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What are molecules made from? Bonding mechanics.
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| Words: 1250 | Submitted: 09-Mar-2008
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DescriptionWhat are molecules made from? They are made from atoms, which are themselves made from nucleus and electrons. These building blocks carry an electrical charge: nuclei are positively charged, and electrons are negatively charged. The nuclei themselves are made up of (positively charged) protons and (neutral) neutrons.
There is a fine balance between the attractive force holding the electrons close to the nucleus, and the repulsive force, which tends to keep electrons away from each other. The result of this competition between attractive and repulsive charge-charge interactions is what explains the detailed structure of atoms. The electrons in atoms tend to form into concentric shells.
Octet rule: atoms have a strong tendency to lose, gain, or share electrons if this leads to them having a complete shell of electrons around them. In other words, atoms prefer to have a total of 2, 10, or 18 electrons around them.
Ionic bonds form between elements, which readily lose electrons and others that readily gain electrons. Because the interaction between charges as given by Coulomb's law is the same in all directions, ionic compounds do not form molecules. Instead, periodic lattices with billions of ions form, in which each ion is surrounded by many ions of opposite charge. Therefore, ionic compounds are almost always solids at room temperature. By careful consideration of the properties of each ion, it is possible to design ionic solids with certain well-defined and desirable properties, like superconductors.
Elements in the first few columns of the periodic table have a few more electrons than predicted by the octet rule: they therefore lose the electrons in the outermost shells fairly easily. For example, the alkali metals (group I), such as sodium (Na) or potassium (K), which have, respectively, 11 and 19 electrons, easily lose one electron to form mono-positive ions, Na+ and K+.
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