An integral tool from the time we’re toddlers, graphite is most known as the active ingredient in lead pencils. It is one of the three familiar naturally occurring forms of the chemical element carbon, along with amorphous carbon (not to be confused with amorphous graphite) and diamond. Read More

Carbon by the Number

Carbon is a chemical element. Its atomic number is 6; its atomic weight is 12.011. It is a group IVA element, residing between boron and nitrogen on the periodic table, and it has 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons. The electron configuration is 1s2 , 2s2, 2p2. Why does that matter? Read More

Structure and Bonding

Like all other materials, carbon’s properties are the direct result of the strength and directionality of the bonds that hold the carbon atoms together. So any discussion of graphite must begin with the “structure and bonding” within a carbon material in order to understand why a particular carbon behaves the way it does. Read More

Aromaticity and Resonance: The Chemical Stabilizing Factor in Graphite

The propensity of any material to react with its environment is directly related to that material’s energy level with respect to that environment. Substances that are highly energetic tend to be more reactive and their reactions tend to reduce the overall energy potential of the system. This is the way of the world, or universe for that matter. Things, reactions, even life, tend to move from high energy to low energy.  Read More

The Hexagonal Crystal System

A good understanding of graphitic materials requires a basic understand of the crystal system to which the graphite structure belongs. Although a thorough discussion of crystallography is beyond the scope of this article it is important to understand that carbon atoms in the graphite structure are arranged in a hexagonal crystal lattice. This Hexagonal System meshes perfectly with the structure, bonding, and properties of graphitic carbon. Read More

Structural Description

Crystalline graphite is not simply a bunch of graphene layers piled one on top of the other, but is highly ordered structure. Read More

Rocks, Metamorphic Rocks, and Metamorphic Environments

Most natural graphite materials are formed in geological settings known as metamorphic environments. The term "Metamorphic" means to transform, so metamorphic rocks or minerals are those that undergo change during their geologic history. This change is typically caused by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth's crust. Read More


An anisotropic material is a material that has different properties (chemical, physical, or both) depending on the crystallographic direction in which the property is observed. Graphite is the classic example of an anisotropic substance. Read More

Organic Geochemistry and Petrology

The study of the emplacement of carbon in the earth’s crust is known as organic geochemistry and organic petrology. In their excellent work on the subject, authors and chemists, Stephen and Vanessa Killops describe organic geochemistry as "concerning the fate of all organic compounds in the geosphere as a whole." Read More