Carbon (C)

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Carbon 6C12.011

Occurs naturally as graphite and diamond; known to prehistoric humans.

[Latin, carbo = charcoal]

French: carbone
German: Kohlenstoff
Italian: carbonio
Spanish: carbono

Description: Carbon occurs in three forms: graphite, diamond and buckminsterfullerene C60. It is mainly used in its amorphous forms: as coke in steel making, as carbon black in printing and as a filler, and as activated charcoal in sugar refining, water treatment and in respirators.


Further Materials properties


Crystal structure:

(cell dimensions/pm), space group, 
Cubic diamond (a=356.703), Fd3m
Hexagonal diamond (a=252, c=412), P63/mmc
Rhombohedral graphit (a=364.2, α=39° 30'), R3m
Hexagonal carbon [chaoite] (a=894.8, c=1408)
F.c.c. buckminsterfullerene C60 (a=1414)

X-ray diffractions mass absorption coefficients: CuKa 4.60 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKa 0.625 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: 0.66460 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 0.0035 sa / barns
Density: 3513 (diam); 2260 (graph.); 1650 (C60) kg/m-3 [293 K]; 6113.6 [liquid at m.p.]
Melting point: 3546.85°C / 3820°K (diam.); 3526.85°C / 3800°K (graph.); 526.85°C / 800°K (C60.)
Boiling point: 4826.85°C / 5100°K (sublimes)
Molar volume: 3.42 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 990 - 2320 (diam.); 5.7;1960 (graph) [298 K] W m-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 1.19 x 10-6 (diam.) K-1
Electrical resistivity: 1 x 1011 (diam.); 1 x 10-5 (graph.); 1 x 1014 (C60) [293 K] Ωm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: -6.3 x 10-9(graph); -6.2 x 10-9(diam.) (s) kg-1m3
Radi: C4- 260; atomic 77; covalent C-C 77; C=C 67; C≡C 60; van der Waals 185
Electronegativity: 2.55 (Pauling); 2.50 (Allred); 6.27 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 3.25 (Slater); 3.14 (Clementi); 2.87 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 8
Isotope mass range: 9 -> 16



Biological data


Biological role: Constituent element of DNA.
Toxicity Non-toxic as the element, but some simple compounds can be very toxic, such as CO or cyanide CN-.
Toxic intake: n.a.
Lethal intake: n.a
Hazards: Carbon black can be nuisance dust but is not itself dangerous, although soot may harbour carcinogenic materials.
Level in humans
Blood: 0.0016 - 0.075 mg dm-3
Bone: 300 000 ppm
Liver: 670 000 ppm
Muscle: 670 000 ppm
Daily dietary intake: 300 g
Total mass of element in average
[70 kg] person:
16 kg


Geological data


Minerals:Carbon is commonly found as graphite, very rarely as diamond, and only in minute traces as C60. Carbon is also found as fossile fuel deposits - see below - and as carbonates, in particular calcium/ magnesium carbonates - see limestone, dolomite etc.
MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Diamond  C 3.51  10  cub., crystalline, col./ pale tints
Graphite  C 2.2  1 - 2  hex., met. black sheets, sometimes crystals

Chief ores: graphite
World production: 8.6 x 109 (fossil carbon, 1996), Fossile fuel production: natural gas, 2.0 x 109;oil, 3.3 x 109; coal, 2.3 x 109 tonnes/year
Main mining areas: graphite deposits: Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Russia, South Korea, Mexico, Czech Republic, Italy. Diamonds: South Africa, USA, Russia, Brazil, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Ghana
Reserves: natural gas,127 x 109; oil, 140 x 109; coal, 1000 x 10tonnes; tar sands, n.a. but large
Specimen: available as amorphous, fullerenes, bucky tubes, diamond, graphite and soot. Safe.


Sun: 4.17 x 108 (relative to H = 1 x 1012)
Earth's crust: 480 ppm
Atmosphere: (volume) c. 350 ppm (CO2)
Atlantic surface: 23 ppm
Atlantic deep: 26 ppm
Pacific surface: 23 ppm
Pacific deep: 28 ppm
Residence time: 800 000 years
Classification: recycled
Oxidation state: IV

  Source: Emsley, J. (1998) The Elements (3rd Edition)

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Overview of elements with access to our shop

1 18
2 13 14 15 16 17
Li Be B C
Na Mg 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Al Si P S
K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se
Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo
Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I
Cs Ba La Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi
Ce Pr Nd
Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu

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