Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Group 16: The Oxygen Family (The Chalcogens)

  • Page ID
    567
  • [ "article:topic-guide", "showtoc:no" ]

    The oxygen family, also called the chalcogens, consists of the elements found in Group 16 of the periodic table and is considered among the main group elements. It consists of the elements oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium and polonium. These can be found in nature in both free and combined states.

    • Group 16: General Properties and Reactions
      The oxygen family, also called the chalcogens, consists of the elements found in Group 16 of the periodic table and is considered among the main group elements. It consists of the elements oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium and polonium. These can be found in nature in both free and combined states. The group 16 elements are intimately related to life.
    • Chemistry of Oxygen (Z=8)
      Oxygen is an element that is widely known by the general public because of the large role it plays in sustaining life. Without oxygen, animals would be unable to breathe and would consequently die. Oxygen is not only important to supporting life, but plays an important role in many other chemical reactions. Oxygen is the most common element in the earth's crust and makes up about 20% of the air we breathe.
    • Chemistry of Sulfur (Z=16)
      Sulfur is a chemical element that is represented with the chemical symbol "S" and the atomic number 16 on the periodic table. Because it is 0.0384% of the Earth's crust, sulfur is the seventeenth most abundant element following strontium. Sulfur also takes on many forms, which include elemental sulfur, organo-sulfur compounds in oil and coal, H2S(g) in natural gas, and mineral sulfides and sulfates.
    • Chemistry of Selenium (Z=34)
      Element number 34, selenium, was discovered by Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius in 1817. Selenium is a non-metal and can be compared chemically to its other non-metal counterparts found in Group 16: The Oxygen Family, such as sulfur and tellurium.
    • Chemistry of Tellurium (Z=52)
      Discovered by von Reichenstein in 1782, tellurium is a brittle metalloid that is relatively rare. It is named from the Latin tellus for "earth". Tellurium can be alloyed with some metals to increase their machinability and is a basic ingredient in the manufacture of blasting caps. Elemental tellurium is occasionally found in nature but is more often recovered from various gold ores.
    • Chemistry of Polonium (Z=84)
      Polonium was discovered in 1898 by Marie Curie and named for her native country of Poland. The discovery was made by extraction of the remaining radioactive components of pitchblende following the removal of uranium. There is only about 10-6 g per ton of ore! Current production for research purposes involves the synthesis of the element in the lab rather than its recovery from minerals. This is accomplished by producing Bi-210 from the abundant Bi-209.
    • Chemistry of Livermorium (Z=116)
      In May of 2012 the IUPAC approved the name "Livermorium" (symbol Lv) for element 116. The new name honors the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1952). A group of researchers of this Laboratory with the heavy element research group of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions took part in the work carried out in Dubna on the synthesis of superheavy elements including element 116.

    Thumbnail: A sample of sulfur a member of the oxygen group of elements. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Ben Mills).