The key difference between carbon and diamond is that carbon is a chemical element whereas diamond is an allotrope of carbon.
Carbon is a chemical element having the atomic number 6 and the chemical symbol C. It occurs in nature in different structures, which we call allotropes of carbon. These structures contain only carbon as the chemical element but the spatial arrangement of the carbon atoms is different from each other. Diamond is also a type of allotrope. The physical properties of allotropes are different from each other as well.
What is Carbon?
Carbon is a chemical element having the atomic number 6 and the chemical symbol C. It is a nonmetal located as a p block element in the periodic table of elements. According to the electron configuration of carbon ([He] 2s2 2p2), a carbon atom can form four covalent chemical bonds. Moreover, this element has isotopes (atoms of the same element having different numbers of neutrons). The most abundant and stable isotope of carbon is 12C while 13C is a stable but less abundant isotope; 14C, on the other hand, is a radioactive isotope.
Allotropes of carbon are the different structural forms of carbon which have only carbon atoms but different spatial arrangements. These are the naturally occurring forms of carbon. The most common examples are diamond and graphite. Although both these structures consist of only carbon atoms, they have different physical properties due to the differences in spatial arrangement. For example, diamond is transparent while graphite is opaque. Furthermore, some other chemical facts about carbon are listed as follows:
- Atomic number is 6
- Mass number is 12.011
- Group 14 and Period 2
- p block element
- Reactive nonmetal
- At standard temperature and pressure, it occurs in solid state
- Sublimation point is 3642 °C
- Triple point is 4600 K, 10,800 kPa
- Most common oxidation state is +4
What is Diamond?
Diamond is an allotrope of carbon. It is a solid form of carbon which has a three-dimensional shape. Moreover, each carbon atom attaches with four other carbon atoms via covalent chemical bonding. And, this crystal structure is called “diamond cubic” structure. Furthermore, among all natural materials, this compound has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity. Therefore, diamond is common in industries for cutting and polishing tools.
Some important facts about diamond are as follows:
- Falls to the category of native minerals
- Repeating unit is carbon
- Formula mass is 12.01 g/mol
- Color is typically yellow, brown, or gray to colorless
- Fracture is irregular/uneven
- Moreover, its mineral streak is colorless
What is the Difference Between Carbon and Diamond?
Carbon is a chemical element having atomic number 6 and chemical symbol C while diamond is the strongest allotrope of carbon. The key difference between carbon and diamond is that carbon is a chemical element whereas diamond is an allotrope of carbon. Moreover, the appearance of carbon depends on the type of allotrope, e.g graphite has a dark color and is opaque while diamond is transparent and appears typically yellow, brown, or gray to colorless. Although most allotropes of carbon have a lower strength, diamond is the strongest materials that naturally occur on earth.
The following table presents the difference between carbon and diamond.
Summary – Carbon vs Diamond
Carbon has many common allotropes while the strongest structure among them is diamond. Thus, the key difference between carbon and diamond is that carbon is a chemical element whereas diamond is an allotrope of carbon.
1. “Eight Allotropes of Carbon” By Created by Michael Ströck (mstroeck) – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Diamond and graphite2” By Diamond_and_graphite.jpg: User:Itubderivative work: Materialscientist (talk) – Diamond_and_graphite.jpgFile:Graphite-tn19a.jpg (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia