Diamond is one of the carbon modifications. In 1772, when the French chemist Antonie Lavoisier burned the diamond and saw that only carbon dioxide gas was released, he concluded that the diamond was made of pure carbon. High temperature and high pressure are required for carbons to form diamonds. Therefore, it occurs under the earth’s crust at the upper mantle boundary. There are also other minerals having the same carbon structure as diamonds. So, what are those diamond-like carbon minerals?
The most common diamond-like carbon minerals are graphite and coal. In 1797, British chemist Smithson Tennant conducted a new experiment and detailed that burning diamond and graphite released the same amount of gas. Thus, the chemical equivalence of diamond and graphite was discovered. Both are made of pure carbon, the feature that sets them apart is the type of bond between the carbons. While carbons form ionic bonds in graphite, covalent bonds are seen in diamonds, which causes the diamond to be harder and more durable. Diamond and coal have also the same carbon number, but their properties are completely different due to their molecular structures.
The Carbon Structure of Diamond
When combined with the temperature of approximately 1200°C from the magma approximately 150 kilometers below the earth and the pressure of approximately 60 tons applied by the earth’s crust; diamonds can be formed. The age of formation of diamonds is thought to be between 1 billion and 3 billion years. Not all diamonds found in the world are formed under the earth’s crust. It is known that meteorites also contain carbon, and diamonds are detected in the regions where they fall into our world, and while they burn many other elements from the pressure and temperature they are exposed to during their entry into our atmosphere, carbons can pass into the diamond structure.
However, these are usually smaller than 1 millimeter. In diamond, the carbon atoms are in a tetrahedral arrangement by sp3 hybridization. The bonds between carbon atoms are very strong. They do not conduct electricity except blue diamond (semiconductor). Its thermal conductivity is very good due to the strong bonds between the molecules. For example, the situation is different in graphite.
In graphite, each carbon atom is bonded to 3 other carbon atoms by sp2 hybridization with sigma bonds. The 4th electrons of carbon atoms are used in p bonds. Since this p bond is not localized, graphite conducts electricity. Many forms of graphite with the microcrystalline structure are possible, such as activated carbon, soot, bone char.
Fullerene mineral, on the other hand, is a hollow spherical, cylindrical and annular structure formed by the plane bonding of 6 carbon atoms. When combined in the form of 5 or 7 rings, the structure moves away from planarity. Its smallest size is 60 carbons and its structure resembles a soccer ball. Because of its bond stability similar to graphite, fullerene is non-reactive and insoluble in many solvents.
Diamond Like Carbon: Graphite
Graphite is only one of the minerals that are used by processing and occur spontaneously in nature. This substance generally finds a place for use in technical fields and serves this field. If you are dealing with machinery, you will definitely encounter graphite in your life. Graphite is a black-colored substance in the solids category. However, thanks to the carbon in its structure, it is not as hard as stone.
Graphite has a crystalline structure. That’s why it has a diamond-like surface. The formation of graphite is completed by the formation of rings by the allotropes of carbon. The carbon atoms are stacked on top of each other and horizontally. These plates are connected to each other after a while. Thus, graphite is formed. Graphite is a very dark-colored material, but also a very bright material. Graphite material leaves erasable traces on the paper due to its blackness. Therefore, it is the main ingredient used in pencil making.
Graphite is a soft, oily, black-colored solid that leaves marks on paper. Graphite is turned into oil and used as a lubricant in machinery to reduce or prevent running parts from rubbing against each other. The tip inside the pencils is graphite, which is slightly hardened by adding clay to it. The main places where graphite is obtained are Sri Lanka, Siberia, North America, Mexico, and Austria.
Graphite can also be prepared artificially; for this, coke must be processed at very high temperatures. Graphite can withstand very high temperatures and is also a very good conductor of electricity. Therefore, the brushes of electric motors in devices such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners are made of graphite. Recently, graphite has started to be used in the construction of heat shields of space capsules.
Both diamond and graphite are crystalline structures, but their crystals take different forms. Different crystal forms of the same substance are called allotropes; The word allotrope comes from two Greek words meaning different forms. Diamond and graphite are allotropes of carbon. In diamond, each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms, forming a solid three-dimensional structure; In graphite, carbon atoms are bonded to each other in a two-dimensional plane, forming large, flat sheets stacked on top of each other.
These sheets slide easily over each other; This is why graphite is a good lubricant. The reason why graphite leaves marks on paper is that these thin sheets of atoms are separated from graphite and deposited on the paper. Other forms of carbon do not have a distinctive, unique structure or form. The planar structure of graphite is called graphene.
Another feature of this material is that it has an oily and slippery texture. Therefore, graphite is processed into oil. This oil is used to prevent machine parts from eroding each other due to friction. Graphite is a frequently used mineral in the industrial sector. It also has the property of resisting high temperatures. It is a good conductor. It is also used as a part of the machine with its conductivity feature. Recently, he has also been involved in space-related research. It creates the heating layer of capsules sent into space.
