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Basic Chemistry Concepts

Inorganic Chemistry

ununbium, lightest element, element helium, helium atom, smallest particle

Deeper web pages:

>  Important Inorganic Compounds

>  Periodic Law

>  Structure of the Atom

>  Chemical Bonds

>  Chemical Reactions

>  Factors Influencing Reactions

>  Naming Inorganic Compounds

>  Fields of Inorganic Chemistry

Inorganic Chemistry, study of the structure, properties, and reactions of the chemical elements and their compounds. Inorganic chemistry does not include the investigation of hydrocarbonsócompounds composed of carbon and hydrogen that are the parent material of all other organic compounds. The study of organic compounds is called organic chemistry.

Inorganic chemists have made significant advances in understanding the minute particles that compose our world. These particles, called atoms, make up the elements, which are the building blocks of all the compounds and substances in the world around us. Just as the entire English language is constructed from combinations of the 26 letters in the alphabet, all chemical substances are made from combinations of the 112 chemical elements found on the periodic table .

Ninety elements are known to occur in nature, and 22 more have been made artificially. Elementsówhich include substances such as oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfurócannot be broken into more elementary substances by ordinary chemical means. The elements are arranged in the periodic table in rows from the lightest element (hydrogen) to the heaviest (ununbium). These rows are split so that elements with similar chemical properties fall in the same columns.

The smallest representative unit of an element is an atom. (For example, the smallest representative of the element helium (He) is a helium atom.) When atoms that come in close contact have a sufficiently large attractive force, a chemical bond, or binding link, forms between them. The combination of two or more atoms bonded together is called a molecule. A molecule is the smallest particle of a substance possessing the specific chemical properties of that substance. For example, an atom of oxygen (O) combines with two atoms of hydrogen (H) to form a water molecule (H2O). While molecules of H2O possess the properties of water, individual oxygen and hydrogen atoms do not.

Much of chemistry can be described as breaking substances apart and putting chemical components together to form new substances. This process is accomplished by breaking chemical bonds between atoms and creating new bonds, a process known as a chemical reaction.


Kaner, Richard B., A.B., Ph.D.

Professor, Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles.

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