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22.S: Chemistry of the Nonmetals (Summary)

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    Descriptive chemistry of the elements is consistent with the various principles discussed earlier. We will focus on trends in and explanations for the observed behavior of the elements.

    22.1: General Concepts: Periodic Trends and Reactions

    Main group elements -- the valence electrons are filling s and p orbitals

    • Three types of main-group elements: metal, metalloid, nonmetal
    • Increasing metallic character going down a group and from right to left across a period
    • Group Work: List the relative properties of the metals:
    • volatility
    • melting and boiling points
    • density
    • thermal conductance
    • electrical conductance
    • appearance as solids
    • brittleness
    • typical structure
    • bonding
    • tendency to lose or gain electrons
    • acidity/basicity of oxides


    Metals are nonvolatile, high melting and boiling points, high density and thermal and electrical conductance, characteristic shine or luster as crystalline solids, malleable and ductile, consist of large arrays of atoms with long-range bonding forces (the metallic bond) between free electrons and cations, tend to lose electrons, oxides are alkaline

    • Group Work: List the relative properties of the non-metals:
    • volatility
    • melting and boiling points
    • density
    • thermal conductance
    • electrical conductance
    • appearance as solids
    • brittleness
    • typical structure
    • bonding
    • tendency to lose or gain electrons
    • acidity/basicity of oxides


    Nonmetals are volatile, low melting and boiling points, low density, brittle or soft as solids, low thermal and electrical conductance, solids dull in appearance, many are discrete small molecules with atoms joined by strong covalent bonds, intermolecular forces between molecules are weak, chemical properties characterized by their tendency to gain electrons, oxides are usually acidic

    • Group Work: Which group of metals is the most reactive?
    • Alkali metals - why?
    • Which group of nonmetals is the most reactive?
    • Halogens - why?
    • Compare the metalloids to the metals and the non-metals.


    • Metalloids: physical properties more like those of metals, but chemical reactivity is more like that of nonmetals; many atomic properties are intermediate between those of metals and of nonmetals Period 2 Elements are Unique
    • Compounds formed between nonmetals tend to be molecular.
    • As we move down the periodic table bonding changes.
    • The third period onwards has accessible d-orbitals that can participate in bonding.
    • Therefore, the octet rule can be broken for the third period onwards.
    • The first member of a group can form π bonds more readily than subsequent members.
    • Si is much larger than C and the 3p orbital is much larger than the 2p orbital, so the overlap between 3p orbitals to form a π3p bond is significantly poorer than for a π2p bond.
    • Since the Si-Si π bond is much weaker than the C-C π bond, Si tends to form σ bonds.
    • Example: CO2 is a gas with O=C=O bonds. SiO2 is a network solid with Si-O bonds.

    Lightest Elements are Unique

    • Properties of the first element in each group are usually more distinctive, while the rest of the elements in a group have similar properties
    • The unusual properties of the first element in a group can be explained on the basis of its unusually small size, which arises because the valence electrons are not shielded from the nucleus and the electrons are held relatively tightly in the atom Metals with Covalent Bonds
    • Small metal ions such as Be2+ are polarizing and pull electrons from nonmetal anions to form partly covalent bonds.
    • Small nonmetals (such as N, O, F) are highly electronegative because of the increased attraction of the nucleus for the electrons at short distances and form multiple bonds because p orbitals can overlap. Chapter 22 22-3

    Diagonal Relationships

    In addition to horizontal and vertical trends, there is a diagonal relationship between elements such as Li and Mg, Be and Al, B and Si, that have an adjacent upper left/lower right relative location in the periodic table.

    • These pairs of elements have similar size and electronegativity, resulting in similar properties. 22.2 Hydrogen Isotopes of Hydrogen
    • There are three isotopes of hydrogen: Protium 1 1H, deuterium 2 1H, and tritium 3 1H.
    • Deuterium (D) is about 0.0156 % of naturally occurring H.
    • Tritium (T) is radioactive with a half-life of 12.3 yr.

