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Graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. Unlike diamond, graphite is a conductor, and can be used, for instance, as the material in the electrodes of an electrical arc lamp.

The pi orbital electrons delocalized across the hexagonal atomic sheets of carbon contribute the graphite's conductivity. In an oriented piece of graphite, conductivity parallel to these sheets is greater than that perpendicular to these sheets.

The loose coupling among the sheets in graphite contributes to another industrially important property -- graphite powder is used as a dry lubricant. Graphite is also used in pencils.

Physical characteristics

Associated minerals include quartz, calcite, micas, iron meteorites and tourmalines.

Other characteristics: thin flakes are flexible but inelastic, mineral can leave black marks on hands and paper, conducts electricity.

Notable occurrences include New York and Texas, USA; Russia; Mexico; Greenland and India.

Best field indicators are softness, luster, density and streak.

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