Graphite

Definition - What does Graphite mean?

Graphite is a crystalline form, or allotrope, of carbon. Its structure consists of hexagonal layers of interlinked carbon atoms (graphene) held together by weak intermolecular forces. It is a stable and naturally occurring material typically found in metamorphic and igneous rocks.

While graphite is extremely soft and cleaves with relatively light pressure, it possesses extraordinary heat resistance, electrical conductivity and chemical inertness. It is used as a lubricant and to manufacture various industrial products.

Graphite may also be known as carbon graphite.

Corrosionpedia explains Graphite

One of the most defining characteristics of graphite is its weak intermolecular bonds, also known as Van der Waals forces. This attribute allows the layers of graphite to be easily separated or slide past each other.

The softness and the ease with which the layers can move relative to each other gives graphite lubricative properties. As such, graphite is an active material in many industrial lubricants. These weak bonds also allow graphite to be easily transferred to other mediums with light pressure application, thus making this material ideal for writing instruments.

Other common industrial uses of graphite include:

  • Steel manufacturing
  • Manufacturing polishes and paints
  • Solar panel construction
  • Battery construction
  • Electrode manufacturing
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