    22.2: Hydrogen

    • Hydrogen is unique.
    • Hydrogen has a 1s1 electron configuration so it is placed above Li in the periodic table.
    • However, H is significantly less reactive than the alkali metals.
    • Hydrogen can gain an electron to form H- , which has a He electron configuration. Therefore, H could be placed above the halogens.
    • However, the electron affinity of H is lower than any halogen.
    • Elemental hydrogen is a colorless, odorless gas at room temperature.
    • Since H2 is nonpolar and only has two electrons, the intermolecular forces are weak (boiling point -253°C, melting point -259°C).
    • The H-H bond enthalpy is high (436 kJ/mol). Therefore, reactions with hydrogen are slow and a catalyst needs to be used.
    • When hydrogen reacts with air explosions result (Hindenburg exploded in 1937):

    \[2H2(g) + O2(g) → 2H2O(l) \nonumber \]

    with \(∆H = -571.7 \,kJ/mol\)

    Preparation of Hydrogen

    • In the laboratory hydrogen is usually prepared by reduction of an acid.
    • Zn is added to an acidic solution and hydrogen bubbles are formed.
    • The hydrogen bubbles out of solution and is collected in a flask.
    • The collection flask is usually filled with water so the volume of hydrogen collected is the volume of water displaced.

    In larger quantities, hydrogen can be prepared by the reduction of methane in the presence of steam at 1100°C:

    \[CH4(g) + H2O(g) → CO(g) + 3H2(g) \nonumber \]

    \[CO(g) + H2O(g) → CO2(g) + H2(g) \nonumber \]

    Uses of Hydrogen

    • Hydrogen is used for ammonia production and to hydrogenate vegetable oils to make margarine and shortening.
    • Hydrogen is used to manufacture methanol: [CO(g) + 2H2(g) → CH3OH(g) \nonumber \]
    • Chapter 22

    Binary Hydrogen Compounds

    • There types of binary hydrogen compounds are formed:
    • ionic hydrides (e.g. LiH, made between metals and H);
    • metallic hydrides (e.g. TiH2, made between transition metals and H); and
    • molecular hydrides (e.g. CH4, made between nonmetals and metalloids and H).
    • Thermal stability (measured by ∆G°f) decreases as we go down a group and increases across a period.
    • Most stable is HF.
    • Metal hydrides, such as CaH2, react with water to give H2 and metal hydroxide.

    22.3: Group 18: Nobel Gases

    • Noble gases are very unreactive.
    • All elements have high ionization energies.
    • He is the most important noble gas as liquid helium is used as a coolant.
    • The heavier noble gases react more readily than the lighter ones.
    • The most common compounds of noble gases are xenon fluorides.
    • Xenon fluorides have Xe in the +2 to +8 oxidation states.
    • Noble gas compounds violate the octet rule.
    • In the presence of water, xenon fluorides form oxyfluorides:
    • XeF6(s) + H2O(l) → XeOF4(l) + 2HF
    • XeF6(s) + 3H2O(l) → XeO3(aq) + 6HF
    • The only other noble gas compound known is KrF2, which decomposes at -10°C.
    • Xenon fluorides are more stable than the oxides and oxyfluorides.

    22.4: Group 17: The Halogens

    • F, Cl, Br, I, At
    • Most common are chlorine, bromine, and iodine
    • Fluorine has properties atypical of the group
    • Astatine is radioactive and exists naturally only in very small amounts
    • The halogens exist as diatomic molecules
    • At room temperature, fluorine is a yellow gas, chlorine is a pale green gas, bromine is a red liquid, and iodine is a purple solid
    • The elements have very high ionization energies, typical of nonmetals

    Properties of the Halogens

    Outer electron configurations: ns2np5.

    All halogens have large electron affinities.

    Most common oxidation state is -1, but oxidation states of +1, +3, +5 and +7 are possible.

    Halogens are good oxidizing agents.

    Each halogen is the most electronegative element in its row.

    The properties of the halogens vary regularly with their atomic number. Chapter 22 22-5 Fluorine

    The bond enthalpy of F2 is low. Hence fluorine is very reactive.

