Is Diamond a Mineral or an Element?

Diamond is one of the carbon element’s allotropes. At ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure, it exists as a solid.

Carbon element can form a long chain with itself, i.e., C-C-C-C-C-C… owing to its catenation property i.e., the carbon atom can form a bond with another carbon atom.

As a result, the carbon atom can take on a variety of structural configurations, each with its own set of physical and chemical properties. Allotropy refers to the ability of carbon to exist in a variety of structural configurations.

Allotropes are the diverse structural variations. These allotropes are almost often found in the same phase. In the case of the carbon atom, for example, all allotropes are present in the solid phase.

The majority of students are unsure whether diamond is an element or a compound. So, in this article, I’ll discuss the distinction between element and compound in relation to diamond.

Is diamond, then, an element? Because diamond is a crystalline form of a single element, carbon, it is categorised as an element. Diamond has a cubic structure, meaning one carbon atom is tetrahedrally connected to four other carbon atoms. All three directions are expanded in this tetrahedral structure. As a result, it’s occasionally referred to as a mineral, but it’s definitely not a compound.

Diamond, on the other hand, becomes a compound when boron and nitrogen are introduced as impurities. The impurities give the Diamond distinct colours; otherwise, it is colourless.

Graphite, Diamond, single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs), Buckminsterfullerene (C60), amorphous carbon, C540 fullerite, C70 fullerene, graphene, and Lonsdaleite are all allotropes of carbon.

The three primary allotropes of the carbon atom are graphite, diamond, and buckminsterfullerene.

We’ll concentrate on the diamond, a carbon allotrope.

At a depth of 150-250 kilometres, diamond can be discovered naturally in the Earth’s mantle.

It can also be made chemically via vapour deposition of hydrocarbons or by treating the carbon atom at high temperatures and pressures.

So, let’s take a closer look at it. Prior to that, we must understand the terms Atom, Element, and Compound, which are the fundamental ideas of chemistry.

The terms atom, element, and compound are all used interchangeably.

We are all aware that matter can exist in three physical states: solid, liquid, and gas. However, depending on the chemical makeup of constituent particles, matter might be classed as a pure entity or a mixture.

Atoms are the basic building blocks of the universe. According to Dalton’s hypothesis, the atom is the fundamental unit of matter. Scientists later discovered that an atom is made up of subatomic particles such as the electron, proton, and neutron.

Atoms, on the other hand, are required to differentiate matter based on their categories. Elements and compounds are formed when atoms combine.

On the basis of the type of atoms involved in the formation of pure substance, it is further classified as an element or a compound.

Elements are made up of only one sort of atom particle. Atoms or molecules can be involved. Carbon atoms (C), silicon atoms (Si), and argon atoms (Ar) are examples of elements.

Element representations include the oxygen molecule (O2), nitrogen molecule (N2), and hydrogen molecule (H2).

A compound is made up of particles that are made up of different types of atoms or elements. Some of the chemicals are carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and ammonia (NH3).

Carbon dioxide is made up of two elements: carbon and oxygen. Ammonia and water, for example, both contain two types of elements. As a result, all three are classified as compounds.

We can tell whether a Diamond is an element or a compound now.

What is the significance of diamond as an element?

We can deduce from the definitions of the element and compound that

Because diamond has only one sort of atom, the carbon atom, it is classified as an element. Diamond does not contain any other atoms, hence it cannot be a compound.

Diamond is a chemical element, just as hydrogen (H2), oxygen (O2), and nitrogen (N2).

However, by adding elemental impurities like boron and nitrogen, they can be classified as compounds. Boron and nitrogen impurities give the Diamond a blue and yellow/brown colour, respectively.

These impurities are dispersed throughout the crystal but do not contribute to its structure. Diamond is a compound made up of more than one type of element, such as carbon, nitrogen, or boron.

Let’s look at some of the characteristics of Diamond, a carbon allotrope.

Diamond Characteristics

The diamond is a solid allotrope of the carbon atom, as previously explained. The atoms of carbon are organised in a cubic configuration.

It is a natural substance with the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material. As a result, diamond is used to cut and polish. A diamond cutter, for example, is used to cut glass.

The crystal structure of the Diamond explains its electrical neutrality and hardness. Let’s look at the structure of diamond and how its unique qualities are explained.

Diamond’s Structure

In terms of bonding, the structure of diamond is identical to that of the most stable allotrope of carbon, Graphite.

Diamond’s carbon atom is tetrahedral and covalently connected to the other four carbon atoms in its crystal structure. It results in the creation of a three-dimensional covalent network lattice.

As a result, Diamond’s crystal structure would be:

The steric number of carbon atoms can be used to determine that each carbon in the covalent network lattice is sp3 hybridised.

The steric number of an atom is calculated by adding the number of bond pairs and the number of lone pairs.

In the Diamond structure, the number of bond pairs on carbon atoms is 4, whereas the number of lone pairs on carbon atoms is 0.

As a result, the carbon atom’s steric number is 4, resulting in sp3 hybridization.

The cubic structure is formed by the covalently bonded network lattice, which can be described as:

Let’s look at how the Diamond’s structure relates to its unique qualities.

Diamond Structure-Property Relationship

Diamond’s unique features can be described using its covalent network lattice.

The highest hardness, very high melting point, electrical neutrality, non-conductor of electricity but the best heat conductor, and significant optical dispersion are some of the Diamond’s distinctive features.

Let us look at the relationship between the Diamond’s unique features and its structure, the Giant Covalent Network Lattice.

Diamond’s covalent bond is extremely strong, making it extremely hard. As a result of its massive covalent network, Diamond has the highest hardness of any natural stone on the planet.

Due to the strong covalent bond, the melting point of the Diamond is extremely high, at 4027° Celsius.

The fascinating fact that the Diamond can never be melted because, instead of melting, it is changed to the thermally stable form of carbon atom, Graphite, at high temperatures.

Electrical Neutrality: Because no carbon atom in the diamond’s crystal structure has a charge, it is electrically neutral.

Diamond is a non-conductor of electricity because its crystal structure exposes the absence of a lone pair on the carbon atom, or in other words, there is no delocalized electron for electricity conduction.

Diamond does not conduct electricity because all electrons are confined in the bond. However, due to the existence of delocalized electrons, the other form of the carbon atom, graphite, conducts electricity.

Optical Dispersion: Diamond has a high optical dispersion when compared to other carbon atom forms because it can disperse light of various colours.

Due to the lightness of the constituent atom, the carbon atom, and strong covalent bonding between carbon atoms, the diamond is the best heat conductor at ambient temperature.

Diamond has a thermal conductivity of 2000 W/m.K at normal temperature. It’s five times more expensive than copper, a good heat conductor.

Now, I believe you are convinced that Diamond’s distinctive features are due to its structure, which differs from those of another carbon atom, Graphite.


Finally, we looked at whether Diamond is an element or a compound.

Due to the presence of only one sort of element, namely carbon, we conclude that diamond is an element.

Diamond’s remarkable features are due to its massive covalent network. These distinguishing characteristics are:

In comparison to other naturally occurring minerals, it has the highest hardness.

4027° Celsius is a very high melting point.

Electricity non-conductor

With a thermal conductivity of 2000 W/m.K, it is the best thermal conductor. 5) It is electrically neutral.

Optical dispersion is high.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Suggestions and questions are encouraged.

Read more: Is Gold a Good Conductor of Electricity?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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