You are on page 1of 15

1

CHAPTER

1.1 The periodic table


Electron configurations
Each electron in an atom, or monatomic ion, has potential energy arising from the attraction between its
negative charge and the positive charge of the nucleus. Electrons in the atoms or monatomic ions of a
particular element have energy values that are unique to that element.
Each allowed energy level for an electron is represented by a main shell number (principal quantum number)
using numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and a subshell represented by the lowercase letters s, p, d or f. For a main shell
(of number n), there are n subshells.
The subshells corresponding to each of the first four main shells are listed in Table 1.1.
Main shell

Subshells

1s

2s
2p

3s
3p
3d

4s
4p
4d
4f

Table 1.1 Electron shells and subshells.

The electron configuration of an atom or monatomic ion describes the number of electrons at each energy level.
When writing electron configurations for atoms or monatomic ions the following principles apply:

in the most stable state (the ground state) of any atom or ion the electrons occupy subshells with the
lowest available energy levels. They are allocated to subshells in order of increasing energy as shown
in the following energy sequence:
1s < 2s < 2p < 3s < 3p < 4s < 3d < 4p < 5s
lower energy

higher energy

each subshell can accommodate a maximum number of electrons as shown in Table 1.2.
Subshell

Maximum number of electrons

10

14

Table 1.2 Maximum number of electrons per subshell.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

Elemental and
environmental chemistry

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

CHAPTER 1

Using subshell notation to write electron configurations for atoms


For an atom the number of electrons is equal to the atomic number of the element. An atoms electron
configuration is written in energy sequence order for the subshells with the number of electrons occupying
each subshell shown as a superscript. This is illustrated in the following examples:

sodium atom (11 electrons)


iron atom (26 electrons)
strontium atom (38 electrons)

1s2 2s2 2p6 3s1


1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d6
1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2

Two electron configurations that do not conform


Within the first 38 elements of the periodic table, the electron configurations of chromium and copper
atoms do not conform to the principles for assigning electrons to subshells as described above.
The electron configurations are as follows:
2

10

Cr (24 electrons)

1s 2s 2p 3s 3p 4s 3d

Cu (29 electrons)

1s 2s 2p 3s 3p 4s 3d

Using subshell notation to write electron configurations for monatomic ions


For positive ions of the main group (groups I to VIII) elements
1. Determine the number of electrons for the ion.
positive ions have less electrons than the atom of the element by the number equal to the numerical
value of the charge on the ion.
For example, because it has a 2+ charge, the Ca2+ ion has 18 electrons, 2 electrons less than the Ca atom.
2. Assign the 18 electrons to subshells as described for atoms above. The electron configuration for the Ca2+
ion is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6.

For negative ions of the main group (groups I to VIII) elements


1. Determine the number of electrons for the ion.
negative ions have more electrons than the atom of the element by a number equal to the numerical
value of the charge on the ion.
For example, because it has a 1 charge, the Br ion has 36 electrons, 1 electron more than the Br atom.
2. Assign the 36 electrons to subshells as described for atoms above. The electron configuration for the Br
ion is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

For positive ions of the transition elements (for example Fe2+ and Fe3+)
1. Write the electron configuration for the atom of the element.
1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d6

2. Decrease the number of electrons equal to the numerical value of the charge on the ion by deleting the 4s
electrons first, with any subsequent deletions required being made from the 3d subshell.
The Fe2+ ion

has 2 electrons less than the Fe atom


the configuration for the Fe2+ ion is obtained by removing the 4s2 electrons from the configuration of
the Fe atom

the electron configuration for the Fe2+ ion is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d6
The Fe3+ ion

has 3 electrons less than the Fe atom


the configuration for the Fe3+ ion is obtained by removing the 4s2 electrons and one 3d electron from
the configuration of the Fe atom

the electron configuration for the Fe3+ ion is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d5.
Q1.1

Using subshell notation, write the electron configurations for the following atoms and ions (use a copy of the
periodic table to find atomic number values):
a. Argon atom:

...............................................................................................................................................................

b. Rubidium ion (Rb+):

...............................................................................................................................................................

c. Manganese atom:

...............................................................................................................................................................

d. Nickel ion (Ni2+):

...............................................................................................................................................................

