Chemistry - Ionic Bonding (AQA Syllabus A)

By the time students reach GCSE level in Science they should have a good grasp of the fundamental ideas in chemistry. This is the third of six quizzes on those ideas and it looks specifically at ionic bonding of atoms via the transfer of electrons.

The Greeks first came up with the idea of the atom as being the smallest possible piece of matter. We now know that atoms are made from even smaller particles, arranged as a small central nucleus made from protons and neutrons surrounded by even smaller particles called electrons. The theory of atoms was not really taken seriously until the nineteenth century when a scientist called John Dalton was alive. Dalton suggested that each element is made of atoms of just one particular sort. He realised that the atoms of any element are different from the atoms of any other element. So in other words, iron contains a different type of atoms from those of oxygen, and the atoms in carbon are different from those of hydrogen. He also correctly recognised that compounds are made from different types of atom joined together.

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Dalton worked out that during chemical reactions, the atoms in the chemicals at the start were simply rearranged to form the products. The original atoms are still there but joined up differently - but he was never able to explain how they did this. Dalton's theories took a long time to be accepted by other scientists since it was not possible to do the experiments needed to support his theories - atoms are too small to see.

Eventually, as scientists discovered more and more about the structure of atoms, they began to understand how they join together. It is all to do with the electrons which either transfer or are shared between atoms. When non-metals react together, they share electrons to form covalent bonds, but when a metal reacts with a non-metal, electrons transfer from one atom to another and this is called ionic bonding. In ionic bonding, metals always lose electrons forming positive ions whilst non-metals always gain them to form negative ions. The opposite charges attract and it is that attraction that is the ionic bond.

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  1. Magnesium is in group II of the periodic table. How many electrons would it transfer when it reacts with oxygen and what would the charge be on its ion?
    You get the number of electrons in the outer shell from the group number. For each electron lost, the metal ends up with one positive charge. So here, two electrons lost mean that the magnesium ion must end up with two positive charges
  2. What is the ionic bond between sodium and chlorine?
    When the sodium atom loses an electron it has more protons than electrons. This means it has a small positive charge overall. The opposite happens with the chlorine and the two charges attract each other
  3. Which of the following reactions does not involve ionic bonding?
    Sulfur and oxygen are non-metals therefore covalent bonding takes place
  4. Potassium is in the same group of the periodic table as sodium but lower down the group. This means what?
    All metals, not just those in group I of the periodic table, will form ionic compounds with non-metals
  5. When sodium and chlorine react what happens to their electrons?
    In ionic bonding, the electrons are always transferred from metal to non-metal
  6. Why is sodium a reactive metal?
    Having just 1 electron in its outer energy level is not as stable as having a full one. If it loses the electron, all of the remaining energy levels are full and it is much more stable
  7. Which sub-atomic particles are involved in chemical bonding?
    Chemicals join together by transferring or sharing electrons. Their nuclei remain unchanged
  8. When metals bond with non-metals what happens to their electrons?
    This means that they form positive ions
  9. Which of the following statements is not correct about chlorine?
    Chlorine is in group VII of the periodic table and therefore has seven electrons in its outer energy level
  10. 46g of sodium react with how much oxygen to produce 110g of sodium oxide?
    Don't be put off by the fact that this is a calculation - remember the Law of Conservation of Mass. You know there is 110g of product so there must have been 110g of reactants to begin with. You know the mass of sodium so the difference must be the mass of oxygen needed

Author: Kev Woodward

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