Chemical compound

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A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one element held together by chemical bonds. Two atoms of the same element bonded in a molecule do not form a chemical compound, since this would require two different elements.


There are four types of compounds, depending on how the constituent atoms are held together:

A chemical formula specifies the number of atoms of each element in a compound molecule, using the standard abbreviations for the chemical elements and numerical subscripts. For example, a water molecule has formula H2O indicating two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. Many chemical compounds have a unique CAS number identifier assigned by the Chemical Abstracts Service. Globally, more than 350,000 chemical compounds (including mixtures of chemicals) have been registered for production and use. [1]

A compound can be converted to a different chemical composition by interaction with a second chemical compound via a chemical reaction. In this process, bonds between atoms are broken in both of the interacting compounds, and new bonds formed.

2006-02-13 Drop-impact.jpg Water-3D-balls.png
Pure water (H2O) is an example of a compound: the ball-and-stick model of the molecule (above) shows the spatial association of two parts hydrogen (white) and one part(s) oxygen (red)


Any substance consisting of two or more different types of atoms (chemical elements) in a fixed stoichiometric proportion can be termed a chemical compound; the concept is most readily understood when considering pure chemical substances. [2] :15 [3] [4] It follows from their being composed of fixed proportions of two or more types of atoms that chemical compounds can be converted, via chemical reaction, into compounds or substances each having fewer atoms. [5] The ratio of each element in the compound is expressed in a ratio in its chemical formula. [6] A chemical formula is a way of expressing information about the proportions of atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound, using the standard abbreviations for the chemical elements, and subscripts to indicate the number of atoms involved. For example, water is composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom: the chemical formula is H2O. In the case of non-stoichiometric compounds, the proportions may be reproducible with regard to their preparation, and give fixed proportions of their component elements, but proportions that are not integral [e.g., for palladium hydride, PdHx (0.02 < x < 0.58)]. [7]

Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure held together in a defined spatial arrangement by chemical bonds. Chemical compounds can be molecular compounds held together by covalent bonds, salts held together by ionic bonds, intermetallic compounds held together by metallic bonds, or the subset of chemical complexes that are held together by coordinate covalent bonds. [8] Pure chemical elements are generally not considered chemical compounds, failing the two or more atom requirement, though they often consist of molecules composed of multiple atoms (such as in the diatomic molecule H2, or the polyatomic molecule S8, etc.). [8] Many chemical compounds have a unique numerical identifier assigned by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS): its CAS number.

There is varying and sometimes inconsistent nomenclature differentiating substances, which include truly non-stoichiometric examples, from chemical compounds, which require the fixed ratios. Many solid chemical substances—for example many silicate minerals—are chemical substances, but do not have simple formulae reflecting chemically bonding of elements to one another in fixed ratios; even so, these crystalline substances are often called "non-stoichiometric compounds". It may be argued that they are related to, rather than being chemical compounds, insofar as the variability in their compositions is often due to either the presence of foreign elements trapped within the crystal structure of an otherwise known true chemical compound, or due to perturbations in structure relative to the known compound that arise because of an excess of deficit of the constituent elements at places in its structure; such non-stoichiometric substances form most of the crust and mantle of the Earth. Other compounds regarded as chemically identical may have varying amounts of heavy or light isotopes of the constituent elements, which changes the ratio of elements by mass slightly.



Ionic compounds

Intermetallic compounds


Bonding and forces

Compounds are held together through a variety of different types of bonding and forces. The differences in the types of bonds in compounds differ based on the types of elements present in the compound.

London dispersion forces are the weakest force of all intermolecular forces. They are temporary attractive forces that form when the electrons in two adjacent atoms are positioned so that they create a temporary dipole. Additionally, London dispersion forces are responsible for condensing non polar substances to liquids, and to further freeze to a solid state dependent on how low the temperature of the environment is. [9]

A covalent bond, also known as a molecular bond, involves the sharing of electrons between two atoms. Primarily, this type of bond occurs between elements that fall close to each other on the periodic table of elements, yet it is observed between some metals and nonmetals. This is due to the mechanism of this type of bond. Elements that fall close to each other on the periodic table tend to have similar electronegativities, which means they have a similar affinity for electrons. Since neither element has a stronger affinity to donate or gain electrons, it causes the elements to share electrons so both elements have a more stable octet.

