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The system of carbon allotropes spans a range of extremes: Atomic carbon is a very short-lived species and, therefore, carbon is stabilized in various multi-atomic structures with different molecular configurations called allotropes.
The three relatively well-known allotropes of carbon are amorphous carbon, graphite, and diamond.
For example, graphite is opaque and black while diamond is highly transparent.
Graphite is soft enough to form a streak on paper (hence its name, from the Greek verb "γράφειν" which means "to write"), while diamond is the hardest naturally occurring material known.
Carbon forms a vast number of compounds, more than any other element, with almost ten million compounds described to date, The allotropes of carbon include graphite, one of the softest known substances, and diamond, the hardest naturally occurring substance.