    Water is oxidized more readily than fluorine, so F2 cannot be prepared by electrolysis of a salt solution. F2 is an extremely reactive gas, which reacts with all the elements, except oxygen and the lighter noble gases, to form stable fluorides, often explosively.

    F2 is such a strong oxidizing agent that it can convert oxides, including water, to molecular oxygen

    Write a balanced equation for the reaction of F2 with H2O (to form O2 and ??).


    • Chlorine exists as chlorides in sea water, salt lakes, and brine deposits
    • Cl2 gas prepared industrially by the electrolysis of sodium chloride solutions
    • Also a by-product of the preparation of metals by electrolysis of molten salts such as NaCl, MgCl2, and CaCl2
    • Most Cl2 is used as a raw material in the production of other chemicals, in the synthesis of herbicides and insecticides, in the bleaching of textiles and paper, in purifying drinking water, and in the production of plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC)


    • Bromine exists in small quantities in the form of bromides co-existing with chlorides
    • Prepared by reacting a solution containing bromide ion with chlorine
    • Uses of bromine:
    • as a bleach
    • in the manufacture of bromide compounds
    • ethylene bromide, \(C_2H_4Br_2\), used as an antiknock agent in gasoline


    • Iodine exists as iodides in brines and seaweed, and as iodates in deposits of sodium nitrate (NaNO3, or Chile saltpeter)
    • Recovered by oxidation of I- with Cl2 or by reduction of IO3 - with HSO3 -
    • Used as an antiseptic and disinfectant and as a reagent for chemical analysis


    • Not much is known about its chemistry
    • It is highly radioactive; all chemical studies have used small quantities added to iodine solutions and measure behavior by determining where the radioactivity ends up.
    • The total amount in the Earth's crust is estimated to be < 30 g at any one time.


    • In addition to the common -1 and 0 oxidation numbers, the halogens (except for fluorine) exist with each positive oxidation number through +7
    • Halogen oxides are known with oxidation numbers as high as +7; most are very strong oxidizing agents

    22-6 Oxyacids and Oxyanions

    • Fluorine only forms one oxyacid: HOF. Oxygen is in the zero oxidation state.
    • All are strong oxidizing agents.
    • All are unstable and decompose readily.
    • Oxyanions are more stable than oxyacids.
    • Acid strength increases as the oxidation state of the halogen increases.

    Periodic Acid

    • Periodic (HIO4) and paraperiodic (H5IO6) acid have iodine in the +7 oxidation state.
    • Periodic acid is a strong acid, paraperiodic acid is a weak acid (Ka1 = 2.8 × 10-2, Ka2 = 4.9 × 10-9).
    • The large iodine atom allows 6 oxygen atoms around it.
    • Smaller halogens cannot form this type of compound.


    Many aqueous halogen species are susceptible to disproportionation:

    • ClO2
    • HClO2
    • HOCl
    • Cl2 (in base)
    • HOBr
    • Br2 (in base)
    • HOI
    • IO-
    • I2 (in base)

    How do we decide which species will disproportionate?

    22.5: Oxygen

    Properties of Oxygen

    • Oxygen has two allotropes: O2 and O3.
    • O2 is a colorless, odorless gas at room temperature.
    • The electron configuration is [He]2s2 2p4 , which means the dominant oxidation state is 2-.
    • The O=O bond is strong (bond enthalpy 495 kJ/mol). Preparation of Oxygen
    • Commercially: obtained by fractional distillation of air. (Normal boiling point of O2 is -183°C and N2 -196°C.)
    • Laboratory preparation of oxygen is the catalytic decomposition of KClO3 in the presence of \[MnO2: 2KClO3(s) → 2KCl(s) + 3O2(g). \nonumber \]
    • Atmospheric oxygen is replenished by photosynthesis (process in plants where CO2 is converted to O2 in the presence of sunlight).

