Diamond is the hardest natural material known on Earth. Yet diamond is just pure carbon. What is special about this element that makes diamond so hard? Bonds. Chemical bonds.
In a perfect diamond crystal, each C atom makes four connections—bonds—to four other C atoms in a three-dimensional matrix. Four is the greatest number of bonds that is commonly made by atoms, so C atoms maximize their interactions with other atoms. This three-dimensional array of connections extends throughout the diamond crystal, making it essentially one large molecule. Breaking a diamond means breaking every bond at once. Also, the bonds are moderately strong. There are stronger interactions known, but the carbon-carbon connection is fairly strong itself. Not only does a person have to break many connections at once, but the bonds are also strong connections from the start.
Diamond is the hardest known natural substance and is composed solely of the element carbon. (CC SA-BY 3.0; Mario Sarto).
There are other substances that have bonding arrangements similar to diamond. Silicon dioxide and boron nitride have some similarities, but neither of them comes close to the ultimate hardness of diamond.
- 7.2: Ions and Ionic Compounds
- Ions form when atoms lose or gain electrons. Ionic compounds have positive ions and negative ions. Ionic formulas balance the total positive and negative charges. Ionic compounds have a simple system of naming. Groups of atoms can have an overall charge and make ionic compounds.
- 7.4: Chemical Formulas- How to Represent Compounds
- A chemical formula is an expression that shows the elements in a compound and the relative proportions of those elements. A molecular formula is a chemical formula of a molecular compound that shows the kinds and numbers of atoms present in a molecule of the compound. An empirical formula is a formula that shows the elements in a compound in their lowest whole-number ratio.
- 7.5: Covalent Bonds
- Covalent bonds are formed when atoms share electrons. Lewis electron dot diagrams can be drawn to illustrate covalent bond formation. Double bonds or triple bonds between atoms may be necessary to properly illustrate the bonding in some molecules.
- 7.6: Naming Molecular Compounds
- Molecular compounds are inorganic compounds that take the form of discrete molecules. Examples include such familiar substances as water and carbon dioxide. These compounds are very different from ionic compounds like sodium chloride. Ionic compounds are formed when metal atoms lose one or more of their electrons to nonmetal atoms. The resulting cations and anions are electrostatically attracted to each other.
- 7.7: Molecules and Chemical Nomenclature
- Molecules are groups of atoms that behave as a single unit. Some elements exist as molecules: hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and so forth. There are rules that can express a unique name for any given molecule, and a unique formula for any given name.
- 7.8: Nomenclature Summary
- Brief overview of chemical nomenclature.