Carbon

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The allotropes of carbon include graphite, one of the softest known substances, and diamond, the hardest naturally occurring substance. It bonds readily with other small atoms, including other carbon atoms, and is capable of forming multiple stable covalent bonds with suitable multivalent atoms. Carbon is known to form almost ten million different compounds, a large majority of all chemical compounds. Carbon also has the highest sublimation point of all elements. At atmospheric pressure it has no melting point, as its triple point is at 7007108000000000000♠10. 8±0. 2 MPa and 4,600 ± 300 K (4,330 ± 300 °C; 7,820 ± 540 °F), so it sublimes at about 3,900 K (3,630 °C; 6,560 °F). Graphite is much more reactive than diamond at standard conditions, despite being more thermodynamically stable, as its delocalised pi system is much more vulnerable to attack. For example, graphite can be oxidised by hot concentrated nitric acid at standard conditions to mellitic acid, C6(CO2H)6, which preserves the hexagonal units of graphite while breaking up the larger structure.