Ionic bonding occurs when valence electrons are completely transferred between elements. Opposite to covalent bonding, this chemical bond creates two oppositely charged ions. The metals in ionic bonding usually lose their valence electrons, becoming a positively charged cation. The nonmetal will gain the electrons from the metal, making the nonmetal a negatively charged anion. As outlined, ionic bonds occur between an electron donor, usually a metal, and an electron acceptor, which tends to be a nonmetal. [10]

Hydrogen bonding occurs when a hydrogen atom bonded to an electronegative atom forms an electrostatic connection with another electronegative atom through interacting dipoles or charges. [11] [12] [13] [14]


A compound can be converted to a different chemical composition by interaction with a second chemical compound via a chemical reaction. In this process, bonds between atoms are broken in both of the interacting compounds, and then bonds are reformed so that new associations are made between atoms. Schematically, this reaction could be described as AB + CD → AD + CB, where A, B, C, and D are each unique atoms; and AB, AD, CD, and CB are each unique compounds.

See also

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Chemical bond Lasting attraction between atoms that enables the formation of chemical compounds

A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atoms, ions or molecules that enables the formation of chemical compounds. The bond may result from the electrostatic force of attraction between oppositely charged ions as in ionic bonds or through the sharing of electrons as in covalent bonds. The strength of chemical bonds varies considerably; there are "strong bonds" or "primary bonds" such as covalent, ionic and metallic bonds, and "weak bonds" or "secondary bonds" such as dipole–dipole interactions, the London dispersion force and hydrogen bonding.

Covalent bond chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms

A covalent bond, also called a molecular bond, is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. These electron pairs are known as shared pairs or bonding pairs, and the stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms, when they share electrons, is known as covalent bonding. For many molecules, the sharing of electrons allows each atom to attain the equivalent of a full outer shell, corresponding to a stable electronic configuration. In organic chemistry, covalent bonds are much more common than ionic bonds.

A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound or molecule, using chemical element symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as parentheses, dashes, brackets, commas and plus (+) and minus (−) signs. These are limited to a single typographic line of symbols, which may include subscripts and superscripts. A chemical formula is not a chemical name, and it contains no words. Although a chemical formula may imply certain simple chemical structures, it is not the same as a full chemical structural formula. Chemical formulae can fully specify the structure of only the simplest of molecules and chemical substances, and are generally more limited in power than are chemical names and structural formulae.

Electronegativity, symbol χ, is a concept that describes the tendency of an atom to attract a shared pair of electrons towards itself. An atom's electronegativity is affected by both its atomic number and the distance at which its valence electrons reside from the charged nucleus. The higher the associated electronegativity number, the more an atom or a substituent group attracts electrons towards itself.

Ionic bonding Chemical bonding involving attraction between ions

Ionic bonding is a type of chemical bonding that involves the electrostatic attraction between oppositely charged ions, and is the primary interaction occurring in ionic compounds. It is one of the main types of bonding along with covalent bonding and metallic bonding. Ions are atoms with an electrostatic charge. Atoms that gain electrons make negatively charged ions. Atoms that lose electrons make positively charged ions. This transfer of electrons is known as electrovalence in contrast to covalence. In the simplest case, the cation is a metal atom and the anion is a nonmetal atom, but these ions can be of a more complex nature, e.g. molecular ions like NH+
or SO2−
. In simpler words, an ionic bond results from the transfer of electrons from a metal to a non-metal in order to obtain a full valence shell for both atoms.

Molecule Electrically neutral entity consisting of more than one atom (n > 1); rigorously, a molecule, in which n > 1 must correspond to a depression on the potential energy surface that is deep enough to confine at least one vibrational state

A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their lack of electrical charge. However, in quantum physics, organic chemistry, and biochemistry, the term molecule is often used less strictly, also being applied to polyatomic ions.

Nonmetal Chemical element that mostly lacks the characteristics of a metal

In chemistry, a nonmetal is a chemical element that mostly lacks the characteristics of a metal. Physically, a nonmetal tends to have a relatively low melting point, boiling point, and density. A nonmetal is typically brittle when solid and usually has poor thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity. Chemically, nonmetals tend to have relatively high ionization energy, electron affinity, and electronegativity. They gain or share electrons when they react with other elements and chemical compounds. Seventeen elements are generally classified as nonmetals: most are gases ; one is a liquid (bromine); and a few are solids. Metalloids such as boron, silicon, and germanium are sometimes counted as nonmetals.

