Physical Properties of the Carbon Atom
Atomic Mass Average: 12.011
Melting Point: 3823 K (3550°C or 6422°F)
Boiling Point: 4098 K (3825°C or 6917°F)
Velocity of sound [/m s-1]: 18350
Hardness Scale Mohs: 0.5
Stable Isomers (2)
Carbon atom has six electrons, 4 of the electrons are in its valence shell (outershell).
The circles in the diagram show energy levels - representing increasing distances
from the nucleus.
|This diagram is, however, a simplification and can be misleading. It gives the impression that the electrons are circling the nucleus in orbits like planets around the sun. Actually it is not possible to know exactly where the electrons are located (see below)|
|A better way to look at the carbon atom is by using an energy level graph shown at the right. Here we see carbon has six electrons represented by arrows (the direction of the arrow represents the electron spin) Two electrons are found in the 1s orbital close to the nucleus. The next two will go into the 2s orbital. The remaining ones will be in two separate 2p orbitals. This is because the p orbitals have the same energy and the electrons would rather be in separate orbitals.|
Isotopes are atoms which have the same atomic number but different mass numbers. They have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons.The number of neutrons in an atom can vary within small limits. For example, there are three kinds of carbon atom 12C, 13C and 14C. They all have the same number of protons, but the number of neutrons varies.
These different types of carbon atoms are called isotopes. The fact that they have varying numbers of neutrons makes no difference to the chemical reactions of the carbon atom.
Uses of Carbon
Graphite combined with clays form the 'lead'
used in pencils.
Diamond is used for decorative purposes, and also as drill bits.
Carbon added to iron makes steel.
Carbon is used for control rods in nuclear reactors.
Graphite carbon in a powdered, caked form is used as charcoal for cooking, artwork and other uses.
Charcoal pills are used in medicine in pill or powder form to adsorb toxins or poisons from the digestive system.