Graphite crystals consist of superposed layers of carbon atoms, in an infinite net of hexagonal cycles. The free space between the layers can be occupied by several distint atoms, molecules or ions (oxygen, nitrogen, halogen, alkaly metals etc.), thus producing lamellar compounds.
In normal conditions of pressure, the graphite layers easily glide due to the very weak bounds with the vicinity (van der Waals bonding); this is the reason why graphite is used as a lubricant.
Graphite occurs mainly in Corea, Austria, Russia, China, Mexico, Madagascar, Germany, Sri Lanka and Norway. However, most of the graphite used nowadays has a synthetic origin.
Thanks to its infusibility, hardness and conducting power, this substance is mainly used in the production of refractory coatings and crucibles in the foundry industry. It is also used in the production of pencils, electrodes for multiples purposes, rotary brushes, lubricants corrosion-resistent paints.