Electron configurations and the periodic table


An elements position on the modern periodic table is determined by its electron configuration.
Horizontal rows of the periodic table are called periods and vertical columns are called groups.
Periods are numbered from 1 to 7.
The number of the period in which an element is placed is equal to the highest numbered main shell that is
occupied by electrons.
The number of electrons occupying the highest numbered main shell (outer shell) determines the vertical
column (group) to which a main group element is assigned. For any main group element, the group number
equals the number of electrons occupying its outer shell. This is illustrated by the examples in the following
table:

Phosphorus has the electron configuration 1s 2s 2p 3s 3p .


Its outer shell is the 3rd shell which is occupied by 5 electrons. Phosphorus is in period 3, group V.
2

Bromine has the electron configuration 1s 2s 2p 3s 3p 4s 3d

10

4p .

Its outer shell is the 4th shell which is occupied by 7 electrons in total. Bromine is in period 4, group VII.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

Fe (26 electrons)

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

CHAPTER 1

The following figure is an outline of the modern periodic table:

MAIN GROUP NUMBERS

I
II

VIII
III

IV

VI

VII

PERIOD NUMBER

2
3

TRANSITION ELEMENTS

4
5

**

LANTHANIDES

**

ACTINIDES

Figure 1.1 Outline of the modern periodic table.

For all elements in group I, there is one electron in the highest energy s subshell.
For example:

lithium (Li)
rubidium (Rb)

1s22s1
1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p65s1

For all elements in group II, there are two highest energy electrons in an s subshell.
For example:

magnesium (Mg)
calcium (Ca)

1s22s22p63s2
1s22s22p63s23p64s2

Groups I and II form the s block of the periodic table.

For all elements in group III, there is one electron in the highest energy p subshell.
For example:

boron (B)
gallium (Ga)

1s22s22p1
1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p1

For all elements in group IV, there are two electrons in the highest energy p subshell.
For example:

silicon (Si)
germanium (Ge)

1s22s22p63s23p2
1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p2

For elements in groups V to VIII there are in turn 3 to 6 electrons in the highest energy p subshell
(helium being an exception at the top of group VIII).
Groups III to VIII form the p block of the periodic table.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

For the transition elements, the highest energy electrons are in a d subshell.

1s22s22p63s23p64s23d2
1s22s22p63s23p64s23d7

titanium (Ti)
cobalt (Co)

The transition elements form the d block of the periodic table.

For the lanthanides and actinides, the highest energy electrons are in an f subshell.
The following is an example of an electron configuration of an element from the lanthanides:
1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p65s24d105p66s24f 6

samarium, Sm, (a lanthanide)

The lanthanides and actinides form the f block of the periodic table.

The s, p, d and f blocks of the periodic table are summarised in Figure 1.2.

s-block

p-block

s1

p6
s2

p1

p2

p3

p4

p5

d-block
d1 10

*
**
f-block
f 1 14

*
**

Figure 1.2 s, p, d and f blocks of the periodic table.


Q1.2

Q1.3

Using subshell notation, write the electron configurations for the following atoms for which the atomic number is
given in brackets. From the electron configuration, determine the block of the periodic table to which the element
belongs.
Electron configuration
Periodic table block
a. Arsenic, As (33):

........................................................

........................................................

b. Rubidium, Rb (37):

........................................................

........................................................

c. Krypton, Kr (36):

........................................................

........................................................

d. Cobalt, Co (27):

........................................................

........................................................

By inspection of a copy of the periodic table, determine the main group and block for each of the following elements.
Main group number

Periodic table block

a. Francium:

........................................................

........................................................

b. Thorium:

n/a
........................................................

........................................................

c. Tungsten:

n/a
........................................................

........................................................

d. Thallium:

........................................................

........................................................

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

The following are examples of electron configurations of elements from the first row (period 4) of the
transition elements:

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

CHAPTER 1

Chemical properties of the elements and the periodic table


The elements in each group of the s or p blocks of the periodic table display similar chemical properties to
each other. They react with other elements and compounds forming products that conform to a common
formula pattern.

Examples of similar chemical properties


The elements from group I all react with chlorine to form a chloride of formula type MCl.
Group I elements also react with water to form a hydroxide of formula type MOH and hydrogen, H2.
Each element in group V forms a compound with hydrogen of formula type XH3.

