2
$\begingroup$

Is it scientifically correct to call Diamond an element? Carbon has a wide range of allotropes, so would it be correct to actually just call graphite, diamond etc an element. For that matter, could we call any molecule containing only one type of atom, an element?

$\endgroup$
2
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Phosphor has (among others) an allotrope called "red phosphor" and one called "white phosphor". Does that anwer your question? $\endgroup$ – Karl Sep 24 '18 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Can we have that idiotic IUPAC definition goldbook.iupac.org/html/C/C01022.html that probably raised this question again? It was cited in an answer that has been deleted. They really should stick to defining nomenclature and not write dictionaries. $\endgroup$ – Karl Sep 24 '18 at 19:49
11
$\begingroup$

It might be scientifically correct but it is linguistically misleading

The sentence "diamond is an element" can be seen to be misleading when compared to the sentence "diamond is an allotrope of the element carbon". Or even "diamond consists of the element carbon".

The issue is that clear language should distinguish between the form and the composition of an element with more than one allotrope. Saying "diamond is an element" confuses the fact that diamond is made from carbon with the fact that it is made from an infinite tetrahedral array of carbon atoms. It also subtly excludes the fact that there are other allotropes.

For clarity in language a specific form of an element (an allotrope) should not be referred to as "an element" but should be referred to as one form of that element. As in "diamond is one form of the element carbon, buckminsterfullerene is another form."

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ Reminds me of xkcd.com/169 ;-) $\endgroup$ – Karl Sep 24 '18 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ Then what is the point giving that definition of "element"? I mean it would be better to say periodic table of atoms than elements. $\endgroup$ – ado sar Sep 12 '20 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @adosar The periodic table provides more than just a list of atoms. It also tells us the normal form in which those elements appear. But there can be several common forms. The definition of element is that there is only one type of atom. But this is incomplete as we also need to know the typical forms (diamond, graphite, buckyballs...). The periodic table gives both. $\endgroup$ – matt_black Dec 4 '20 at 13:28
2
$\begingroup$

Technically Yes, but Scientifically No.

Diamond is made of pure Carbon, so yes. However, it is not on the periodic table nor is it classified as an element by most scientists, so on that case, no. It really depends what you think.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Diamond is a form of pure carbon (which is an element). Logic may lead you to believe that diamond is, therefore, an element. However, this is a bit circular because if you say that diamond is an element, then every allotrope of every element also falls under the same consideration.

Also, in order for diamond to be a unique element, the molecules that make it up should have a different number of protons than any other element on the periodic table. Since a diamond is made of carbon, it is really just another form of carbon.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Chemistry.se! I would say this does not answer the question, but it only restates it. I agree the reasoning is circular, but according to some definitions available, a more rigorous answer would be preferable. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jul 17 '19 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ I felt that I had provided that with my second paragraph where I touched on proton counts, but I can try and make my answer more detailed. $\endgroup$ – Chirag Choudhary Jul 18 '19 at 17:11
0
$\begingroup$

No. Diamond is not an element.

It is a name for a gemstone, a particular occurence of an allotropic form of carbon that may or may not contain other elements in addition to carbon.

And while "pure" diamond is an allotropic form of the element carbon, diamonds that are actually pure carbon are usually synthetically made, as most naturally occuring diamonds have impurities/inclusions in the matrix.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.