Carbon alone forms the familiar substances graphite and diamond. Both graphite and diamond are made only of carbon atoms. Graphite is very soft and slippery. Diamond is the hardest substance known to man. If both are made only of carbon what gives them different properties?
The answer lies in the way the carbon atoms form bonds with each other.
Rotate the Graphite molecule
(Hold the left mouse button down over the image and move the mouse to rotate the graphite molecule).
Notice that graphite is layered.
While there are strong covalent bonds between carbon atoms in each layer, there are only weak forces between layers. This allows layers of carbon to slide over each other in graphite.
Rotate the structure of diamond --
Notice that each diamond atom is the same distance to each of its neighboring carbon atoms. There is a rigid network of bonds within the diamond crystal.
What is the bond length for a diamond C-C bond? --
Double click twice on first atom, drag to second atom and double click again
Try this --
1) What is the distance of the C-C bond in diamond?
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