    Uses of Oxygen

    • Most widely used as an oxidizing agent. (E.g. in the steel industry to remove impurities.)
    • Oxygen is used in medicine.
    • It is used with acetylene, C2H2 for oxyacetylene welding: \[2C2H2(g) + 5O2(g) → 4CO2(g) + 2H2O(g) \nonumber \]


    • Pale blue, poisonous gas.
    • Ozone dissociates to form oxygen: O3(g) → O2(g) + O(g) ∆H° = 107 kJ
    • Ozone is a stronger oxidizing agent than oxygen: O3(g) + 2H+ (aq) + 2e- → O2(g) + H2O(l) E° = 2.07 V O2(g) + 4H+ (aq) + 4e- → 2H2O(l) E° = 1.23 V
    • Ozone can be made by passing an electric current through dry O2: 3O2(g) → 2O3(g)

    Peroxides and Superoxides

    • Peroxides: have an O-O bond and O in the -1 oxidation state.
    • Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and decomposes into water and oxygen: 2H2O2(l) → 2H2O(l) + O2(g) ∆H = -196.0 kJ
    • The oxygen produced will kill bacteria.
    • Peroxides are important in biochemistry: it is produced when O2 is metabolized.


    • Disproportionation occurs when an element is simultaneous oxidized and reduced: 2H+ (aq) + H2O2(aq) + 2e- → 2H2O(l) E° = 1.78 V O2(g) + 2H+ (aq) + 2e- → H2O2(aq) E° = 0.68 V
    • Disproportionation: 2H2O2(aq) → 2H2O(l) + O2(g) E° = 1.10 V


    • Superoxides: have an O-O bond and O in an oxidation state of -½ (superoxide ion is O2- ).
    • Usually form with active metals (KO2, RbO2 and CsO2).
    • Potassium superoxide reacts with water vapor from the breath to form oxygen gas. 4KO2 + 2H2O → 3O2 + 4KOH 22.6 The Other Group 6A Elements: S, Se, Te, and Po (Chalcogens)
    • Trend that affects other properties is the increase in metallic character down the group, indicated by the decreases in ionization energy and electronegativity

    22.6: The Other Group 16 Elements: S, Se, Te, and Po

    • Nonmetallic character dominates in this group
    • Nonmetallic O exists as diatomic molecules
    • Nonmetallic S exists as various covalently bonded polyatomic forms
    • Metalloids Se and Te are more metallic than S, but bear some resemblance to S
    • Po is even more metallic, but its behavior is not well known since it is a rare, radioactive element
    • Oxygen dominated by oxidation number -2
    • The other elements have oxidation numbers from -2 through +6, the higher ones being quite common, especially in combination with oxygen


    • S found in earth's crust as sulfide and sulfate minerals and as the free element
    • Also a small but critical constituent of plant and animal tissue
    • Occurs as sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide in the atmosphere
    • Elemental sulfur is a tasteless, odorless, combustible yellow solid existing in a variety of allotropes with different molecular structures
    • Rhombic and monoclinic forms consist of S8 rings
    • Major use of sulfur is the preparation of sulfuric acid, which is used primarily to make phosphate fertilizers and impure phosphoric acid from phosphate rock
    • Sulfur forms binary compounds with all the elements except iodine and the noble gases
    • Hydrogen sulfide (H2S):
    • usually prepared by reaction of a metal sulfide with an acid
    • gas well known for its "rotten-egg" odor
    • extremely poisonous
    • largest source of sulfur in the atmosphere
    • Sulfur reacts with oxygen to form two oxides, sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide, which form oxoanions (SO3 2- and SO4 2-) and oxoacids (H2SO3 and H2SO4) by reaction with metal oxides or water
    • Sulfuric acid is a powerful dehydrating agent, strong acid and moderate oxidizer.
    • Sulfuric acid removes H2O from the sugar leaving a black mass of C. Steam is produced because the reaction is very exothermic.
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    What are the structures of:

    • SO2
    • SO3
    • SO3 2-
    • SO4 2-
    • H2SO3
    • H2SO4

    22.7: Nitrogen

    • Electronic configuration of the Group VA (15) elements is ns2 np3
    • Little resemblance between the chemistry of nitrogen and the other elements in this group Chapter


    • Nitrogen as an element is the colorless, odorless, diatomic molecule N2, the major constituent of air
    • An essential component of all living matter in protein and amino acids
    • Nitrogen compounds are important components of chemical fertilizers
    • Most uses of nitrogen involve its compounds, such as ammonia and nitrogen oxides.
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)
    • List the formulas for all the oxides that you expect nitrogen to form.

