Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry III, Chemistry tutorial

What is Inorganic Chemistry?

Define: Inorganic chemistry is basically the study of the formation, synthesis and properties of compounds which don't have carbon-hydrogen bonds. The chemical substances having carbon-hydrogen bonds are studied in the organic chemistry.

Inorganic chemistry is a stream of chemistry which mainly deals by the properties and behavior of inorganic compounds. The inorganic compounds are usually those which are not biological and characterized by not having any hydrogen and carbon bonds. It is almost simpler to discuss this field in terms of what it is not - organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is basically the study of any chemical reaction which comprises carbon, which is the element that all life is dependent on.

The word 'organic' has traditionally referred just to plant or animal matter, thus there is a general misconception that organic chemistry for all time refers to life processes, or that inorganic chemistry applies to the whole thing which doesn't. This supposition is incorrect. Most of the chemical processes veer away from this line of thinking, and there are numerous chemical life processes which based on inorganic chemical processes.

There are exceptions to each and every rule. However carbon is the key common element in the organic chemistry, inorganic chemical compounds can have carbon, too. For illustration - carbon monoxide and carbon-dioxide both have carbon, however are inorganic compounds. Carbon dioxide, in particular, is as well very significant to chemical processes essential for life, in particular plant life. The truth is that the lines between inorganic and organic chemistry are frequently blurred.

There are numerous branches of inorganic chemistry available for the specialization. Geochemistry is the study of chemicals of the Earth and other planets, and it covers the chemical compositions of rocks and soil. In the field of geochemistry, there are some subfields, comprising isotope geochemistry, cosmochemistry and biogeochemistry.

The other branch is physical chemistry that relates to the theory of physics in chemical systems. This field is as well at times termed as physicochemistry. It employs the principles of thermodynamics, quantum chemistry and kinetics as its basis.

On the other hand, bioinorganic chemistry is the study of compounds having metal-carbon bonds in biological systems. This is a specifically interesting branch as it as well incorporates features of organic chemistry into it. Bioinorganic chemistry concentrates on the pretense of metal ions in the biochemical procedures.

Inorganic chemistry lends itself to numerous different industries, comprising education, environmental science and government agencies. A scientist who concentrates on this field might make or enhance formulas for household cleansers. He might as well work in the chemical research, coming up with the latest ways to use the properties of metallic elements into valuable functions.

There are approximately 100,000 known inorganic compounds, whereas there are around 2 million known organic compounds. Illustrations of inorganic compounds comprise:

A) Sodium chloride (NaCl): Employed as table salt.

B) Silicon dioxide (SiO2): Employed in the computer chips and solar cells.

C) Sapphire (Al2O3): a famous gemstone.

D) Sulphuric acid (H2SO4): a chemical broadly employed in the production of fertilizers and some household products like drain cleaners.

Categorization of Inorganic Compounds:


Acids are the compounds which produce H+ ions whenever dissolved in water. Illustrations of acids comprise sulphuric acid (H2SO4), hydrochloric acid (HCl), hydrofluoric acid (HF), ascetic acid or vinegar (HC2H3O2) and citric acid (C6H8O7). Most of the acids can be dissolved in water and are corrosive and those which can be ingested encompass a sour taste. In water, HCl is decomposed in H+ and Cl-

HCl → (H+) + (Cl-)


Bases are the compounds which produce OH- (hydroxyl ions) whenever dissolved in water. They are generally found in household products. Some of the common bases are ammonia (NH3), potassium hydroxide (KOH), calcium hydroxide or caustic lime (Ca2OH) and sodium hydroxide or caustic soda (NaOH). In water, the KOH dissociates in K+ and OH-:

KOH → (K+) + (OH-)


Salts are the compounds which yield from the reaction between the acid and a base. They are ionic compounds made up by two oppositely charged ions (atoms which are not electrically neutral as they have lost or gained one or more electrons). For illustration, table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) is made up by the bonding an anion (that is, positively charged ion) and a cation (that is, negatively charged ion): Na+ and Cl-.

