CHEMICAL DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHEMICAL DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Computer graphics stick representation of the molecular structure of graphite. Graphite, used in pencil leads and as a lubricant, has a crystalline structure composed of parallel layers of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms. Within each layer, carbon atoms are linked by strong covalent bonds, while the parallel layers are linked together by weak intermolecular forces known as Van der Waals' forces (green broken lines). This Van der Waals's bonding is strong enough to hold the layers together, yet weak enough to allow them to slide over each other. Because of this, graphite is soft and acts as a solid lubricant.
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