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Last Updated : 21 Nov, 2023
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Carbon is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. The name of Carbon is derived from the Latin word Carbo meaning ‘coal’. Carbon is a nonmetallic and tetravalent atom, i.e. it forms four covalent bonds with other atoms. Carbon accounts for only about 0.025% of the Earth’s crust. Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and, by mass, the fourth most abundant element in the universe.

In this article, we will learn about, Carbon the properties of carbon, its uses of carbon, and others in detail.

What is Carbon?

Carbon is one of the basic and most important elements found on Earth and in the universe. It is found in the group – 14 of the periodic table. The symbol of the carbon atom is C the atomic number of carbon is 6 and its atomic mass is 12. The carbon atom is represented as, 6C12. The existence of the carbon atom is first proposed by Lavoisier in 1789 A.D.

Properties of Carbon

Properties of the carbon atom are added below in the article.

  • Atomic Number
  • Mass Number
  • Electronic Configuration
  • Structure

Atomic Number of Carbon

The atomic number of carbon atom is 6, as it has six protons in its nucleus.

Mass Number or Atomic Mass of Carbon

Mass number or the atomic number of any element is the sum of number of protons and neutrons in an atom and the atomic mass of caron is 12.

Electronic Configuration of Carbon

Carbon atom has 6 electrons and the electronic configuration of the carbon atom is, 1s22s22p6, or [He]2s22p6

Structure of Carbon

Carbon atom has six electrons, six protons, and six neutrons. In the carbon atom 6 protons and 6 neutrons reside inside the nucleus and 6 electrons revolve around the nucleus of carbon atom. The structure of carbon atom is added below,


Apart form this chemical properties and the physical properties of the carbon atom are added below.

Chemical Properties of Carbon

The chemical properties of the carbon is added in the table below,

Chemical Symbol








Atomic Number


Mass Number


Metling Point

3825°C (Sublimation Point)

Boling Point

3825°C (Sublimation Point)

Physcial State


Electronic Configuration


Physcial Properties of Carbon

Various physcial properties of the carbon atom are,

  • Carbon generates four electrons in order to form a covalent bond.
  • It exists in a variety of allotropes and other forms. Diamond and graphite are two examples of materials with distinct properties.
  • Under normal conditions, carbon is extremely inert.
  • This chemical element is denoted by the symbol C.
  • It has the atomic number 6 because it has 6 protons in its nucleus.
  • Carbon is nonmetallic as well as tetravalent.
  • It comes in a variety of shapes.
  • The chemical element can form bonds with other elements.

Allotropes of Carbon

Carbon has three Allotropes form, i.e. carbon exist in three forms naturally and the three alloptropic form of carbon are,

  • Diamond
  • Graphite
  • Fullerene

Uses of Carbon

Carbon is one of the most useful atom in the periodic table and is used in natural, industrial, chemical and other process. Various uses of carbon are,

  • Carbon in its Diamond form is used as Jewelry and it also has some industrial applications.
  • Carbon is used as a black pigment to decorate the rims of automobiles or used as printer ink.
  • Graphite is another type of carbon that has been used in high-temperature crucibles, arc lamp electrodes, dry cells, and pencil tips.
  • Another amorphous state of carbon is vegetal carbon, which is used as a bleaching agent and a gas absorbent.
  • They use carbon dioxide and a fire extinguisher to carbonate drinks.
  • Carbon in the solid form is known as dry ice.
  • Carbon monoxide is also useful for the reduction in a variety of metallurgical processes.
  • Carbon disulphide and carbon tetrachloride are two notable inclusions in industrial solvents.

Biological Role of Carbon

Carbon is ranked 19th in the order of elemental abundance based on weight. It is estimated that the universe contains at least 3.5 times as many carbon atoms as silicon atoms. Except for carbon, only helium, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and neon are naturally abundant in the universe. When helium is burned, the cosmic product is carbon. Three helium nuclei with atomic weight 4 are fused in this process to produce a carbon nucleus with atomic weight 12.

