Chapter 2. The Chemistry of Living Matter
Matter is made up of
, substances that cannot be broken down by ordinary chemicalmeans into simpler particles. Each element is a collection of a particular kind of discrete particlematter called the atom. An
is the smallest unit of an element that retains the chemical properties of that element.
Atoms are made up of even smaller, subatomic particles: the
, and the
. Protons have positive charges, electrons are negatively charged, andneutrons are neutral.Each element has a different number of protons. The
is a count of the number of protons in the elemental atom. Oxygen, for example, has 8 protons therefore its atomic number is8. Carbon has 6. Hydrogen has 1. Nitrogen has 7.Generally, atoms have approximately the same number of protons, neutrons, and electrons.Each proton or neutron has a mass of about 1.7x10
gram. For convenience, this mass is defined as1 atomic mass or 1 Dalton. The mass of an electron is about 1/2000 that of a proton, so it is oftendisregarded when considering atomic mass. The protons and neutrons form the nucleus whileelectrons travel at the speed of light orbiting the nucleus. The
of an element is thenumber of protons plus neutrons in each nucleus.
Atoms with the same number of protons but different number of neutrons are called
. Two isotopes of ordinary hydrogen (1 proton, 0 neutrons) are
(1 proton, 1neutron) and
(1 proton, 2 neutrons). Isotopes share the same atomic number but differ inatomic mass, the sum of the atom’s protons and neutrons. Thus, all hydrogen isotopes have theatomic number 1, but atomic masses of 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Isotopes with their extra neutronsare often unstable and undergo radioactive decay at typical and predictable rates, giving off subatomic nuclear particles until they reach stability. Tritium, with a half-life of 12.5 years, is veryuseful in biological research as a radioactive tag that allows hydrogen-containing compounds to betraced through metabolic pathways.
Atoms with the same number of protons but different number of electrons form
. NaCl (sodium chloride, table salt) when in water, dissolves and separates into its constituent ions, Na
. The Na ion is positively charged because one of its electrons has been “kidnapped” bythe Cl ion. Na
then, has 11 protons, 11 neutrons, and only 10 electrons. Cl
on the other hand, has17 protons, 17 neutrons, but 18 electrons, making it negatively charged. Positively charged ions arecalled
and negatively charged ions are called
Following the octet rule, the innermost shell, or the lowest quantum level,for any atom never contains more than two electrons. Each shell external to this innermost shellmay contain up to eight electrons. The number of electrons in the outermost shell determines thecombining power (
) of an atom. If the outermost shell contains eight electrons, (or in thecase of He, 2 electrons in the outermost shell) the atom will be unable to bond with any other atomand the element is said to be inert.Atoms with less than eight electrons in the outermost shell form bonds with other atoms tosaturate this shell. There are three major kinds of chemical bonds: covalent bonds, ionic bonds, andhydrogen bonds.
involve the sharing of electrons. Two atoms, each lacking anelectron in their outermost shells, will fill up the vacancies by sharing a pair of electrons.
involve the transfer of electrons from one atom to another so the atom either loses or gainselectrons.
form relatively weaker bonds between polar molecules or polarized