Anomalous behaviour of carbon

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04 Carbon and its compound

  • Similar to the other first members of their respective groups, carbon is peculiar from the other members of the group. Carbon exhibits anomalous behavior because of the following properties:
  • Tetravalency of Carbon:
    • Carbon can hold only four pairs of electrons in its valence shell due to the availability of only s and p orbitals, it.
    •  So, the covalence can be limited to four while other elements of the group have greater covalence because they have d-orbital.
  • Catenation:
    • Catenation is the property by which carbon forms long carbon chains with other carbon atoms.
    • Such a chain can contain a total of 70-80 carbon atoms.
    • This unique feature is responsible for the formation of very complex compounds having straight carbon chain, branched carbon chain and ring.
  • Small size of carbon:
    • Compounds formed by carbon are highly stable, because of its small size as the nucleus can effectively hold on to bonded and nonbonded electrons.


  • The Earth’s crust contains only 0.02% carbon in the form of minerals (such as carbonates, coal, hydrogen carbonates).
  • About 0.03% carbon is present in the earth’s atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide.
  • Organic chemistry deals with chemistry of compounds containing carbon and inorganic chemistry deals with chemistry of compounds not containing carbon. Organic chemistry is also chemistry of organic or living things.
  • Thus, all living or organic things contain carbon.
  • Carbon occurs in nature in two forms:
  • Free state:
  • In the free state, carbon occurs in nature  in two forms:
    • Diamond, and
    • Graphite.
  • Combined state:
  • In the combined state, carbon occurs in nature in the form of compounds such as :
    • Carbon dioxide gas in air
    • Carbonates (like limestone, marble and chalk)
    • Fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas
    • Organic compounds like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and
    • Wood, cotton and wool, etc.

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