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As all substances must be electrically neutral, the total number of positive charges on the cations of an ionic compound must equal the total number of negative charges on its anions. The formula of an ionic compound represents the simplest ratio of the numbers of ions necessary to give identical numbers of positive and negative charges. For example, the formula for aluminum oxide, Al 2 O 3 , indicates that this ionic compound contains two aluminum cations, Al 3+ , for every three oxide anions, O 2− [thus, (2 × +3) + (3 × –2) = 0].

It is important to note, however, that the formula for an ionic compound does not represent the physical arrangement of its ions. It is incorrect to refer to a sodium chloride (NaCl) “molecule” because there is not a single ionic bond, per se, between any specific pair of sodium and chloride ions. The attractive forces between ions are isotropic—the same in all directions—meaning that any particular ion is equally attracted to all of the nearby ions of opposite charge. This results in the ions arranging themselves into a tightly bound, three-dimensional lattice structure. Sodium chloride, for example, consists of a regular arrangement of equal numbers of Na + cations and Cl anions ( [link] ).

Two diagrams are shown and labeled “a” and “b.” Diagram a shows a cube made up of twenty-seven alternating purple and green spheres. The purple spheres are smaller than the green spheres. Diagram b shows the same spheres, but this time, they are spread out and connected in three dimensions by white rods. The purple spheres are labeled “N superscript postive sign” while the green are labeled “C l superscript negative sign.”
The atoms in sodium chloride (common table salt) are arranged to (a) maximize opposite charges interacting. The smaller spheres represent sodium ions, the larger ones represent chloride ions. In the expanded view (b), the geometry can be seen more clearly. Note that each ion is “bonded” to all of the surrounding ions—six in this case.

The strong electrostatic attraction between Na + and Cl ions holds them tightly together in solid NaCl. It requires 769 kJ of energy to dissociate one mole of solid NaCl into separate gaseous Na + and Cl ions:

NaCl ( s ) Na + ( g ) + Cl ( g ) Δ H = 769 kJ

Electronic structures of cations

When forming a cation, an atom of a main group element tends to lose all of its valence electrons, thus assuming the electronic structure of the noble gas that precedes it in the periodic table. For groups 1 (the alkali metals) and 2 (the alkaline earth metals), the group numbers are equal to the numbers of valence shell electrons and, consequently, to the charges of the cations formed from atoms of these elements when all valence shell electrons are removed. For example, calcium is a group 2 element whose neutral atoms have 20 electrons and a ground state electron configuration of 1 s 2 2 s 2 2 p 6 3 s 2 3 p 6 4 s 2 . When a Ca atom loses both of its valence electrons, the result is a cation with 18 electrons, a 2+ charge, and an electron configuration of 1 s 2 2 s 2 2 p 6 3 s 2 3 p 6 . The Ca 2+ ion is therefore isoelectronic with the noble gas Ar.

For groups 12–17, the group numbers exceed the number of valence electrons by 10 (accounting for the possibility of full d subshells in atoms of elements in the fourth and greater periods). Thus, the charge of a cation formed by the loss of all valence electrons is equal to the group number minus 10. For example, aluminum (in group 13) forms 3+ ions (Al 3+ ).

Questions & Answers

what is aromaticity
Usman Reply
aromaticity is a conjugated pi system specific to organic rings like benzene, which have an odd number of electron pairs within the system that allows for exceptional molecular stability
what is caustic soda
Ogbonna Reply
sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
what is distilled water
is simply means a condensed water vapour
advantage and disadvantage of water to human and industry
Abdulrahman Reply
a hydrocarbon contains 7.7 percent by mass of hydrogen and 92.3 percent by mass of carbon
Timothy Reply
how many types of covalent r there
JArim Reply
how many covalent bond r there
they are three 3
TYPES OF COVALENT BOND-POLAR BOND-NON POLAR BOND-DOUBLE BOND-TRIPPLE BOND. There are three types of covalent bond depending upon the number of shared electron pairs. A covalent bond formed by the mutual sharing of one electron pair between two atoms is called a "Single Covalent bond.
what is an atom
Rabiu Reply
why is an atom
u answer me first
Atom is indivisible particles which take place in chemical reactions
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Hernandez Reply
what is half reaction?
Makinde Reply
wat is the chemical formular for zinc hydrozide
Ani Reply
what is atomicity
Simbiat Reply
A 45 ml of ph=1,hcl was reacted with a 55l ml of ph=13, naoh solution . what is the final ph
chamini Reply
what is coordination number
coordination number is the number of atoms or ions immediately surrounding a central atom in a complex or crystal
what is isotope
who is the father of chemistry
Roland Reply
Antoine Lavoisier. Father of modern chemistry
What is geometric isomerism
Imoh Reply
pls I don't really know teach me
geometric isomerism are molecules that are locked into their spatial position with respect to one another due to a double Bond or ring structure
Chromatography is a physical method of seperation where by mixtures that are in two phrases are separated
Lexzzy Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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