Graphite's delocalised electron?

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In summary, graphite has a delocalized electron in every carbon atom, which makes it very covalent in nature.
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pivoxa15
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They say 3 of graphite's electrons are covalently bonded and the other one is delocalised. But it shares among the other carbon atoms as well as having it itself because no carbon atom is charged in graphite. But that means it is very much covalent in nature? Why not have a double bond somewhere to explain the extra delocalised electron in every carbon atom in graphite? Or is it the case that they want to say that this electron is not fixed so can double bond with any of the three neighbouring carbon atoms?

Is that different to saying it forms a double bond since a double bond in reality means a reasonance structure where the bonding is not fixed anyway.
 
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pivoxa15 said:
They say 3 of graphite's electrons are covalently bonded and the other one is delocalised. But it shares among the other carbon atoms as well as having it itself because no carbon atom is charged in graphite. But that means it is very much covalent in nature? Why not have a double bond somewhere to explain the extra delocalised electron in every carbon atom in graphite? Or is it the case that they want to say that this electron is not fixed so can double bond with any of the three neighbouring carbon atoms?

Is that different to saying it forms a double bond since a double bond in reality means a reasonance structure where the bonding is not fixed anyway.
Did you study Benzene? It's the same principle. To see the resonance as an alternating formation of single/double bonds is not exact. Actually the electrons forms an entire molecular bond, that is, it is effectively delocalized in all the molecule, that is, the electronic "cloud" is made of two doghnuts over the plane of the molecule, on opposite sides.

In graphite, all the Benzene rings become one, in this sense: the electrons are delocalized in all the plane of the molecules, above and under.
Many planes of molecules = many layers.
 
  • #3
pivoxa15 said:
But that means it is very much covalent in nature? Why not have a double bond somewhere to explain the extra delocalised electron in every carbon atom in graphite?
Because covalent bonds (including double bonds) are localized in nature.

Is that different to saying it forms a double bond since a double bond in reality means a reasonance structure where the bonding is not fixed anyway.
A double bond is not a resonance hybrid. It is, an approximation based on overlap of localized, independent atomic orbitals (typically, but not necessarily, one sigma overlap and one pi overlap).

("Independent" means that I can write the many-electron wavefunction as a product of many single-particle wavefunctions).
 
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1. What is a delocalised electron in graphite?

A delocalised electron in graphite refers to the electrons that are free to move throughout the layers of graphite. These electrons are not bound to a specific atom and are shared among the carbon atoms in the structure.

2. How does the delocalised electron structure in graphite affect its properties?

The delocalised electron structure in graphite gives it unique properties such as electrical conductivity, lubricity, and thermal stability. The free movement of electrons allows for easy flow of electricity and heat, while the layers of carbon atoms sliding over each other provide the lubricity that makes graphite useful in applications such as pencils and dry lubricants.

3. What is the difference between the delocalised electron structure in graphite and other forms of carbon?

The delocalised electron structure in graphite is unique to this specific form of carbon. In other forms, such as diamond, the carbon atoms are tightly bonded and there is no free movement of electrons. This results in vastly different properties, with diamond being a hard, transparent, and non-conductive material.

4. How does the delocalised electron structure in graphite contribute to its high thermal conductivity?

The delocalised electrons in graphite are able to easily transfer heat energy throughout the material. As the electrons move, they transfer energy to neighboring carbon atoms, allowing heat to spread quickly and efficiently through the layers of graphite. This is why graphite is often used as a heat sink in electronic devices.

5. Can the delocalised electron structure in graphite be manipulated?

Yes, the delocalised electron structure in graphite can be manipulated by adding or removing electrons from the material. This can be achieved through processes such as doping, which can change the properties of graphite and make it suitable for specific applications. For example, adding boron to graphite can increase its strength and make it suitable for use in golf club shafts.

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