Electron configurations of the atoms of the s and p block elements can be used as a basis for explaining and
predicting their chemical properties. The connection between the electron configuration of an element and its
position on the periodic table can be used to make predictions about the properties of an element, including its
metal/metalloid/non-metal nature, the charge(s) of its monatomic ion(s) and its likely oxidation state(s) in its
compounds.

Metals:

Atoms of metals lose electrons in chemical reactions.

Non-metals:

Atoms of non-metals gain or share electrons in chemical reactions.

Metalloids:

Atoms of metalloids lose or share electrons in chemical reactions.

The similarity in chemical properties of the elements within each particular group is explained in terms of
the similarity of their electron configurations. When elements react, their atoms either lose or gain electrons
(to form positive or negative ions respectively) or they share electrons with those of other atoms (to form
covalent bonds). The electron configurations of the resultant ions are more stable than the configurations of the
atoms from which they have been formed. Similarly, when atoms share electrons they acquire more stable
electron configurations.

The octet rule


For period 1 and 2 elements an electron configuration in which the outer shell is complete with its maximum
number of electrons is more stable than a configuration with an incomplete outer shell. For example, the
magnesium ion, Mg2+, 1s22s22p6, has a more stable configuration than the magnesium atom, Mg, 1s22s22p63s2.
These complete, stable electron configurations are the same as for the noble gases of periods 1 and 2 and are
often referred to as noble gas configurations. For the period 2 and 3 noble gases, the electron configurations
show 8 electrons in the outer shell and when atoms attain 8 electrons in their outer shell they are said to have
conformed to the octet rule.

Expansion of the octet


Atoms of the period 3 elements from the p block often conform to the octet rule by accepting electrons to form
negatively charged monatomic ions or by sharing electrons with other atoms. For example, the sulfur atom, S,
1s22s22p63s23p4, forms the sulfide ion, S2, ion, 1s22s22p63s23p6.
The atoms of the period 3 elements from groups V to VII can share all of their outer shell electrons and as a
consequence acquire more than 8 electrons in their outer shells. The extra electrons above the octet are
accommodated in the previously unoccupied 3d subshell. This is referred to as the expansion of the octet.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

Valence electrons

For s block elements, the valence shell electrons are the highest energy s subshell electrons.
For p block elements, the valence shell electrons are the outer s and p subshell electrons.

Chemical reactions involving the s block elements


Group I elements
These elements readily form compounds by reacting with non-metal elements such as the halogens, oxygen
and sulfur and with other oxidising agents such as water and the hydronium ion (present in dilute acid solutions).
In these reactions, the atoms of the group I elements lose their s1 valence electrons to form an M+ ion.
The electron lost is gained by the other reactant. The product compounds are ionic with formulae such as MC1,
M2S, M2O and MOH.
The configuration of the M+ ion is more stable than that of the M atom.
The potassium atom has the configuration 1s22s22p63s23p64s1. Its valence shell (the 4th shell) is incomplete,
containing only one electron. This is a less stable configuration than that for the K+ ion, 1s22s22p63s23p6.
The outer shell for this ion is now the 3rd shell and it is complete (full). This ion conforms to the octet rule.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group I elements is always 1+.
Consequently the oxidation state of the group I elements in their compounds is always +1.
The group I elements are classified as metals because their atoms lose electrons in
chemical reactions.

The following are examples of reactions involving group I elements:


2Na(s) + Cl2(g)
2K(s) + S(s)

2NaCl(s)
K2S(s)

Note that hydrogen is not included as a member of group I. Although its electron configuration
1
is 1s , its properties are quite different to those of other members of group I. Sometimes it is
not shown at the top of group I but is given a separate box of its own.
In compounds with non-metals, hydrogen atoms share their one valence electron with valence
electrons of the other non-metal atoms.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

Electrons lost or shared by atoms are those from the valence (outer) shells. Electrons gained are accepted into
valence shells. Outer shell electrons are called valence electrons.

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

CHAPTER 1

Group II elements
These elements also readily form compounds by reacting with non-metal elements such as the halogens, oxygen
and sulfur and with oxidising agents such as water and the hydronium ion. In these reactions, the atoms of the
group II elements lose their valence electrons to form an M2+ ion. The electrons lost are gained by the other
reactant. The product compounds are ionic with formulae such as MCl2, MS, MO and M(OH)2.
The configuration of the M2+ ion is more stable than that of the M atom.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group II elements is always 2+.
Consequently the oxidation state of the group II elements in their compounds is always +2.
Except for beryllium, the group II elements are classified as metals because their atoms
lose electrons in chemical reactions. Beryllium is classified as a metalloid.