    Preparation of Nitrogen

    • N2 is produced by fractional distillation of air.
    • Nitrogen is fixed by forming NH3 (Haber Process).
    • NH3 is converted into other useful chemicals (NO, NO2, nitrites and nitrates).


    • Positive oxidation numbers of nitrogen occur in the oxides, including N2O, NO, N2O3, NO2, N2O4, and N2O5.
    • Aqueous N2O3 is converted to nitrous acid (HNO2), and N2O5 to nitric acid (HNO3).
    • Nitrous oxide, N2O, occurs naturally in the atmosphere, as a result of the natural degradation of proteins.
    • N2O can be formed by thermal decomposition of NH4NO3
    • N2O is used as an anesthetic (in laughing gas)
    • Nitric oxide, NO, is formed by reaction of Cu metal with dilute aqueous nitric acid or in high temperature combustion processes and in the oxidation of ammonia gas commercially
    • NO reacts rapidly with O2 to form reddish-brown NO2.
    • Dinitrogen trioxide results from reaction between NO and NO2.
    • N2O3 is blue as a liquid.
    • Gaseous N2O3 reacts with water to form the weak acid, nitrous acid, HNO2.
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)
    • Write an equation for the preparation of nitrogen dioxide from common laboratory chemicals.


    • Nitrogen dioxide, NO2, is a poisonous, reddish-brown gas with an irritating odor, which exists in equilibrium with colorless N2O4
    • Dinitrogen pentoxide, N2O5, is a volatile low-melting white solid; dissolved in water, it forms HNO3, nitric acid

    22.8: The Other Group 15 Elements: P, AS, Sb, and Bi

    • Although nitrogen is found in nature primarily as unreactive N2, the other elements are found only in compounds
    • Metallic nature increases down the group
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{43}\)

    Predict the following properties for phosphorus:

    • metallic character
    • type of bonding
    • acid/base character of oxides
    • formulas of oxides Phosphorus
    • Phosphorus is essentially nonmetallic, forms covalent bonds and has acidic oxides Group Work
    • Predict the acid/base character of the oxides of As, Sb, and Bi, relative to those of P. How can we explain the predicted trend? Group 5A
    • Arsenic has properties between those of a nonmetal and a metalloid, with amphoteric (though more acidic than basic) oxides
    • Antimony is mostly metallic, but with some properties of a metalloid, and amphoteric (more basic than acidic) oxides
    • Bismuth, is metallic, with basic oxides
    • These trends are consistent with dramatic decreases in ionization energy down the group
    • Trends in oxidation number:
    • N and P range from -3 to +5
    • As primarily +3 and +5
    • Sb mostly +3, occasionally +5
    • Bi almost exclusively +3, rarely as +5
    • The lower, more metallic elements in the group have fewer stable oxidation numbers than N


    • Phosphorus found as phosphates in 190 different minerals, most importantly apatite, Ca5(PO4)3OH
    • Phosphates are an important constituent of all bone tissue
    • Mainly occurs in phosphorus minerals (e.g. phosphate rock, Ca3(PO4)2).
    • Elemental P4 produced by reduction \[2 Ca3(PO4)2(s) + 6SiO2(s) + 10C(s) → P4(g) + 6CaSiO3(l) + 10CO(g) \nonumber \]
    • Phosphoric acid, made from phosphate rock, is one of the ingredients in Coca-Cola.
    • Phosphorus occurs as 19 allotropes, the principal ones being white (tetrahedral P4), red, and black phosphorus
    • White phosphorus is a soft solid, with molecules held together by weak intermolecular forces.
    • White phosphorus is poisonous and causes painful skin burns.
    • White phosphorus is quite reactive and ignites spontaneously in air
    • Red phosphorus is an amorphous solid formed by heating white phosphorus
    • Red phosphorus involves P4 tetrahedral molecules bonded to one another in long chains
    • Black phosphorus is still less reactive
    • Black phosphorus may be amorphous or have a graphite-like structure; it is metallic in appearance and an electrical conductor
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    What acids are formed when the oxides, P4O6 and P4O10, are reacted with excess water?


