Atomic Number 6

What Element is Atomic Number 6?

Element atomic number 6 is carbon. Forms of pure carbon include diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon.
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Carbon is the element that is atomic number 6 on the periodic table. This nonmetal is the basis for life as we know it. Here is interesting trivia and facts about this element:

Element Atomic Number 6 Facts

  • Each atom of carbon has 6 protons and electrons. The element naturally exists as a mix of three isotopes. Most of this carbon has 6 neutrons (carbon-12), plus there are small amounts of carbon-13 and carbon-14. Carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable. Carbon-14 is used for radioisotope dating of organic material. A total of 15 isotopes of carbon are known.
  • Pure carbon can take any of several different forms, called allotropes. These allotropes exhibit markedly different properties. For example, diamond is the hardest form of any element, while graphite is very soft, and graphene is stronger than steel. Diamond is transparent, while other forms of carbon are opaque gray or black. All of the allotropes of carbon are solids at room temperature and pressure.
  • The element name carbon comes from the Latin word carbo, which means coal. The element symbol for atomic number 6 is C. Carbon is among the elements known in pure form by ancient mankind.
  • Carbon has the highest melting point of the pure elements at 3500 °C (3773 K, 6332 °F).
  • Carbon is the second most abundant element in humans, by mass (after oxygen). Approximately 20% of the mass of a living organism is atomic number 6.
  • Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. The element forms in stars via the triple-alpha process in which helium atoms fuse to form atomic number 4 (beryllium), which then fuses with atomic number 2 (helium) to form atomic number 6.
  • Carbon on Earth is constantly recycled via the Carbon Cycle. All of the carbon in your body once existed as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Pure carbon is considered non-toxic, although inhaling it can cause lung damage. It has been used since prehistoric time for making tattoos. The tattoos of Otzi the Iceman, a 5300-year-old frozen corpse, were likely made using charcoal.
  • In 1961, the IUPAC adopted the isotope carbon-12 as the basis for the atomic weight system.
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Atomic Number 6." ThoughtCo, Mar. 9, 2017, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, March 9). Atomic Number 6. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Atomic Number 6." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 19, 2018).