The following are examples of reactions involving group II elements:


2Ca(s) + O2(g)
Mg(s) + S(s)

2CaO(s)
MgS(s)

Chemical reactions involving the p block elements


Group III elements
In their compounds
either they exhibit a covalence of 3 as in the case for boron in its compounds, for example BCl3. When boron
forms compounds, its atoms share the s2p1 outer shell electrons to form covalent bonds with other
non-metal atoms.

Covalence
The covalence of an element is equal to the number of electrons that its atoms share when
forming covalent bonds with other atoms. When boron shares its 3 outer shell electrons with,
for example, electrons from three chlorine atoms, then boron is exhibiting a covalence of 3.

or

they exist as triple positive ions, such as Al3+, in compounds with non-metals. These ions are formed
when atoms of the group III elements lose the s2p1 outer shell electrons in electron transfer reactions.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group III elements is usually 3+.
The oxidation state of the group III elements in their compounds is usually +3. In some
compounds their oxidation state is 3.
The elements range from a non-metal, boron, at the top of the group, to metalloids,
aluminium and gallium, in the middle and metals at the bottom of the group.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

Group IV elements
In their compounds

or

they exist as 2+ or 4+ ions, such as Pb2+, Sn2+ or Pb4+, in compounds with non-metals.
4+ ions are formed when the atoms of group IV elements lose the s2p2 outer shell electrons in electron
transfer reactions.
2+ ions are formed when the atoms of group IV elements lose only the p2 electrons of the s2p2 outer
shell electrons in electron transfer reactions.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group IV elements is usually 2+ or 4+.
The oxidation state of the group IV elements in their compounds is either +4, +2 or 4.
The elements range from the non-metals, carbon and silicon, at the top of the group, to
metalloids for the rest of the group.

Group V elements
In their compounds
either they exhibit a covalence of 3, as in the case of nitrogen in all of its compounds such as NH3, and of
phosphorus and arsenic in some of their compounds, for example AsCl3. In these compounds, the
nitrogen, phosphorus and arsenic atoms share only the p3 electrons from the s2p3 outer shell
configuration to form covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms. In sharing in this way they are
conforming to the octet rule.
or

they exhibit a covalence of 5, as in the case of phosphorus and arsenic in some of their compounds, for
example, AsCl5 and P4O10. In these compounds, the phosphorus and arsenic atoms share all of the s2p3
electrons from the s2p3 outer shell configuration to form covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms.
In sharing in this way they are expanding the octet.

or

they exist as 3 ions, such as N3 or P3 in compounds with metals. 3 ions are formed when atoms of
the group V elements gain three electrons into the p subshell thereby changing the outer shell
configuration from s2p3 to s2p6. The resultant ions conform to the octet rule.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group V elements is 3.


The oxidation state of the group V elements in their compounds is either +5, +3 or 3.
The elements range from the non-metals, nitrogen and phosphorus, at the top of the group,
to the metalloids arsenic and antimony in the middle and the metal bismuth at the bottom of
the group.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

either they exhibit a covalence of 4, as in the case for carbon and silicon in their compounds, for example,
CCl4 and SiH4. When carbon and silicon form compounds, their atoms share the s2p2 outer shell
electrons to form covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms.

10

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

Group VI elements
CHAPTER 1

In their compounds
either they exhibit a covalence of 2, as in the case of oxygen in all of its compounds such as H2O, and of sulfur
and selenium in some of their compounds, for example SF2. In these compounds the oxygen, sulfur and
selenium atoms share only two of the p4 electrons from the s2p4 outer shell configuration to form
covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms. In sharing in this way they are conforming to the octet rule.
or

they exhibit a covalence of 4, as in the case of sulfur and selenium in some of their compounds, for
example SO2 and SeF4. In these compounds, the sulfur and selenium atoms share all of the p4 electrons
from the s2p4 outer shell configuration to form covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms. In sharing in
this way they are expanding the octet. It must be noted that oxygen does not exhibit a covalence of 4.

