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Versatile Nature of Carbon and Its Bonding for JEE

Last updated date: 02nd Dec 2023
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Introduction to Carbon

Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon, and a few additional elements make up organic molecules. Organic compounds are an essential part of living organisms, for example, DNA and RNA which are the genetic material are made up of carbon-containing compounds. Similarly, glucose, protein, fat, enzymes, and hormones are some examples of carbon-containing compounds which are essential for any living organism. 

Carbon is not only present in organic compounds but also in inorganic compounds such as calcium carbonate which has many uses in our daily life. Carbon is a chemical element with the atomic number 6 and the symbol C. Carbon is seen in the 14th group of the modern periodic table. It is solid at room temperature. Carbon is non-metallic in nature. It's a versatile element that can be frequently found in various biochemical combinations. In this article, we’ll learn what is the versatile nature of carbon and what are the reasons for it.

Bonding in Carbon - The Covalent Bond

A covalent bond, also known as a molecular bond, is a chemical correlation that permits atoms to share electron pairs. These electron pairs are known as bonding pairs or sharing pairs. Covalent bonding is the steady equilibrium of attractive and repulsive interactions between the two atoms that share electrons. The repulsive forces between two atomic nuclei are overcome by the attractive forces between positively charged nuclei and negatively charged electrons. 

Generally, the elements that have a high ionisation energy will not be able to donate electrons while elements with low electron affinity will not be able to accept electrons. Such atoms of the elements tend to share electrons to obtain the octet configuration.  For many compounds, electron sharing allows each atom to achieve the equivalent of a complete outer shell, which corresponds to a stable electronic state.

A covalent bond between two carbon atoms is known as a carbon-carbon bond. The most common type of bond is a single bond, which is made up of two electrons, one from each of the two atoms. Carbon is one of only a few elements capable of forming extensive chains of its own atoms, a feature known as Catenation.

Allotropes of Carbon

We know that the valency of the carbon is 4. Due to tetravalency, carbon may form a huge variety of allotropes. Diamond and graphite are two well-known carbon allotropes.


Diamond is a well-known carbon allotrope. Diamond's hardness and great light dispersion make it suitable for both industrial and jewellery uses. Diamond is the hardest natural mineral known to man.

This makes it a great abrasive that retains polish and shines very well.

Except for another diamond, no known naturally occurring material can cut (or even graze) a diamond.

Structure of Diamond

Structure of Diamond


Graphite is the allotrope of carbon which is nonmetallic and has a hexagonal layer structure. Due to the delocalization of the pi bond electrons above and below the planes of the carbon atoms, graphite conducts electricity. Because these electrons are free to travel, they can conduct electricity. The electricity, however, is only conducted along the plane of the layers.

Structure of Graphite

Structure of Graphite


They got their name from the allotropic structure's resemblance to the geodesic structures designed by scientist and architect Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller. Fullerenes are carbon molecules of varying sizes that assume the shape of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube.

Structure of Fullerene

Structure of Fullerene

Versatile Nature of Carbon

The distinct nature of the carbon atom, including its ability to form bonds with other atoms, results in a large number of organic molecules. Tetravalency and catenation are the properties that give two reasons for the versatile nature of carbon. Let us learn why carbon shows versatile nature and what is the reason for the versatile nature of carbon.

Carbon is a very flexible element that can be found in a wide variety of chemical combinations, as well as those found in space. Carbon is versatile due to its ability to form single, double, and triple bonds. When joined to other carbon atoms, it can form chains, branched chains, and rings.

Tetravalency and catenation, two characteristics of carbon, when combined, give rise to a large variety of compounds. Many of them have the same non-carbon atom or group of atoms linked to various carbon chains.


Catenation is the ability to form long chains by self-linking with other carbon atoms to form long chains, rings, and double or triple bonds.


The valence shell of Carbon contains four electrons. Because it cannot gain or lose four electrons due to energy constraints, it makes covalent bonds with other elements to complete its octet. This justifies its tetravalency and ability to produce a wide range of compounds.


Isomerism refers to compounds that have the same chemical formula but a distinct structural formula. The type of isomerism is shown in the flowchart below.

Types of Isomerism

Types of Isomerism

Some Important Carbon Compounds

It is essential to every known life on Earth. Carbon is bonded with other elements, particularly oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, and carbon may bind with all of them due to its four valence electrons. Glucose, fat, and proteins are some of the key molecules that we utilise on a regular basis.


One of the most significant organic compounds is ethanol. Ethanol has the chemical formula C2H5OH. Ethyl alcohol is another name for it. In modest amounts, ethyl alcohol (commonly known as alcohol) can be used as a source of energy. But, in big quantities, it has an effect on the neurological system.

Ethanoic Acid

Ethanoic acid, also known as acetic acid, is a common organic acid that is commonly found in vinegar. It's a colourless, pungent-smelling liquid that tastes unpleasant. Ethanoic Acid has the chemical formula CH3COOH. It is also found in a variety of fruit juices. It may be found in various essential oils in its mixed form.


We discussed the peculiar characteristics of the carbon atom catenation and tetravalency give rise to the production of various compounds. We now understand what is the versatile nature of carbon, and why carbon forms lengthy chains and numerous bonds with other elements as well as with carbon. We also investigated the isomerism shown by the carbon.

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FAQs on Versatile Nature of Carbon and Its Bonding for JEE

1. What is the significance of Carbon?

Carbon is an integral part of all living things. It is capable of forming long chains of differing lengths. Carbon dioxide is the source of carbon for all living beings. Green plants use the Sun's energy to divide water into oxygen and hydrogen through the process of photosynthesis.

Living beings that do not get their energy from photosynthesis used to consume other living things to get their carbon molecules. Their digestive processes break down carbs into monomers, which they then employ to create their own cellular structures. Carbon, in addition to being necessary for living things, has a wide range of uses for many reasons.

2. What specifically do you mean by "Saturated Hydrocarbon"?

A hydrocarbon is an organic molecule where all of the constituents are carbon and hydrogen. As a result, saturated hydrocarbons in carbon valency are only filled by single bonds. All of the carbon-carbon bonds in this form of hydrocarbon are saturated, resulting in single bonds, meaning carbon is connected to other atoms or to other carbon atoms through single bonds.

These are referred to as saturated hydrocarbons. Saturated hydrocarbons are acyclic hydrocarbons that include sp3 hybridised carbon atoms. Some examples of saturated hydrocarbons are Methane, Butane, Cyclopentane, and Cyclohexane.

3. Why most carbon compounds are poor electrical conductors?

Carbon usually forms compounds through the establishment of covalent bonds, which do not absorb or liberate electrons because the bond uses all of the electrons. Carbon symbols are nonmetal and covalent molecular elements with a low melting point. Because carbon molecules have a different structure than ionic compounds, they do not break down into ions.

As a result, carbon compounds have a moderate force of attraction to accept or release electrons for the passage of energy. Of all the allotropes of carbon, graphite is more conducting in nature as it contains free pi electrons and also due to its layered structure.