Some of the common salts comprise sodium chloride or table salt (NaCl), calcium chloride (CaCl2), magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and potassium chloride (KCl). Most of the salts can be dissolved in water to make a solution of the ions. Ions derived from salts such as Na+, Mg+2 and K+ are vital for the functioning of the human body. In water, CaCl2 is decomposed in the given manner:

CaCl2 → (Ca+2) + (Cl-)


Oxides are the compounds which have at least one oxygen atom combined by the other element. Oxygen is generally in the form of an anion (O2-). Transition metal oxides like titanium (III) oxide (Ti2O3) and iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3) encompass useful magnetic and catalytic properties.

History of Inorganic Chemistry:

The history of inorganic chemistry, specifically before the mid nineteen century, is closely interwoven by the general history of chemical knowledge. The most significant accomplishments of chemistry at the turn of the 19th century - the establishment of oxygen theory of combustion and the atomic theory of chemistry and the discovery of the principal laws of Stoichiometry - resulted from the study of inorganic substances.

Metals which were encountered in the nature as native ores (like gold, silver, copper and mercury) were simply obtained via heating their oxide ores by coal (copper, tin and lead) and also some non-metals (that is, carbon in the form of coal and diamond; sulphur; and possibly arsenic), were identified even in remote antiquity. In the third and second millennia B.C., methods for getting iron from ores and preparing glass objects were acknowledged in Egypt, India and China.

The attempt to transform base, 'imperfect' metals to noble, 'perfect' metals (like gold and silver) was the reason for the appearance of alchemy, which predominated from the fourth to the 16th century A.D. The alchemists formed the frame-work for the chemical operations (like evaporation, crystallization, distillation, filtration and sublimation) which nowadays are employed for the isolation and purification of compounds, and they were the first to get some simple substances (like arsenic, antimony and phosphorus); hydrochloric, sulphuric and nitric acids; and most of the salts (such as sulphates, alum and ammonium chloride). In the 16th century metallurgy, ceramics and glassmaking that border closely on inorganic chemistry, underwent broad development, which might be seen in the works of V. Biringuccio (1540) and G. Agricola (1556). In the year 1530, P. A. Paracelsus, who was aware of the therapeutic properties of preparations of gold, antimony, mercury, lead and zinc, laid the base of iatrochemistry, the application of chemistry to medicine. In the seventeenth century the division of substances studied in the chemistry into mineral, vegetable and animal (noted in the tenth century via the Arab scientist Rhazes) took root - which is, the demarcation of chemistry into inorganic and organic chemistry was initiated.

In the year 1661, R. Boyle refused the theory of the four elements and tria prima of which all the substances were thought to comprise and defined chemical elements as substances which could not be broken down into other substances. In the late 17th century G. Stahl, developing the ideas of J. J. Becher, introduced the hypothesis that, on roasting and combustion, bodies lose the element of combustibility or phlogiston. This assumption predominated till the end of the 18th century.

The work of M. V. Lomonosov and A. Lavoisier later facilitated the establishment of inorganic chemistry as a science. Lomonosov formulated the law of conservation of mass and motion in the year 1748, defined chemistry as the study of changes occurring in complex substances, applied atomistic concepts to describe chemical phenomena, introduce a division of substances into organic and inorganic in the year 1752, and showed that the increase in the weight of metals on roasting occurs via the addition of some part of air in the year 1756.

Lavoisier refused the phlogiston theory, illustrated the role of oxygen in roasting and combustion processes, made concrete the theory of the chemical element, and formed the first rational chemical system of notation in the year 1787. In the early 19th century, J. Dalton proposed the atomic theory into chemistry discovered the law of multiple proportions, and provide the first table of atomic weights of the chemical elements. Gay-Lussac's laws (1805-08), the law of definite proportions (J. Proust, 1808), and Avogadro's law (1811) were as well introduced at that time.