or

they exhibit a covalence of 6, as in the case of sulfur and selenium in some of their compounds, for
example SF6 and SeO3. In these compounds, the sulfur and selenium atoms share all of the s2p4 electrons
from the outer shell configuration to form covalent bonds with other non-metal atoms.
In sharing in this way they are expanding the octet. It must be noted that oxygen does not exhibit a
covalence of 6.

or

they exist as 2- ions, such as O2 or S2 in compounds with metals. 2 ions are formed when the atoms
of group VI elements gain two electrons into the p subshell thereby changing the outer shell
configuration from s2p4 to s2p6. The resultant ions conform to the octet rule.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group VI elements is 2.


The oxidation state of the group VI elements in their compounds is +6, +4, +2 or 2. An
exception is oxygen with an oxidation number of 1 in H2O2.
The elements range from the non-metals, oxygen and sulfur, at the top of the group, to the
metalloids selenium and tellurium in the middle and the metal polonium at the bottom of the
group.

Group VII elements


In their compounds
either they exhibit a covalence of 1, as in the compounds such as HBr and CCl4. In these compounds, the
group VII atoms share one of the p5 electrons from the s2p5 outer shell configuration to form a covalent
bond with other non-metal atoms. In sharing in this way they are conforming to the octet rule.
or

they exhibit a covalence of 3, 5 or 7 and in sharing in this way they are expanding the octet. It must be
noted that fluorine does not exhibit a covalence of 3, 5 or 7.

In such compounds, the atoms of the group VII elements share electrons in the following ways:
covalence of 3: three of the p5 electrons shared
covalence of 5: all five of the p5 electrons shared
covalence of 7: all seven of the s2p5 electrons shared
or

they exist as 1 ions, in compounds with metals. 1 ions are formed when the atoms of group VII
elements gain one electron into the p subshell, thereby changing the outer shell configuration from s2p5
to s2p6. The resultant ions conform to the octet rule.

The charge on the monatomic ions of the group VII elements is 1.


The oxidation state of the group VII elements in their compounds is +7, +5, +3, +1 or 1.
The elements are all non-metals.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

11

Limitations of the covalent bonding model

Element

Oxidation state

Example

Nitrogen

+4

NO2

Nitrogen

+2

NO

Chlorine

+4

ClO2

Table 1.3 Some anomalous oxidation states for nitrogen and chlorine.

These oxidation states cannot be explained in terms of electron configurations and shared pairs of electrons.
Other bonding models that are beyond the scope of this course must be used.

Summary table of oxidation states


For the s and p block elements up to atomic number 38, Figure 1.3 summarises the likely oxidation states of
the elements in their compounds and the metal/metalloid/non-metal nature of the elements:

VIII

H
non-metal
ox state
+1
II

III

IV

VI

VII

Li
metal
ox state
+1

Be
metalloid
ox state
+2

B
non-metal
ox states
+3, 3

C
non-metal
ox states
+4, 4

N
non-metal
ox states
+5, +3, 3

O
non-metal
ox state
2

F
non-metal
ox state
1

Na
metal
ox state
+1

Mg
metal
ox state
+2

Al
metalloid
ox state
+3

Si
non-metal
ox states
+4, 4

P
non-metal
ox states
+5, +3, 3

S
non-metal
ox states
+6, +4, +2,
2

C1
non-metal
ox states
+7, +5, +3,
+1, 1

K
metal
ox state
+1

Ca
metal
ox state
+2

Ga
metalloid
ox state
+3

Ge
metalloid
ox states
+4, +2

As
metalloid
ox states
+5, +3

Se
non-metal
ox states
+4, +2

Br
non-metal
ox states
+7, +5, +3,
+1, 1

Rb
metal
ox state
+1

Sr
metal
ox state
+2

TRANSITION
METALS

Figure 1.3 Oxidation states and nature of s and p block elements.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

There are some examples of the s and p block elements exhibiting oxidation states (and covalences) that are
different from those given in the summaries above. Some of the more common of these are given in Table 1.3.

