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This figure shows three photos connected by right-facing arrows. The first shows a light bulb as part of a complex lab equipment setup. The light bulb is not lit. The second photo shows a substances being heated or set on fire. The third shows the light bulb again which is lit.
Sodium chloride melts at 801 °C and conducts electricity when molten. (credit: modification of work by Mark Blaser and Matt Evans)

In every ionic compound, the total number of positive charges of the cations equals the total number of negative charges of the anions. Thus, ionic compounds are electrically neutral overall, even though they contain positive and negative ions. We can use this observation to help us write the formula of an ionic compound. The formula of an ionic compound must have a ratio of ions such that the numbers of positive and negative charges are equal.

Predicting the formula of an ionic compound

The gemstone sapphire ( [link] ) is mostly a compound of aluminum and oxygen that contains aluminum cations, Al 3+ , and oxygen anions, O 2− . What is the formula of this compound?

This is a photograph of a ring with a sapphire set in it.
Although pure aluminum oxide is colorless, trace amounts of iron and titanium give blue sapphire its characteristic color. (credit: modification of work by Stanislav Doronenko)

Solution

Because the ionic compound must be electrically neutral, it must have the same number of positive and negative charges. Two aluminum ions, each with a charge of 3+, would give us six positive charges, and three oxide ions, each with a charge of 2−, would give us six negative charges. The formula would be Al 2 O 3 .

Check your learning

Predict the formula of the ionic compound formed between the sodium cation, Na + , and the sulfide anion, S 2− .

Answer:

Na 2 S

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Many ionic compounds contain polyatomic ions ( [link] ) as the cation, the anion, or both. As with simple ionic compounds, these compounds must also be electrically neutral, so their formulas can be predicted by treating the polyatomic ions as discrete units. We use parentheses in a formula to indicate a group of atoms that behave as a unit. For example, the formula for calcium phosphate, one of the minerals in our bones, is Ca 3 (PO 4 ) 2 . This formula indicates that there are three calcium ions (Ca 2+ ) for every two phosphate ( PO 4 3− ) groups. The PO 4 3− groups are discrete units, each consisting of one phosphorus atom and four oxygen atoms, and having an overall charge of 3−. The compound is electrically neutral, and its formula shows a total count of three Ca, two P, and eight O atoms.

Predicting the formula of a compound with a polyatomic anion

Baking powder contains calcium dihydrogen phosphate, an ionic compound composed of the ions Ca 2+ and H 2 PO 4 . What is the formula of this compound?

Solution

The positive and negative charges must balance, and this ionic compound must be electrically neutral. Thus, we must have two negative charges to balance the 2+ charge of the calcium ion. This requires a ratio of one Ca 2+ ion to two H 2 PO 4 ions. We designate this by enclosing the formula for the dihydrogen phosphate ion in parentheses and adding a subscript 2. The formula is Ca(H 2 PO 4 ) 2 .

Check your learning

Predict the formula of the ionic compound formed between the lithium ion and the peroxide ion, O 2 2− (Hint: Use the periodic table to predict the sign and the charge on the lithium ion.)

Answer:

Li 2 O 2

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Questions & Answers

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Damian Reply
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are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
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what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
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That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
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Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
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for screen printed electrodes ?
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s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
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or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
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Cied
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abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
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what is system testing?
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Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
AMJAD
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what is the application of nanotechnology?
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In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
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anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
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after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
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name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
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silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
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not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
Azam
Hello
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I'm interested in Nanotube
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this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
Prasenjit
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Practice Key Terms 8

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Source:  OpenStax, Ut austin - principles of chemistry. OpenStax CNX. Mar 31, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11830/1.13
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