Chemical Symbols


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Chemical Symbols

 

the abbreviated designation, by letters, of the chemical elements.

Modern chemical symbols (see Table 1.) consist of the first

Table 1. Symbols, names, atomic numbers, and atomic weights of chemical elements
SymbolLatin nameEnglish nameAtomic numberAtomic weight
1 The not generally adopted symbols and names of the elements with atomic numbers 102 and 103 are given in parentheses 2 Atomic weights are given according to the carbon scale (the atomic weight of the carbon isotope 12 C is exactly 12), corresponding to the 1971 International Table; the mass numbers of the longest-lived isotopes of radioactive elements are given in brackets
AcActiniumActinium89[227]
AgArgentumSilver47107.8680
AlAluminiumAluminum1326.98154
AmAmericiumAmericium95[243]
ArArgonumArgon1839.948
AsArsenicumArsenic3374.9216
AtAstatiumAstatine85[210]
AuAurumGold79196.9665
BBorumBoron510.810
BaBaryumBarium56137.34
BeBerylliumBeryllium49.01218
BiBismuthumBismuth83208.9804
BkBerkeliumBerkelium97[247]
BrBromumBromine3579.904
CCarboneumCarbon612.011
CaCalciumCalcium2040.08
CdCadmiumCadmium48112.40
CeCeriumCerium58140.12
CfCaliforniumCalifornium98[251]
ClChlorumChlorine1735.453
CmCuriumCurium96[247]
CoCobaltumCobalt2758.9332
CrChromiumChromium2451.996
CsCaesiumCesium55132.9054
CuCuprumCopper2963.546
DyDysprosiumDysprosium66162.50
ErErbiumErbium68167.26
EsEsteiniumEinsteinium99[254]
EuEuropiumEuropium63151.96
FFluorumFluorine918.99840
FeFerrumIron2655.847
FmFermiumFermium100[257]
FrFranciumFrancium87[223]
GaGalliumGallium3169.72
GdGadoliniumGadolinium64157.25
GeGermaniumGermanium3272.59
HHydrogeniumHydrogen11.0079
HeHeliumHelium24.00260
HfHafniumHafnium72178.49
HgHydrargyrumMercury80200.59
HoHolmiumHolmium67164.9304
1lodumIodine53126.9045
I nIndiumIndium49114.82
r IIridiumIridium77192.22
KKaliumPotassium1939.098
KrKryptonumKrypton3683.80
KuKurtschatoviumKurchatovium104[261]
LaLanthanumLanthanum57138.9055
LiLithiumLithium36.941
(Lr)(Lawrencium)(Lawrencium)103[256]
LuLutetiumLutetium71174.97
MdMendeleviumMendelevium101[258]
MgMagnesiomMagnesium1224.305
MnManganumManganese2554.9380
MoMolybdaenumMolybdenum4295.94
NNitrogeniumNitrogen714.0067
NaNatriumSodium1122.98977
NbNiobiumNiobium4192.9064
NdNeodymiumNeodymium60144.24
NeNeonumNeon1020.179
NiNiccolumNickel2858.71
(No)(Nobelium)(Nobelium)102[255]
NpNeptuniumNeptunium93237.0482
0OxygeniumOxygen815.9994
OsOsmiumOsmium76190.2
PPhosphorusPhosphorus1530.97376
PaProtactiniumProtactinium91231.0359
PbPlumbumLead82207.2
PdPalladiumPalladium46106.4
PmPromethiumPromethium61[145]
PoPoloniumPolonium84[209]
PrPraseodymiumPraseodymium59140.9077
PtPlatinumPlatinum78195.09
PuPlutoniumPlutonium94[244]
RaRadiumRadium88226.0254
RbRubidiumRubidium3785.4678
ReRheniumRhenium75186.2
RhRhodiumRhodium45102.9055
RnRadonumRadon86[222]
RuRutheniumRuthenium44101.07
SSulphurSulfur1632.06
SbStibiumAntimony51121.75
ScScandiumScandium2144.9559
SeSeleniumSelenium3478.96
SiSiliciumSilicon1428.086
SmSamariumSamarium62150.4
SnStannumTin50188.69
SrStrontiumStrontium3887.62
TaTantalumTantalum73180.949
TbTerbiumTerbium65158.9254
TcTechnetiumTechnetium4398.9062
TeTelluriumTellurium52127.60
ThThoriumThorium90232.0381
TiTitaniumTitanium2247.90
TlThalliumThallium81204.37
TmThuliumThulium69168.9342
UUraniumUranium92238.029
VVanadiumVanadium2350.94
WWolframiumTungsten74183.85
XeXenonumXenon54131.30
YYttriumYttrium3988.9059
YbYtterbiumYtterbium70173.04
ZnZincumZinc3065.38
ZrZirconiumZirconium4091.22