12

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook

CHAPTER 1

Electronegativities of the elements


The relative ability of an atom to attract electrons to itself is called its electronegativity. The higher the
electronegativity, the stronger the attraction for electrons. Metal atoms have lower electronegativity values
than metalloids, which in turn have lower electronegativities than non-metals. Using the periodic table, two
clear trends for electronegativities of the s and p block elements can be described as follows:
Group I

Group VII

electronegativities increase across each period

Period 1

Period 4

electronegativities decrease down each group

The periodic table can then be divided into regions of high, intermediate and low electronegativities as shown
on part of the periodic table in Figure 1.4.
The numerical values beneath the symbols of the elements are Pauling electronegativity values. (Linus Pauling,
an American chemist, developed a scale of electronegativity values last century.)

II

III

IV

VI

VII

Li
0.98

Be
1.57

B
2.04

C
2.55

N
3.04

O
3.44

F
3.98

Na
0.93

Mg
1.31

Al
1.61

Si
1.90

P
2.19

S
2.58

Cl
3.16

K
0.82

Ca
1.00

Ga
1.81

Ge
2.01

As
2.18

Se
2.55

Br
2.96

Rb
0.82

Sr
0.95

Low electronegativity
(metals)
Intermediate
electronegativity
(metalloids)
High electronegativity
(non-metals)

Note: H has electronegativity = 2.20

Figure 1.4 Electronegativity values of s and p block elements.

The acidic/basic nature of oxides


An oxide is a two-element compound with one of the elements being oxygen. Common examples are carbon
monoxide, CO, iron (III) oxide, Fe2O3, and nitrogen dioxide, NO2.
Oxides can be classified as acidic, amphoteric or basic on the basis of their reactivity, or lack of reactivity, with
acids and bases.

Acidic oxides
Acidic oxides react with hydroxide ions to produce oxyanions (negatively charged ions of the element and
oxygen) and water molecules. Examples of oxyanions are carbonate, CO32, sulfate, SO42 and aluminate, AlO2.
If soluble in water, acidic oxides react with water to form oxyacids (acids consisting of the element combined
with hydrogen and oxygen). Examples of oxyacids are carbonic acid, H2CO3, sulfuric acid, H2SO4 and
orthophosphoric acid, H3PO4.
These oxyacids consist of molecules with covalent hydroxyl groups (O H) as part of their structure.
For example, the structure of H2CO3 is:
O
H

C
O

H
O

Oxyacids undergo complete or partial ionisation with water to produce hydronium ions.
For example:
H2CO3 + H2O

H3O+ + HCO3

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

13

Acidic oxides are the oxides of non-metals. They are the oxides of the elements with high electronegativity and
are covalent molecular (such as CO2 and SO3) or continuous covalent compounds (such as SiO2).

Oxide

*Reaction with hydroxide ions

P4O10

P4O10 + 12OH 4PO43 + 6H2O

*Reaction with water


P4O10 + 6H2O 4H3PO4

(phosphate)

SO2

SO2 + 2OH SO32 + H2O

(orthophosphoric acid)

SO2 + H2O H2SO3

(sulfite)

SO3

SO3 + 2OH SO42 + H2O

(sulfurous acid)

SO3 + H2O H2SO4

(sulfate)

CO2

CO2 + 2OH CO3 + H2O

(sulfuric acid)

CO2 + H2O H2CO3

(carbonate)

SiO2

(carbonic acid)

SiO2 + 2OH SiO32 + H2O

NO REACTION

(silicate)
* Note: The oxidation numbers of the elements are unchanged in these reactions.

Table 1.4 Reactions of acidic oxides.


Q1.4

One of the oxides of chlorine is Cl2O. It is an acidic oxide with a corresponding oxyanion, CIO (hypochlorite), and a
corresponding oxyacid, HCl0 (hypochlorous acid).
a. Write an equation for the reaction of Cl2O with hydroxide ions.
...................................................................................................................................................................................................

b. Write an equation for the reaction of Cl2O with water.


...................................................................................................................................................................................................