In chemistry, a hydride is the anion of hydrogen, H, or more commonly it is a compound in which one or more hydrogen centres have nucleophilic, reducing, or basic properties. In compounds that are regarded as hydrides, the hydrogen atom is bonded to a more electropositive element or groups. Compounds containing hydrogen bonded to metals or metalloids may also be referred to as hydrides. Common examples are ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6) (or any other hydrocarbon), and Nickel hydride (NiH), used in NiMH rechargeable batteries.

Chemical polarity electrostatic property of a molecule

In chemistry, polarity is a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole moment, with a negatively charged end and a positively charged end.

Lewis structures, also known as Lewis dot diagrams, Lewis dot formulas,Lewis dot structures, electron dot structures, or Lewis electron dot structures (LEDS), are diagrams that show the bonding between atoms of a molecule and the lone pairs of electrons that may exist in the molecule. A Lewis structure can be drawn for any covalently bonded molecule, as well as coordination compounds. The Lewis structure was named after Gilbert N. Lewis, who introduced it in his 1916 article The Atom and the Molecule. Lewis structures extend the concept of the electron dot diagram by adding lines between atoms to represent shared pairs in a chemical bond.

In chemistry, the valence or valency of an element is a measure of its combining power with other atoms when it forms chemical compounds or molecules.

In chemistry, bond energy (BE), also called the mean bond enthalpy or average bond enthalpy is the measure of bond strength in a chemical bond. IUPAC defines bond energy as the average value of the gas-phase bond-dissociation energy for all bonds of the same type within the same chemical species. The larger the average bond energy, per electron-pair bond, of a molecule, the more stable and lower-energy the molecule.

Formal charge Model for charges on atoms in molecules

In chemistry, a formal charge (FC) is the charge assigned to an atom in a molecule, assuming that electrons in all chemical bonds are shared equally between atoms, regardless of relative electronegativity. When determining the best Lewis structure for a molecule, the structure is chosen such that the formal charge on each of the atoms is as close to zero as possible.

An intramolecular force is any force that binds together the atoms making up a molecule or compound, not to be confused with intermolecular forces, which are the forces present between molecules. The subtle difference in the name comes from the Latin roots of English with inter meaning between or among and intra meaning inside. Chemical bonds are considered to be intramolecular forces, for example. These forces are often stronger than intermolecular forces, which are present between atoms or molecules that are not bonded.

The covalent radius of fluorine is a measure of the size of a fluorine atom; it is approximated at about 60 picometres.

This glossary of chemistry terms is a list of terms and definitions relevant to chemistry, including chemical laws, diagrams and formulae, laboratory tools, glassware, and equipment. Chemistry is a physical science concerned with the composition, structure, and properties of matter, as well as the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions; it features an extensive vocabulary and a significant amount of jargon.

A network solid or covalent network solid is a chemical compound in which the atoms are bonded by covalent bonds in a continuous network extending throughout the material. In a network solid there are no individual molecules, and the entire crystal or amorphous solid may be considered a macromolecule. Formulas for network solids, like those for ionic compounds, are simple ratios of the component atoms represented by a formula unit.

Solids can be classified according to the nature of the bonding between their atomic or molecular components. The traditional classification distinguishes four kinds of bonding:

Pauling's principle of electroneutrality states that each atom in a stable substance has a charge close to zero. It was formulated by Linus Pauling in 1948 and later revised. The principle has been used to predict which of a set of molecular resonance structures would be the most significant, to explain the stability of inorganic complexes and to explain the existence of π-bonding in compounds and polyatomic anions containing silicon, phosphorus or sulfur bonded to oxygen; it is still invoked in the context of coordination complexes. However, modern computational techniques indicate many stable compounds have a greater charge distribution than the principle predicts.

The charge-shift bond has been proposed as a new class of chemical bond that sits alongside the three familiar families of covalent, ionic bonds, and metallic bonds where electrons are shared or transferred respectively. The charge shift bond derives its stability from the resonance of ionic forms rather than the covalent sharing of electrons which are often depicted as having electron density between the bonded atoms. A feature of the charge shift bond is that the predicted electron density between the bonded atoms is low. It has long been known from experiment that the accumulation of electronic charge between the bonded atoms is not necessarily a feature of covalent bonds. An example where charge shift bonding has been used to explain the low electron density found experimentally is in the central bond between the inverted tetrahedral carbons in [1.1.1]propellanes. Theoretical calculations on a range of molecules have indicated that a charge shift bond is present, a striking example being fluorine, F2, which is normally described as having a typical covalent bond.


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