Diamond Like Carbon: Coal
Coal is a fossil fuel composed of carbon. Coal is inhomogeneous, compact, mostly consisting of lignocellulosic plant parts, showing stratification, mostly C, small amounts of H – O – S and N elements, but might be in inorganic materials (such as clay, silt, z elements), formed in swamps, brown, flammable, solid fossil organic masses with black hues.
Coals are used for different purposes (in areas such as coke making, chemical production) as well as being a fuel raw material. Coals are produced in swampy environments, provided that suitable conditions (such as a humid and warm climate, sufficient organic matter to come to the environment, PH conditions of the marsh water to be around 4-5, the swamp to precipitate down with the material development, the swamp to be covered over time) are provided for the plant. They occur as a result of decomposition, fragmentation, turning into a gel with swamp water, and physical and chemical changes of this organic material as a result of some chemical reactions.
The following are the environments in which the swamps that produce the coals develop:
- Deltas (where the thickest coal seams form),
- Lakes (Lakeshores are suitable marshy environments where thick coal seams occur),
- Lagoons (They form fine coal veins with sea effect),
- Stream overflow plains (They form fine coal veinlets).
These buried plants; When they are exposed to increased heat and pressure, they undergo physical and chemical changes in their bodies and turn into coal. This process takes place over millions of years and coals are divided into Lignite, Subbituminous, Coal, Bituminous coal, and Anthracite types according to their organic maturity. Lignite and partially Altbituminous coals are generally soft, brittle, and dull in appearance.
The main feature of this type of coals is that they contain relatively high moisture and their carbon content is low. Anthracite and bituminous coals have relatively low moisture content and high carbon ratios. Geologically, coal ages range from 400 million years to 15 million years. Generally, aged coals are of better quality.
Made up of Same Carbon Atoms: Diamond and Graphite Relation
When we embark on that magnificent journey of the world of minerals, many unexpected surprises await us. From the most known minerals to the most mysterious; from most used to never used; The whole world, from the most common to the rarest, carries many mysteries in every corner. Just like people…
Like humans, minerals actually lead a social life(!) The environments where minerals live are rocks. Rocks are also their meeting and fusion environments. Some come from the prenatal environment called magma, they fuse; some roll from mountains, hills, fall, migrate, join a new environment. Others, on the other hand, are subjected to persecution, oppression in the communities they live in, lose their primary characteristics and undergo change… How similar they are to us, right?
Not finished! The relationship between minerals is also surprisingly similar to that between humans. For example, the quartz mineral enters almost every environment in a way that does not look like the phrase “there is no wedding without camber”. The friendship relations of some minerals are so advanced that they are inseparable from each other. Others, like people who have become enemies, do not want to see each other’s faces; they are never together. Except for the intermediary person or transactions…
Among these surprising similarities between the social life formed by humans and the rock life formed by minerals, perhaps the most important is the relationship between graphite and diamond, which sums it all up, let’s get to know these minerals first if you wish. Graphite comes from the Greek word “grapho” which means to write. Occurs in nature in various shades from gray to black, it is a soft mineral with an oily, slippery touch. Graphite, which has a hardness of 12 according to the Mohs hardness scale, is a metamorphic mineral consisting of the element carbon.
The carbon atoms that make graphite up are bonded to each other in layers. Although the bonds between the carbon atoms are relatively strong, the bonds connecting the layers are weaker. This is why graphite is slippery and soft. Because the bonds between the carbon layers are weak, the layers slide over each other. This feature gives graphite the ability to write on paper and use it in dry lubrication. Although graphite is not a good conductor of heat, it conducts electricity well, but it is not a metallic mineral. Because of this feature, it is used in battery production.
Why Graphite Is Diamond Like?
Graphite is generally massive and rarely crystalline. Graphite in crystalline form is thin, flat, sliced, and almost completely pure. Massive graphite is in the form of dense masses that do not show crystallization. Graphite is formed mainly by contact or regional metamorphism from sedimentary rocks rich in organic matter. Graphites occur in marbles, quartzites, schists, gneisses, and anthracites. Graphite can also be found in marbles as a result of contact metamorphism caused by magmatic masses intruding into limestones. It is also claimed that graphite was formed inorganically as a result of reduction from calcite in Precambrian aged rocks.
Graphite has many uses. Its oldest and most classic use is pencil making. Graphite is mostly used in this area because it is soft and also has the feature of writing. In pencil making, graphite is first ground into powder. It is mixed with clay and packaged by heating. The amount of clay and the duration of the heating process determine the hardness of the pencil. Other uses of graphite are batteries, brake linings (pads), carbon brushes, crucibles, casting vessels, dry lubrication, refractories, and the steel industry. The largest producers of graphite in the world are Mexico, Russia, and South Korea.
