Science, Tech, Math › Science Allotrope Definition and Examples Including the difference between allotropism and polymorphism Share Flipboard Email Print Dave King / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated August 11, 2019 The term allotrope refers to one or more forms of a chemical element that occur in the same physical state. The different forms arise from the different ways atoms may be bonded together. The concept of allotropes was proposed by Swedish scientist Jons Jakob Berzelius in 1841. The ability for elements to exist in this way is called allotropism. Allotropes may display very different chemical and physical properties. For example, graphite and diamond are both allotropes of carbon that occur in the solid state. Graphite is soft, while diamond is extremely hard. Allotropes of phosphorus display different colors, such as red, yellow, and white. Elements may change allotropes in response to changes in pressure, temperature, and exposure to light. Examples of Allotropes To continue the carbon example, in diamond, the carbon atoms are bonded to form a tetrahedral lattice. In graphite, the atoms bond to form sheets of a hexagonal lattice. Other allotropes of carbon include graphene and fullerenes. O2 and ozone, O3, are allotropes of oxygen. These allotropes persist in different phases, including the gas, liquid, and solid states. Phosphorus has several solid allotropes. Unlike the oxygen allotropes, all phosphorus allotropes form the same liquid state. Allotropism Versus Polymorphism Allotropism refers only to the different forms of pure chemical elements. The phenomenon in which compounds display different crystalline forms is called polymorphism.