In the first half of the 19th century, J. Berzelius decisively confirmed the atomic theory in chemistry. In the mid-19th century the theories of the atom, molecule and equivalents were formulated and delineated via C. Gerhardt and S. Cannizzaro. At that time more than 60 chemical elements were acknowledged. Discovery in the year 1869 of the periodic law and the construction by D. I. Mendeleev of the periodic system of elements resolved the problem of rational categorization of the elements. On the basis of his discoveries, Mendeleev corrected the atomic weights of numerous elements and predicted the atomic weight and properties of gallium, germanium and scandium, which had not yet been discovered. After the discovery of such elements, the periodic law attained universal acceptance and became the firm scientific base of chemistry.

At the turn of 20th century, inorganic chemists were specifically interested in two little-studied areas, metal alloys and complexes. The study of polished and etched steel surfaces under a microscope, started in the year 1831 by P. P. Anosov, was continued via H. C. Sorby (1863), D. K. Chernov (1868), and the German scientist A. Martens (from 1878). The study was enhanced and substantially expanded via the method of thermal analysis (by H. Le Chatelier and F. Osmond in the year 1887 and by the English scientist W. Roberts-Austen in the year 1899).

Important research on alloys by using latest methods was conducted via N. S. Kurnakov (from 1899) and A. A. Baikov (from 1900) and by their scientific schools. Extensive studies of alloys were conducted in the Germany by G. Tammann (from 1903) and his students. The theoretical base for the study of alloys was given by the phase rule of J. W. Gibbs.

Systematic studies of complexes undertaken in the year 1860 by C. Blomstrand and the Danish scientist S. Jorgensen were extended in the year 1890 by A. Werner, who introduced the coordination theory and by N. S. Kurnakov. L. A. Chugaev and his school carried out principally extensive work in this area in Russia and the USSR.

In the late 19th century, a significant event in the history of inorganic chemistry occurs; the inert gases were discovered - argon by J. Rayleigh and W. Ramsay in the year 1894; helium by Ramsay in the year 1895; krypton, neon, and xenon by the English scientists Ramsay and M. Travers in the year 1898; and radon by the German scientist F. Dorn in the year 1900. At Ramsay's proposal, Mendeleev added these elements to his periodic system in a special group (Group 0); they were later made portion of Group VIII. Even more significant was the discovery of the spontaneous radioactivity of uranium by A. Becquerel in the year 1896) and of thorium by M. Sklodowska-Curie and independently by the German scientist G. Schmidt (1898), followed by the discovery of the radioactive elements polonium and radium via M. Sklodowska-Curie and P. Curie (1898). Such findings led to the discovery of the existence of isotopes and to the founding of radiochemistry and the theory of atomic structure (E. Rutherford in the year 1911, and N. Bohr, 1913).

Advances in the nuclear physics made possible the synthesis of the trans-uranium elements, having atomic numbers from 93 to 105. Work on the synthesis of trans-uranium elements opened up a new period in the history of inorganic chemistry. Research in this area is being conducted in the USSR, USA, France and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Inorganic Chemistry Topics identifiable from the Periodic Table:

It comprises the chemistry of the given elements, from left-to-right across the Periodic Table:

Groups I and II of the Periodic Table: These elements are as well termed as the s-block elements.

  • The elements of Group I are termed as Alkali Metals and comprise: Lithium (Li), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Rubidium (Rb), Caesium (Cs), and the rare radioactive element Francium (Fr).
  • The elements of Group II are termed as Alkaline Earth Metals, and comprise: Beryllium (Be), Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), Strontium (Sr), Barium (Ba), and the unusual radioactive element Radium (Ra).

Transition Metals: These elements are as well termed as the d-block elements.

Group III: This comprises the non-metallic element Boron (B), Aluminium (Al), altogether with the Gallium (Ga), Indium (In) and Thallium (Tl).

