Carbon is the sixth element of the periodic table. These carbon facts contain chemical and physical data along with general information and history.
Basic Carbon Facts
Atomic Number: 6
Element Symbol: C
Element Family: nonmetal
Atomic Mass: [12.0096; 12.0116] IUPAC guidelines. For single value, use 12.011.
Electron Configuration: [He]2s22p2 (shorthand) or 1s22s22p2 (full)
Discovery: Carbon has been known about since prehistoric times.
Name Origin: The name carbon comes from the Latin word carbo, meaning charcoal.
Common Allotropes: amorphous, diamond, fullerene, graphene, graphite
Natural boron is comprised of two stable and one radioactive isotope.
Carbon-12 is a stable isotope containing 6 neutrons. Approximately 99% of all natural carbon is carbon-12.
Carbon-13 is a stable isotope containing 7 neutrons. Most of the rest of natural carbon is carbon-13.
Carbon-13 is a radioactive isotope containing 8 neutrons. Carbon-14 occurs naturally in trace amounts. It decays by β- decay into 14N with a half-life of 5730 years.
There are 12 known artificial radioisotopes ranging from carbon-8 to carbon-22.
Graphite: 2.2 g/cm3
Diamond: 3.513 g/cm3
Sublimation Point: 3915 K (3642 °C, 6588 °F)
Triple Point: 4600 K at 10800 kPa
State at 20ºC: Solid
Heat of Fusion: Graphite: 117 kJ/mol
Molar Heat Capacity:
Graphite: 8.517 J/mol·K
Diamond: 6.155 J/mol·K
Atomic Radius: 1.70 Å
Covalent Radius: sp3: 0.77 Å
sp2: 0.73 Å
sp: 0.69 Å
Van der Waals Radius: 1.70 Å
Electron Affinity: 121.776 kJ/mol
Electronegativity: (Pauling scale): 2.55
1st Ionization Energy: 1086.454 kJ/mol
2nd Ionization Energy: 2352.631 kJ/mol
3rd Ionization Energy: 4620.471 kJ/mol
4th Ionization Energy: 6222.716 kJ/mol
5th Ionization Energy: 37830.648 kJ/mol
6th Ionization Energy: 47277.174 kJ/mol
Common Oxidation States: +4, -4 (common), +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3 (uncommon)
Fun Carbon Facts
- Carbon’s allotrope of graphite is one of the softest materials where diamonds are one of the hardest.
- Graphite is shiny and black, diamonds are colorless transparent solids and fullerenes and amorphous carbon are both black, soot-like powders.
- Carbon atoms can form chains and rings and sealed with hydrogen atoms to form compounds called hydrocarbons. These compounds form a very large part of organic chemistry.
- Carbon is a nonmetal that can form over 10 million different compounds.
- Carbon has the highest sublimation point of all the elements. Diamonds melt around 3550 ºC and other allotropes sublime at around 3800 ºC.
- Pure carbon is one of the few elements that exists free in nature.
- Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass.
- 18% of your body weight is carbon.
- Graphite is used as a thermal insulator. It is also a good conductor of electricity.
- Carbon-14 is used to date once living matter in a process known as Carbon Dating.
Learn more about elements on the periodic table.