The amount of carbon present in the earth’s crust and the atmosphere is very small.
In spite of this carbon plays an important role in every sphere of life. In fact, all the living things, plant and animals, are made up of carbon-based compounds which are called organic compounds.
Thus, carbon element is present in all living things. Carbon makes up a large number of things which we use in our daily.
Our food materials like grains, pulses, sugar, tea, coffee, fruits and vegetables, etc., are made up of carbon compounds.
PROPERTIES OF CARBON
Carbon Always Forms Covalent Bonds:
The atomic number of carbon is 6, which means that an atom of carbon contains 6 electrons. The electronic configuration of carbon is .
From the configuration, we can infer that carbon has 4 electrons in the outermost shell i.e. the L shell of its atom.
Since a carbon atom has 4 electrons in its outermost shell, it should lose or gain 4 electrons to achieve the inert gas electron configuration to become stable. But this impossible because of the following two reasons:
If Carbon gains 4 electrons to become C4-, it will be tough for 6 protons to hold 10 electrons and so the atom will become unstable.
If it loses 4 electrons to become C4+ because it would require large amount of energy to remove outer 4 electrons and have only 2 electrons held by proton, which will again become unstable
So, Carbon atoms can achieve the inert gas electron arrangement only by the sharing of electrons, therefore, carbon always forms covalent bonds.
Carbon is Tetravalent
Since one carbon atom requires 4 electrons to achieve the eight-electron inert gas structure, therefore, the valency of carbon is 4.
The most unique property of carbon it is its ability to combine with itself, atom to atom, to form long chains.
The property of self-combination of carbon atoms to form long results in the large number of carbon compounds (or organic compound), which in turn is beneficial for us.
The carbon atoms also form strong covalent bonds with the atoms of other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, chlorine, and many other elements.
The formation of strong bonds by carbon atoms among themselves and with other elements makes the carbon compounds exceptionally stable.
TYPES OF COVALENT BONDS:
Single bond- This is formed when only one pair of electron is shared between the two participating atoms.
Double bond- This is formed when two pairs of electrons are shared between the two participating atoms.
Triple bond- This is formed when three pairs of electrons are shared between the two participating atoms.