Synthetic graphite is obtained from anthracite, coal, or petroleum coke and accounts for the majority of graphite consumption. Graphite, with a purity of 99% to 99.5%, is very valuable and is used in nuclear reactors to reduce the reaction rate. Diamond has the same chemical composition as graphite. But the similarity to graphite is just that. These two minerals are very different from each other with all their other properties as if they were two opposite poles.
Diamond is colorless, white or yellow, orange, brown, less frequently blue, green or red, and rarely dark red, dark blue, dark green, and pink. Dark gray and black ones were also found. Diamond crystallizing in the octahedral system is the hardest mineral found in nature. It ranks at the top with the number 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Like graphite, diamond is made up of carbon atoms. However, the bonds that make up the crystal structure of diamond are much tighter. Did you know that a diamond with a hardness of 10 according to the Mohs Hardness scale is 40 times harder than the mineral corundum with a hardness of 9?
Diamond has many unique properties. First of all, it is the hardest substance found in nature. It is also a very good heat conductor and is the mineral with the highest refractive index of all minerals. That’s why diamonds have been known throughout history. The fact that the diamond has a very attractive shine and that it is very rare is one of the most important features that affect those who want to own it.
Due to its high thermal conductivity, you will feel cold if you touch the diamond at room temperature or below. If the diamond is heated, it will stay hot for a long time. The primary use of diamond is, of course, jewelry as an ornamental stone. Diamond has been among the most favorite stones of people for centuries due to their attractive appearance and rarity. That’s why diamond is expensive and also the most famous gemstone. However, only 20% of the world’s diamond production is evaluated in gemological terms.
The remaining 80% of production is used in industry. Diamond is a sought-after material in the industry. It is used as an abrasive due to its hardness and as a thermal insulator due to its thermal conductivity. It also has areas of use in the optical industry and electronics industry. Most of the world’s diamond reserves are located in South Africa. South Africa’s most famous mine is the Kimberly mine. Namibia, Russia, Australia, and Brazil are other diamond-producing countries.
As you can see, although diamond and graphite have exactly the same chemical composition, they don’t actually look alike at all. Just like people. Humans have the same chemical composition and are made up of the same organs. The percentages of water, protein, organic matter, and element in their bodies are the same. We all have two ears, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth; we all sit and stand in the same way, we eat and drink almost the same things. Although we all have the same chemistry, our souls, lifestyles, habits, and relationships are very different. Just like graphite and diamond.
Diamond is the most precious part of our mineral treasure. While we honor and value it, we look at graphite as an ordinary industrial raw material. Just as we value and love some people, and we don’t care for others. Diamond is very rare, while graphite is found almost everywhere. Some people also become a light for us with their thoughts and show us the way. Such people are very rare, like diamonds. But there are many people who look like graphite around us.
Although diamond is the hardest stone in the world, graphite is among the softest stones. Some people are also tough-tempered; Others are so mild-tempered that they don’t offend anyone and are compatible with everyone. For some, we use the phrase “child-like a diamond” because they shine like diamonds in their surroundings. Others, like graphite, are dull and insensitive.
Graphene: The New Carbon-Like Material
Carbon is the most important building block of living and non-living nature, its utility value is very high. Its low density, suitable electron structure, being in different forms (such as diamond, graphite), and easy bonding (with oxygen and hydrogen) make it even more important. The average carbon content of the earth’s crust at a depth suitable for mining is 2 per thousand. However, regional C agglomerations (we call them coal, lignite, oil, natural gas, etc.) are suitable for their economic production and consumption.
Graphene is the smallest crystal composed of C atomic arrays a few atoms thick. The importance of graphene is increasing day by day with its strength, conductivity, and other beneficial properties. In the future, it can be used in high-capacity batteries, light and durable aircraft wings. According to the researchers, graphene will extend to everything from personal care to shoes. Hair dye is obtained by mixing graphene thin sheets and foils with water and chitosan. The graphene sheets adhere to each other and the black charcoal color remains stable without dissolving even in the bath for 30 days.
C atoms on natural material surfaces can be arranged as a combination of hexagonal crystals in the form of graphene. If the skin, plastic, fabric, or food surface is burned with a laser, it becomes charred. If this is done in a controlled and planned manner, the carbon atoms in the material are arranged in the form of graphene. In this way, the barcoded radio wave identification system of clothes, paper, bread, and goods is fitted to the item. Advanced functions can be loaded onto the surface of the product with multiple laser passes. The first pass is amorphous carbon, the second pass is a honeycomb C cluster and provides identification.
If the shoe rubber sole is reinforced with graphene, it gains strength and flexibility. In addition to its germ-killing effect in summer sandals, it gives the comfort of quickly removing the heat and keeping the feet cool. Carbon and its latest advanced derivative, graphene, have so many applications that offer hope and make life easier since they are innumerable. Let’s not be surprised when we see it come into our lives one by one.
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