.5 atm, boiling point = 4200 K, density = 2.267
  3. Amorphous - black, sublimes at 3920 K, density = 1.8 - 2.1
  4. Fullerenes - closed shells of carbon atoms, common examples are C 60 and C 70 .
Carbon is the basis of organic chemistry. All life on earth is made primarily of carbon compounds. All forms of carbon (including diamond) will burn if heated. Diamond is one of the hardest materials. Graphite consists of sheets of fused hexagonal rings. The sliding of these sheets past each other give graphite its good lubricating properties.

back to table


© Copyright 1998 David August