Diamond structure

Diamond structure

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Credit: CHARLES D. WINTERS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Diamond structure. Molecular model of diamond, a form of the element carbon (C). Carbon atoms are shown as spheres (black) linked by covalent bonds (grey). Each carbon atom is positioned at the centre of a tetrahedron, linked to four others at the corners. The array would extend far beyond the atoms shown here. This repeating rigid structure does not allow the carbon atoms to rotate about their bonds, making diamond the hardest known naturally-occurring material. Diamond is used as a precious gemstone, and in industry to tip heavy- duty cutting and drilling equipment.

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