    • Two oxides of phosphorus, P4O6 and P4O10, formed by burning phosphorus
    • React with water to form phosphorous acid, H3PO3 and phosphoric acid, H3PO4
    • P4O10 is used as a drying agent because of its affinity for water. 22.9 Carbon
    • Carbon constitutes about 0.027 % of the earthís crust.
    • Carbon is the main constituent of living matter.
    • Study of carbon compounds is called organic chemistry.
    • Carbon forms more compounds than all other elements except hydrogen; typical compounds are the hydrocarbons and their derivatives
    • Exists as diamond, graphite, and an amorphous form, as well as the recently discovered allotrope C60, called buckminsterfullerene
    • Diamond: clear crystalline form of carbon, one of the hardest substances known, can be synthesized from graphite with high temperature and pressure and a metal catalyst
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Why is diamond so hard, while graphite is soft and slippery, even though both are pure carbon?

    22.9: Carbon

    • Graphite:
      • slippery gray-black solid
      • strong covalent bonds hold atoms together in each layer, but the layers are bonded only by weak van der Waals forces, so the layers slide across one another readily
      • found widely distributed in the earth's crust and synthesized from amorphous carbon
    • Uses of graphite:
      • crucibles
      • lubricants
      • pencils
      • nuclear reactors (to slow down fast neutrons)
      • electrodes for electrolysis reactions
    • Amorphous carbon:
      • carbon blacks
      • charcoal
      • activated carbon
      • soot
      • coke
    • Essentially microcrystalline forms of graphite with no layering
    • Formed by thermal decomposition or partial decomposition of coal, petroleum, natural gas, and wood with an insufficient supply of oxygen
    • burning oil gives lampblack
    • heating coal in the absence of air produces coke
    • heating wood in the absence of air gives charcoal
    • Carbon black used as a filler in rubber tires to increase toughness and prevent brittleness
    • Lampblack used in inks, paints, coating on carbon paper
    • Charcoal used:
      • in filters to adsorb odors
      • in gas masks to adsorb poisonous gases
      • in the decolorizing of sugar
      • in water treatment
      • in the reclamation of dry-cleaning solvents
    • Coke used in the extraction of metals from their oxide ores
    • Buckminsterfullerene consists of molecules of C60 formed by laser or high- temperature carbon arc vaporization of graphite
    • One member of a class of new forms of carbon called fullerenes, which consist of clusters of carbon atoms containing even numbers from 44 to 84
    • C60 exists as a truncated icosahedron, which contains 12 pentagonal faces and 20 hexagonal faces
    • Remarkable physical stability, but chemically reactive
    • Now being prepared as tubes, into which metals can be inserted. These are the thinnest capillary tubes known.
    • Elemental carbon is relatively unreactive at room temperature
    • Insoluble in water, dilute acids and bases, and organic solvents
    • At high temperatures, carbon becomes highly reactive and combines directly with many elements, including oxygen
    • Carbon at high temperatures also reduces water, metal oxides, oxoanions (e.g., phosphate in phosphate rock), hydrogen

    Oxides of Carbon

    • Carbon forms CO and CO2.
    • CO is very toxic (binds irreversibly to Fe in hemoglobin, causing respiratory arrest).
    • CO also has a lone pair on C, which is unusual.
    • CO is a good Lewis base Ni(CO)4 forms when Ni is warmed in CO
    • CO can be used as a fuel 2CO(g) + O2(g) → 2CO2(g) ∆H = -566 kJ Chapter 22 22-13
    • CO is a good reducing agent Fe3O4(s) + 4CO(g) → 3Fe(s) + 4CO2(g)
    • CO2 is produced when organic compounds are burned in oxygen: C(s) + O2(g) → CO2(g) CH4(g) + 2O2(g) → CO2(g) + 2H2O(l)
    • CO2 is produced by treating carbonates with acid.
    • Fermentation of sugar to produce alcohol also produces CO2: C6H12O6(aq) → 2C2H5OH(aq) + 2CO2(g)
    • At atmospheric pressure, CO2 condenses to form CO2(s) or dry ice.
    • CO2 is used as dry ice (refrigeration), carbonation of beverages, washing soda (Na2CO3.10H2O) and baking soda (NaHCO3.10H2O).

