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Like a Challenge? Question #3 Answer

In chemistry, bonds make all the difference, even when you have one type of atom like carbon.  The bonding arrangement, or how the different atoms localize electrons between the different atoms can change the overall structure, and, importantly, the properties of those different materials will likely be different as well. The picture on the left represents the bonding in diamond, while the structure on the right represents graphite, the less costly of the two. Even from these simple drawings it is possible to see that all the carbons in diamond are connected to four other carbons in a 3-D network, whereas in graphite, layered planar structures are formed where each carbon is bonded to only three other carbons in a 2-D network. That bonding contributes to toughness of a diamond, evident from its use in blades and drills to cut stone, and another type of bonding in graphite contributes to its fragility, evident from the ease of forming thin graphite layers that are left on the surface of whatever you write on with a pencil. 

Amazingly, there are many forms of carbon, known as allotropes, and many have properties that make them stronger than steel, more conductive than gold, and nearly as transparent at glass. Two newly discovered allotropes were awarded the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Physics.



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