Group IV: This comprises the relatively general elements: Carbon (C), Silicon (Si), Germanium (Ge), Tin (Sn) and Lead (Pb).

It will be noted that the element carbon is one of the most significant elements in organic chemistry however also forms several compounds categorized within inorganic chemistry, example - carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon-dioxide (CO2).

Group V: This comprises: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Arsenic (As), Antimony (Sb) and Bismuth (Bi).

Group VI: This comprises: Oxygen (O), Sulphur (S), Selenium (Se), Tellurium (Te) and the radioactive element Polonium (Po).

Group VII: These elements are termed as the halogens.

This comprises Fluorine (F), Chlorine (Cl), Bromine (Br), Iodine (I) and the radioactive element Astatine (At).

Group 0: These elements are known as the Noble Gases and, due to their inactivity, as well as 'inert gases'. This comprises Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Argon (Ar), Krypton (Kr), Xenon (Xe) and Radon (Rn).

However the above points out the categories of elements, inorganic chemistry are not just about those elements - however as well regarding how they react and the compounds they form. The inorganic chemistry is a vast subject area which comprises all the chemical reactions and compounds which are not or don't involve organic compounds (that is, substances which encompass carbon-hydrogen bonds).

Advances in inorganic chemistry:

Qualitative changes in the inorganic chemistry were brought about by the discovery of the transuranium elements, by the proficient isolation (via chromatography and extraction) of the rare earths and other elements which are hard to isolate in pure form (for illustration - the platinum group of metals), and via the economical preparation of rare elements and materials composed of them by specific properties or a predetermined set of properties. Advancement in the technology of preparation and use of high-purity elements and compounds should as well be noted. The production from such materials of single crystals by specific properties (for illustration: piezoelectrics, dielectrics, semi-conductors, superconductors, and laser crystals) and as well their use has become a special stream of industry. The chemistry of rare elements is developing in particular rapidly. The study of chemistry of inert gases, which were formerly considered unable of chemical reaction, started in the year 1960. Though, most of the compounds of krypton, xenon and radon with fluorine, and as well oxides of xenon, have been obtained.

A great deal of attention in the modern inorganic chemistry is devoted to the study of the chemical bond, which is the most significant characteristic of any chemical compound. Chemical bonds might be seen by using physical instruments. Crystallographic processes, which are still extremely labor-intensive, are being substituted by fast methods using automatic diffractometers in conjunction by electronic computers. This forms possible rapid determination of interatomic distances and assessment of the electron density in the inorganic compounds, therefore providing a base for more complete representation of molecular structure and calculation of molecular properties. Even more detailed information on chemical binding might be obtained by means of X-ray spectroscopy. The progress of new physical processes and the interpretation of data need the combined work of inorganic chemists, physicists, and mathematicians. Problems of the structure and reactivity of chemical compounds and questions associating to the chemical bonding are being studied with increasing success on the base of the theories and methods of the quantum mechanics.

Inorganic compounds and materials are employed under different operating conditions, under vital action of the medium (like gases and liquids), and under mechanical loads. Therefore, the study of kinetics of inorganic reactions has great importance, particularly in the growth of new technologies and materials.

Practical applications of Inorganic chemistry:

Inorganic chemistry is giving new kinds of fuel for aircraft and space rockets, and as well materials which prevent icing of airplanes and landing strips at airports. It is generating new hard and super hard materials for abrasive and cutting tools: the utilization of compact cubic boron nitride (borazon) in such tools makes possible the working of extremely hard alloys at temperatures and speeds so high that diamond cutters burn. Among the other new products are compositions for fluxes employed in welding; complexes employed in industry, agriculture and medicine; construction materials, comprising lightweight materials (for illustration, phosphate-based or phosphate-containing materials); semiconductor and laser materials; heat-resistant metal alloys; and latest inorganic fertilizers. Inorganic chemistry satisfies the most varied demands of industry. It is developing very fast and is one of the most significant sources of scientific and technological advancement.

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