There room now more than ten million essential compounds well-known by chemists. Many much more undoubtedly exist in nature, and organic chemists space continually developing (synthesizing) new ones. Carbon is the only aspect that can kind so numerous different compounds because each carbon atom can form four chemistry bonds to various other atoms, and because the carbon atom is just the right, small size come fit in comfortably as parts of very large molecules.

You are watching: Why can carbon form very large molecules

Having the atomic number 6, every carbon atom has a complete of six electrons. Two are in a completed inner orbit, while the other four are valence electrons—outer electrons the are accessible for forming bonds with various other atoms.

The carbon atom"s four valence electrons can be mutual by other atoms that have electrons come share, thus creating covalent (shared-electron) bonds. They can even be common by other carbon atoms, i m sorry in turn have the right to share electrons with various other carbon atoms and so on, creating long strings of carbon atoms, bonded to each other like links in a chain. Silicon (Si), another element in team 14 the the periodic table, additionally has four valence electrons and can make huge molecules called silicones, yet its atoms room too large to fit together into as an excellent a selection of molecules together carbon atoms can.

Carbon"s capacity to type long carbon-to-carbon chains is the very first of 5 reasons the there can be so many different carbon compounds; a molecule that differs by also one atom is, the course, a molecule that a different compound. The 2nd reason for carbon"s astounding compound-forming capacity is that carbon atoms have the right to bind to each other not only in straight chains, however in complicated branchings, like the branches the a tree. They can also join "head-to-tail" to do rings that carbon atoms. Over there is nearly no border to the number or complexity of the branches or the variety of rings that deserve to be attached to them, and also hence no border to the variety of different molecule that deserve to be formed.

The 3rd reason is the carbon atoms can share not just a solitary electron with another atom to form a single bond, yet it can likewise share two or three electrons, forming a twin or triple bond. This renders for a huge number of possible bond combine at different places, do a huge variety of different possible molecules. And also a molecule the differs by also one atom or one bond place is a molecule of a different compound.

The 4th reason is the the same repertoire of atoms and also bonds, yet in a various geometrical arrangement within the molecule, renders a molecule v a different shape and also hence different properties. These various molecules are referred to as isomers.

See more: How To Clean A Gamecube Disc, How Do You Fix A Scratched Gamecube Disc

The fifth reason is that all of the electron that are not being offered to shortcut carbon atoms together into chains and rings can be supplied to form bonds v atoms that several other elements. The most usual other element is hydrogen, which makes the household of compounds recognized as hydrocarbons. However nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, halogens, and several various other kinds of atoms can additionally be attached as part of an organic molecule. There is a huge variety of ways in i beg your pardon they can be attached to the carbon-atom branches, and also each variation makes a molecule that a different compound. It"s just as if relocating a Christmas tree ornament indigenous one branch to one more created a fully different tree.

Additional topics & Philosophy: Calcium Sulfate come Categorical imperativeCarbon - exactly how Carbon Is Found, Graphite, Diamond, The Chemistry of Carbon, Why Carbon Is special - classes of carbon compounds