Basic oxides
Basic oxides react with acids (or hydrogen ions) to produce positively charged metal ions and water molecules.
When reacting in this way, the solid oxides appear to dissolve in the acid.
If soluble in water, basic oxides react with water to form metal ions and hydroxide ions in solution.
Basic oxides are the oxides of metals. They are the oxides of elements with low electronegativity and are ionic
compounds consisting of metal ions and oxide, O2, ions.
Table 1.5 summarises the reactions of some basic oxides with hydrogen ions and with water (where reactions
occur).
Oxide

*Reaction with hydrogen ions

*Reaction with water

Na2O

Na2O + 2H+ 2Na+ + H2O

Na2O + H2O 2Na+ + 20H

MgO

MgO + 2H+ Mg2+ + H2O

MgO + H2O Mg2+ + 20H

CuO

CuO + 2H+ Cu2+ + H2O

NO REACTION

Fe2O3

Fe2O3 + 6H+ 2Fe3+ + 3H2O

NO REACTION

* Note: The oxidation numbers of the elements are unchanged in these reactions.

Table 1.5 Reactions of basic oxides.

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

Table 1.4 below summarises the reactions of some acidic oxides with hydroxide ions and with water (where
reactions occur).

14

SACE 2 Essentials Chemistry Workbook


Q1.5

Barium oxide, BaO, and lithium oxide, Li2O, are both basic oxides.

CHAPTER 1

a. Write an equation for the reaction of BaO with hydrogen ions.


...................................................................................................................................................................................................

b. Write an equation for the reaction of Li2O with water.


...................................................................................................................................................................................................

Amphoteric oxides
Amphoteric oxides display basic character by reacting with acids (or hydrogen ions) to produce positively
charged monatomic ions and water molecules. When reacting in this way, the solid oxides appear to dissolve
in the acid.
Amphoteric oxides also display acidic character by reacting with hydroxide ions to produce oxyanions and
water molecules. When reacting in this way, the solid oxides appear to dissolve in the hydroxide solution.
Amphoteric oxides do not react with water.
Table 1.6 summarises the reactions of two amphoteric oxides with hydrogen ions and with hydroxide ions.
Oxide

Reaction with hydrogen ions

ZnO

ZnO + 2H+ Zn2+ + H2O

Al2O3

Al2O3 + 6H 2Al + 3H2O

Reaction with hydroxide ions


ZnO + 2OH ZnO22 + H2O
(zincate)

3+

Al2O3 + 2OH 2AlO2 + H2O


(aluminate)

Table 1.6 Reactions of two amphoteric oxides.

Q1.6

Lead oxide, PbO, is an amphoteric oxide.


a. Write an equation for the reaction of PbO with hydrogen ions.
...................................................................................................................................................................................................

b. Write an equation for the reaction of PbO with hydroxide ions, given that it forms the plumbate ion, PbO22.
...................................................................................................................................................................................................

Q1.7

When rubidium oxide is mixed with water the resulting solution has a pH greater than 7.
Explain, with the aid of an equation, why the solution has a pH greater than 7.
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

Chapter 1: Elemental and environmental chemistry

15

Molecular substances

Small molecules are formed when atoms of non-metal elements covalently bond to each other. These non-metal
elements are located in the top right-hand section of the periodic table:
III

IV

VI

VII

Si

Cl

As

Se

Br

Hydrogen atoms can also form small molecules with atoms of the elements shown above.

There is a small number of non-metal elements and non-metal non-metal compounds that
are not molecular.
For example, silicon dioxide, SiO2, diamond, C, and silicon carbide, SiC, are not molecular.
These substances consist of continuous lattices of atoms bonded to each other by covalent
bonds. They are commonly referred to as continuous covalent substances.

Properties of molecular elements and compounds


Elements and compounds which consist of small molecules, have low melting and boiling points and are
usually gases or liquids at room temperature. Those that are solids generally have melting points below 200C.
Molecular elements and compounds are poor conductors of electricity in the solid, liquid and gaseous state.
Q1.8

Predict whether the following elements or compounds are molecular or not:


Molecular (Yes/No)
Element 1

Boiling point 58C, melting point 7C

Element 2

Boiling point 2,680C, melting point 1,410C

Compound 1

Compound of calcium and sulfur

Compound 2

Formula Cl20

Compound 3

Liquid at room temperature. This liquid is a non-conductor


of electricity

Compound 4

Silver chloride

Copyright Adelaide Tuition Centre. Breach of copyright is an illegal act.

CHAPTER 1

Compounds and elements consisting of molecules are described as molecular substances. Molecules consisting
of 10 or less atoms per molecule may be considered as small molecules. Some common examples are CO2,
SO2, H2S, Cl2, NH3, O3, CFCl3 and H2SO4.