letter or the first and one of the subsequent letters of the Latin name of the elements. In chemical formulas and chemical equations each chemical symbol expresses the relative weight (the atomic weight) in addition to the name of the element. The mass number is written at the upper left (sometimes upper right) of the chemical symbol to denote isobars and isotopes. The atomic number is written at the lower left. To denote the ion rather than the neutral atom, the ionic charge is written at the upper right. The number of atoms in a molecule of a given element is indicated at the lower right. For example, Chemical Symbols is a single-charged ion of a chlorine isotope (atomic number, 17; mass number, 35); Chemical Symbols is the diatomic molecule of the same isotope. The isobars of argon and calcium are denoted by Chemical Symbols and Chemical Symbols, respectively. The chemical symbols given in the table are international, but in some countries, symbols derived from the local names of the elements are used as well. For example, in France, instead of N for nitrogen, Be for beryllium, and W for tungsten, Az (azote), Gl (glucinium), and Tu (tungstene), respectively, have been adopted. In the United States, Cb (columbium) is often used in place of the symbol for niobium, Nb. The names and symbols for the elements with atomic numbers 102 and 103 (nobelium and lawrencium) have not yet been generally adopted.

Chemists of the ancient world and the Middle Ages used symbolic representations, letter abbreviations, and combinations of both (see Figure 1) to designate substances, chemical

Figure 1. Several chemical symbols of the 18th century (from J. C. P. Ehrchsleben, Nachal’nye osnovaniia khimii; translated from German to [Old] Russian by N. Sokolov, St. Petersburg, 1788, pp. 16–17). The sign for copper should be inverted (misprint in the original).

operations, and instruments. Seven metals of antiquity were represented by the astronomical signs of the seven celestial bodies: sun (gold), moon (silver), Jupiter (tin), Venus (copper), Saturn (lead), Mercury (mercury), and Mars (iron). Metals discovered between the 15th and the 18th century— bismuth, zinc, and cobalt—were designated by the first letters of their names. The symbol for ethyl alcohol (Latin, spiritus vini) consisted of the letters S and ∇. The symbols for nitric acid (Latin, aquafortis) and aqua regia (Latin, aqua regia’, a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids) consisted of the symbol for water V and capitals F and R, respectively. The symbol for glass (Latin, vitrum) was formed of two V’s, one inverted.

Attempts to systematize the old chemical symbols continued to the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century the English chemist J. Dalton proposed that atoms of the chemical elements be designated by circles containing dots, dashes, the initial letters of the English names of metals, and so on. Dalton’s chemical symbols gained some acceptance in Great Britain and Western Europe, but they were soon displaced by the purely letter symbols proposed by the Swedish chemist J. J. Berzelius in 1814. The principles he advanced for formulating chemical symbols remain in effect to the present day. The first published report in Russia on Berzelius’ chemical symbols was made in 1824 by Moscow physician I. la. Zatsepin.

REFERENCES

Lomonosov, M. V. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1951. Pages 706–09.
Giua, M. Istoriia khimii. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from Italian.)
Crosland, M. P. Historical Studies in the Language of Chemistry. London, 1962.

S. A. POGODIN

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