    Carbonic Acid and Carbonates

    • When CO2 dissolves in water (moderately soluble) carbonic acid forms: \[CO2(aq) + H2O(l) ! H2CO3(aq) \nonumber \]
    • Carbonic acid is responsible for giving carbonated beverages a sharp acidic taste.
    • Partial neutralization of H2CO3 gives hydrogen carbonates (bicarbonates) and full neutralization gives carbonates.
    • Many minerals contain CO3 2-.
    • At elevated temperatures CaCO3 decomposes: \[CaCO3(s) → CaO(s) + 2CO2(g) \nonumber \]
    • This reaction is the commercial source of lime, CaO.
    • CaO reacts with water and CO2 to form CaCO3 which binds the sand in mortar: CaO(s) + H2O(l) ! Ca2+(aq) + 2OH- (aq) Ca2+(aq) + 2OH- (aq) + CO2(aq) → CaCO3(s) + H2O(l)


    • Carbon combines with elements with a lower electronegativity to form carbides, which exist in three classes
    • Salt-like carbides form with the most electropositive metals and are ionic, so they are hydrolyzed by water or dilute acid to give hydrocarbons
    • Interstitial carbides are formed with transition metals, are very hard and have very high melting points, high metallic conductivity, and metallic luster; they consist of a metal with carbon atoms located in some of the interstitial sites (or holes) in the metal structure
    • Covalent carbides include those of silicon and boron, which are close in size and electronegativity to carbon; they are completely covalent and form infinite network structures, are exceptionally hard materials widely used as abrasives 22.10 The Other Group 4A Elements: Si, Ge, Sn, and Pb General Characteristics of Group 4A Elements
    • The electronegativities are low.
    • The dominant oxidation state for Ge, Sn and Pb is +2.
    • Carbon has a coordination number of 4, the other members have higher coordination numbers.
    • C-C bonds are very strong, so C tends to form long chains.
    • Because the Si-O bond is stronger than the Si-Si bond, Si tends to form oxides (silicates).
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Compare the following properties on going down Group 4A:

    • Metallic character
    • Ionization energies
    • Melting points
    • Acid/base nature of oxides

    22.10: The Other Group 14 Elements: Si, Ge, Sn, and Pb

    • Si is nonmetallic/metalloid with only some of its chemistry similar to carbon
    • Ge is a metalloid
    • Sn and Pb are metallic
    • Ionization energies and melting points decrease down the group, reflecting the change from nonmetal to metal
    • Carbon bonds readily to itself
    • This tendency diminishes on going down the group because the bond strength decreases considerably as the elements get larger
    • Oxidation number +4 dominates near the top of the group, +2 becomes more stable down the group


    • Silicon exists in the earth's crust as silicon dioxide and over 800 silicate minerals
    • Elemental silicon obtained by reduction of SiO2 with C or CaC2 at high temperature, purified by zone refining \[SiO2(l) + 2C(s) → Si(l) + 2CO(g) \nonumber \]
    • Silicon:
      • brittle gray-black metallic-looking solid
      • quite hard
      • high melting point
      • diamond-like tetrahedral network structure
      • inert at room temperature but reactive at high temperatures
    • Used in semiconductor devices
    • Silicon hydrides or silanes arise from reaction of Mg2Si with acids, giving a mixture of SiH4, Si2H6, Si3H8, Si4H10, Si5H12, and Si6H14
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    What is the structure and bonding for \(Si_2H_6\)?


    • Silanes are quite reactive:
    • The first two are stable. Chapter 22 22-15
    • The others decompose to give SiH4, Si2H6, and H2.
    • Much more reactive than the corresponding alkanes because of the availability of empty 3d orbitals that can be used to form bonds with another reactant
    • They are spontaneously flammable in air. Group Work
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    • SiO2, found as quartz, is quite hard. What feature of its structure gives rise to this hardness?


