Structure and properties of oxides of Carbon, Silicone and lead.

Although all group IV elements, with four outter electrons, carbon, silicone and lead, are very different and so are their oxides, in a very general sense carbon, the non metal forms acidic oxides as does silicone the semi metal. Lead the metal however forms amphoteric oxides ( acidic in the higher oxidation states.) As the group is descended there is a transition from covalency to conicity and the increased stability of the +2 oxidation state culminating in lead which displays the most stability of this state in all the group.Oxides of the elements shall be examined in turn with information of their formation and occurance, finishing with a more detailed look at just why lead favours this +2 oxidation stability. An explanation which is a direct consequence of Einstein's popular theory or relativity. Carbon monoxide (fig1) is a linear molecule with a high bond enthalpy (1076KJ) as a result of the π overlap on the 2p orbitals. The intermolecular distance is only 112.8pm. This highly toxic gas is formed by incomplete combustion of carbon and is scentless, and invisible. The strong coordinating properties of carbon are respsonsible for it's poisonous nature, as it can bind to the iron atom of haemoglobin in he blood with a higher affinity than the O2 molecule it replaces, hence reducing the oxygen saturation of the blood. Carbon dioxide is also a colourless and oudorless linear molecule (fig2) it has a bond length of 116.3pm. It can sublime from solid to an air cooling 'mist' called dry ice used in theatres and movies, or as a refridgerant in food industries. CO2 can form a supercritical fluid with propities of a gas and a liquid used to decaffinate coffee and synthesize many other molecules. It has slight solubility in water forming a weak acid. It is produced natrally by respiration and is used in photosynthesis. It is also a contributer in what most people agree is the effect of human actions on rising global temperature, or global warming. In stark contrast to CO2, SiO2 is a hard crystaline solid with no double bonds ( hence no pπ-pπ bonding) called silicates. Silicone coordinates with the oxygen in giant crystaline structures, or silicates. Table 1 shows the main uses of oxides of silicone and Fig 3 shows the tetrahedral coordination of silicate structures, often described as the [SiO4]4- unit. Different arrangements of these tetrahedra give rise to thousands of known silicate structures. Lead, which is below the two elements previously discussed exhibits the stable binalent species, at +2 oxidation number in mononuclear compounds. Lead(II)'s stability is dues to the electronic configuration containing an inert pair of electrons in the 6s subshell, [Xe] 4f145d106s2 due to the forming of the lead(II) ion two 6p electrons are lost. Inside heavier elements such as lead the electrons are drawn closer to the nucleus than one would expect, due to relativistic contraction ( in turn a consequence of the theory of relativity). Since this has a greater affect on S electrons than lead being so hard to remove the +2 oxidation state is far preferable to the +4 typical of the previously mentioned group IV elements.1 As all 3 elements have the outer configuration ns2npx1 npy1 the normal oxidation state is +4

( this allows all outer electrons to be used in bonding). However the inert pair effect within the heavier elements (such as lead) favours the +2 state. Differences in bonding types, eg. covalent and ionic can be attributed to the metal, semimetal and non-metal states of the elements concerned. Finally, Oxygen ( much like fluorine) has a tendency to stabalize higher oxidation numbers.


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