Elemental carbon is a minor complement in the Earth’s crust. Carbon is widely distributed in the form of coal and organic compounds. They are made up of natural gas, petroleum, and plant and animal tissue. Carbon is an essential component of the photosynthesis process. It is a natural chemical reaction sequence that involves the conversion of the carbon cycle to form atmospheric carbon dioxide and carbohydrates.

Occurrence of Carbon

Carbon is one of the most abundant mineral in the Universe and it exist generally in two states that are,

  • Free State
  • Combined State

Carbon has three naturally occurring isotopes and the isotopes of the carbon are, C-12, C-13, and C-14. C-12 is the most abundant isotope of the carbon and C-14 is the radioactive isotope of carbon and it is widely used for carbon dating.

Let’s learn about them in detail.

Free State

After hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, carbon is the fourth most abundant chemical element in the observable universe by mass. Carbon is abundant in the sun, stars, comets, and most planets’ atmospheres. Some meteorites contain microscopic diamonds that formed when the solar system was still in the form of a protoplanetary disc.

The great majority of carbonate rock masses contain carbon (limestone, dolomite, marble and so on). Coal is the most abundant commercial source of mineral carbon and is very rich in carbon (anthracite contains 92–98 %). The majority of diamond deposits are found in Africa. Diamonds are now being recovered from the seafloor off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. Diamonds are found naturally, but approximately 30% of all industrial diamonds used in the United States are now manufactured.

Combined State

Carbon can be found in the Earth’s atmosphere and is dissolved in all bodies of water. Carbon can also be found in hydrocarbons (such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas). Coal reserves are estimated to be around 900 gigatons. Carbon can also be found in methane hydrates found in the polar regions and beneath the seas.

It can also be found in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons as natural gas and petroleum, cellulose in wood, and limestone in combined states. Carbon compounds such as calcium and magnesium carbonates aid in the formation of common minerals such as dolomite, magnesite, limestone, and marble. Furthermore, the shells of clams, oysters, and corals are calcium carbonate.

Why Graphite Conducts Electricity, but Diamond does not?

In the case of diamond, each carbon atom in a single crystal is covalently bound to four other carbon atoms, forming the four corners of a regular tetrahedron. There are no free electrons available due to the four covalent bonds with each carbon atom. Diamond is a poor conductor of electricity due to the lack of free electrons within its crystalline structure.

Every carbon atom in a single crystal of graphite is covalently bonded to three other carbon atoms. Due to the fact that each carbon atom has four valence electrons, one valence electron is left free for each carbon atom. By applying electric potential, these free electrons can be easily made to flow within the crystalline structure of graphite. As a result, graphite is an excellent electrical conductor.

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Carbon – FAQs

1. What is the Atomic Number of Carbon?

The atomic number of the carbon atom is 6 as it has 6 protons in its nucleus.

2. What is the Atomic Mass of carbon?

The atomic mass of carbon atom is 12 as it has 6 protons and 6 neutrons in its nucleus.

3. What is the Electronic Configuration of Carbon?

The electronic configuration of Carbon (C) is 1s22s22p6.

4. What is the Composition of Carbon?

Six neutrons and six protons make up carbon. It is a chemical element known for its ability to create patterns.

5. What are the Properties of Carbon?

The properties of carbon atom are,

  • Carbon is the poor conductors of electrical current.
  • Carbon have high melting and boiling points in its solid form.
  • Carbon insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents such as ether, carbon tetrachloride, and others.

6. Where is Carbon made of?

Carbon atom is not made in the big bang but is produced in the star by the process of nuclear fussion.

7. What is Carbon Used for?

Carbon is one of the most important elements of the periodic table. In its amorphous form it is used to make inks and paints. Graphite is a form of carbon that is used in battery and is also used as pencil lead. Diamon another form of carbon is used to cut glass and is used as a jewellery.

8. Who found Carbon?

The credit for the discovery of the carbon goes to Antoine Lavoisier and he discover the carbon atom in 1772.

9. What Color is Carbon?

In its pure form carbon is black in color.

10. Is Carbon a Solid or Gas?

Carbon in general is in solid form. The amorphous form of carbon is in powder form and in its allotropic state such as graphite and diamond it is solid in nature.

11. Is Carbon a Metal?

No, carbon is not a metal it is a non-metal. It is found in the p-block of the periodic table.

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