    • SiO2 exists as polymeric (SiO2)n, which has silicon covalently bonded to four bridging oxygen atoms.
    • Extended covalent bonding network
    • Hard, high-melting solid
    • Glass is formed by heating together silicon dioxide, alkali metal and alkaline earth metal oxides, and sometimes other oxides, the particular mixture controlling the properties of the glass.
    • Silicate structure is somewhat random in contrast to crystalline silicates
    • Some bonds are under more strain than others, so the glass melts over a range of temperatures and can be softened without melting
    • 90 % of the earthís crust is composed of compounds of Si and O.
    • Silicates are compounds where Si has four O atoms surrounding it in a tetrahedral arrangement.
    • The oxidation state of Si is +4.
    • The silicate tetrahedra are building blocks for more complicated structures.
    • Many silicates naturally with the basic structural unit being the SiO4 tetrahedron occurring in several varieties:
      • singly
      • small groups sharing oxygen atoms
      • small cyclic groups
      • infinite chains
      • double-stranded chains (or bands)
      • infinite sheets
    • These few structures form many hundreds of minerals by combination of silicate anions with metal cations.


    • The silicate structure is reflected in the physical structure of minerals such as mica and asbestos.

    22.11: Boron

    • Black crystalline element, extremely hard and brittle, low density, high melting point and boiling point, low electrical conductivity (so classified as a semiconductor), used in semiconductor electronics and added to steel to increase strength and to copper to increase electrical conductivity
    • Similarities of some properties to those of carbon, of others to those of silicon (due to Chapter 22 22-16 the diagonal relationship leading to similar size and electronegativity)
    • Carbon, silicon, and boron all form covalently-bonded extended network solids and covalent halides
    • Occurs in deposits of borax, Na2B4O7 . 10H2O
    • Borax used as an additive to laundry detergents to soften the water.
    • Which U.S. president was associated with Twenty Mule Team Borax?
    • Resembles metals in its physical properties but is more like nonmetals chemically
    • Chemical behavior is complex and unusual: ionization energy is unusually high, so formation of a cation is difficult, high electronegativity (comparable to nonmetals)
    • All its compounds are covalent
    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    • What is the valence electron configuration of boron? How many covalent bonds will it normally form?


    • Valence electron configuration 2s2 2p1 , so forms only three normal covalent bonds, but electron deficiency makes it a good Lewis acid
    • Oxidation number +3 common, but others found in boranes
    • B3+ does not exist in aqueous solution. Why not?
    • Reacts with F2 and Cl2 to give trihalides
    • Great affinity for O2, which is used to remove oxygen from metal oxides to purify molten metals
    • B reacts with N2 at high temperature to give solid BN.
    • BN is very stable due to its graphite-like structure, which arises from the presence of only 3 valence electrons and the tendency to use sp2 hybrid orbitals.
    • BN is also known in a diamond-like structure, which is formed by application of high temperature and pressure, and is extremely hard and is used as an abrasive.
    • Large number of hydrides have been prepared
    • BH3 is known but very unstable (reactive)
    • Simplest stable one is diborane, B2H6, which decomposes to other boranes, e.g. B5H9, when heated
    • Unusual structure and bonding in the boranes, in which hydrogens act as bridges between boron and the B-H-B arrangement shares two electrons between three atoms (called three center bonding)
    • Because of their electron deficiencies, boranes are highly reactive
    • Diborane is very reactive:

    \[B2H6(g) + 3O2(g) → B2O3(s) + 3H2O(g) \nonumber \]

    with ∆H = -2030 kJ

    • Some boranes are reactive (B5H9) while some are stable in air at room temperature (B10H14).
    • B2O3 is the only important boron oxide.
    • Boric acid, H3BO3 or B(OH)3 is a weak acid (Ka = 5.8 × 10-10).
    • Boric acid is used as an eye wash.

    22.S: Chemistry of the Nonmetals (Summary) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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