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What is Graphite?

Graphite is a type of crystal carbon and a half-metal along with being one of the renowned carbon allotropes.

Under the conditions that are ideal, it would be one of the most stable forms of carbon available. To define the standard state of heat for making compounds of carbons.


Table of Contents

Structure of Graphite

  • This crystal carbon has a structure that is planar and layered. Graphene is the term used to denote each layer of the same.
  • Every layer has atoms of carbon arranged in a honeycomb-like network with the division of 0.142 nm with 0.335 nm distance between planes.
  • There is a covalent bonding for atoms in the plane with the criteria being met by only three out of four probable bonding sites.
  • The graphite would be conductive electrically owing to the fourth electron having a chance to migrate into the plane.
  • The layers of the carbon crystal could swiftly move past each other as the layers could be separated easily as van der Waals bonds that are weak-hold them together.


The widely-known types of this carbon crystal viz. beta and alpha have almost the same material properties except the layers of graphene stack a little differently. The alpha crystal would seem bent or as flat. To convert one form to other viz. from alpha to beta it could be done by treating it mechanically. Then from beta to alpha conversion would be done by heating the crystal above 1300 °C.


As the photons travel faster through the planes that are narrowly built but moves slowly from one plane to the next, the carbon crystal has heavily anisotropic thermal and acoustic features. The uses of the crystal include electrodes and refractories used in applications for processing materials in high temperature all due to the single reason that

Graphite has high thermal and electrical conductivity and high thermal stability. Mainly at temperatures of 700 °C and above, the crystal carbon undergoes oxidation to form CO2.

Properties of Graphite

  • Graphite occurs in the free state but can also be prepared artificially.
  • It is a greyish black, opaque substance.
  • Lighter than diamond, smooth and slippery to touch.
  • It is a good conductor of heat and electricity
  • Carbon atoms are sp2 hybridized.
  • It is a crystalline solid
  • It melts about 1800K.
  • Non-inflammable.
  • Soft due to weak Vander wall forces

Uses of Graphite

  • In modern times, Graphite is usually consumed in steelmaking, brake linings, lubricants, foundry facings, batteries to name a few.
  • One of the important components of graphite viz. graphene has certain special features and is one of the widely known strong materials. To separate the component from the carbon crystal would require better advances in technology.
  • The uses of the crystal include electrodes and refractories used in applications for processing materials in high temperature.

From the above discussion, it is evident that graphite is one of the most prominently used things on the planet and would continue to be used in the years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions-FAQs

1. What is graphite made from?

Graphite is the crystalline allotropic form of carbon occurs in free state in nature. It can be prepared artificially by heating a mixture of sand and coke in electrical furnace about 3300 K. In graphite, the carbon atoms are sp2 hybridized. Each carbon atoms are linked by covalent bonds.

2. Where can graphite be found naturally?

Graphite occurs naturally in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist, and gneiss. Graphite occurs naturally in metamorphic rocks such as marble, schist, and gneiss. It is the thermodynamically most stable allotropic form of carbon. Its colour varies from steel grey to black depending upon the origin and has metallic lustre.

3. Which country produces the most graphite in the world?

China was the leading graphite producing country worldwide as of 2020. In that year they produced an estimated 650,000 metric tons of graphite.

4. What is the most common use of graphite?

Graphite is used to make electrodes for electrolytic cells. Being soft and greasy, it is used to lubricate the parts of machines. It is used to moderate the fast moving neutrons in the nuclear reactors. It is mixed with wax and clay make pencils.

5. What is special about graphite?

In the graphite the carbon atoms are sp2 hybridised. It relatively soft and greasy because its structure is not compact like diamond.  It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is opaque.

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