compound(redirected from compounds)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms.
Related to compounds: Organic compounds, Chemical compounds
compound,in chemistry, a substance composed of atomsatom
[Gr.,=uncuttable (indivisible)], basic unit of matter; more properly, the smallest unit of a chemical element having the properties of that element. Structure of the Atom
..... Click the link for more information. of two or more elementselement,
in chemistry, a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by chemical means. A substance such as a compound can be decomposed into its constituent elements by means of a chemical reaction, but no further simplification can be achieved.
..... Click the link for more information. in chemical combination, occurring in a fixed, definite proportion and arranged in a fixed, definite structure. A compound is often represented by its chemical formulaformula,
in chemistry, an expression showing the chemical composition of a compound. Formulas of compounds are used in writing the equations (see chemical equations) that represent chemical reactions. Compounds are combinations in fixed proportions of the chemical elements.
..... Click the link for more information. . The formula for water is H2O, and for sodium chloride, NaCl. The formula weightformula weight,
in chemistry, a quantity computed by multiplying the atomic weight (in atomic mass units) of each element in a formula by the number of atoms of that element present in the formula, and then adding all of these products together.
..... Click the link for more information. of a compound can be determined from its formula. The molecular weightmolecular weight,
weight of a molecule of a substance expressed in atomic mass units (amu). The molecular weight may be calculated from the molecular formula of the substance; it is the sum of the atomic weights of the atoms making up the molecule.
..... Click the link for more information. of a molecular compound can be determined from its molecular formula. Two or more distinct compounds that have the same molecular formula but different properties are called isomersisomer
, in chemistry, one of two or more compounds having the same molecular formula but different structures (arrangements of atoms in the molecule). Isomerism is the occurrence of such compounds. Isomerism was first recognized by J. J. Berzelius in 1827.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Formation and Decomposition of Compounds
Compounds are formed from simpler substances by chemical reactionchemical reaction,
process by which one or more substances may be transformed into one or more new substances. Energy is released or is absorbed, but no loss in total molecular weight occurs.
..... Click the link for more information. . Some compounds can be formed directly from their constituent elements, e.g., water from hydrogen and oxygen: 2H2 + O2 → 2H2O. Other compounds are formed by reaction of an element with another compound; e.g., sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is formed (and hydrogen gas released) by the reaction of sodium metal with water: 2Na + 2H2O → 2NaOH + H2↑. Compounds are also made by reaction of other compounds; e.g., sodium hydroxide reacts with hydrogen chloride (HCl) to form sodium chloride and water: HCl + NaOH → NaCl + H2O. Complex molecules such as proteins are formed by a series of reactions involving elements and simple compounds.
Compounds can be decomposed by chemical means into elements or simpler compounds. Water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. Candle wax, a mixture of hydrocarbons, is changed in the candle flame by combustion (with oxygen) to a mixture of the simpler compounds carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. Life is based on numerous reactions in which energy is stored and released as compounds are produced and decomposed.
Properties of Compounds
A compound has unique properties that are distinct from the properties of its elemental constituents. One familiar chemical compound is water, a liquid that is nonflammable and does not support combustion. It is composed of two elements: hydrogen, an extremely flammable gas, and oxygen, a gas that supports combustion. A compound differs from a mixture in that the components of a mixture retain their own properties and may be present in many different proportions. The components of a mixture are not chemically combined; they can be separated by physical means. A mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gases is still a gas and can be separated by physical methods. If the mixture is ignited, however, the two gases undergo a rapid chemical combination to form water. Although the hydrogen and oxygen can occur in any proportion in a mixture of gases, they are always combined in the exact proportion of two atoms of hydrogen to one atom of oxygen when combined in the compound water. Another familiar compound is sodium chloride (common salt). It is composed of the silvery metal sodium and the greenish poisonous gas chlorine combined in the proportion of one atom of sodium to one atom of chlorine.
Molecular and Ionic Compounds
Water is a molecular compound; it is made up of electrically neutral moleculesmolecule
[New Lat.,=little mass], smallest particle of a compound that has all the chemical properties of that compound. A single atom is usually not referred to as a molecule, and ionic compounds such as common salt are not made up of molecules.
..... Click the link for more information. , each containing a fixed number of atoms. Sodium chloride is an ionic compound; it is made up of electrically charged ionsion,
atom or group of atoms having a net electric charge. Positive and Negative Electric Charges
A neutral atom or group of atoms becomes an ion by gaining or losing one or more electrons or protons.
..... Click the link for more information. that are present in fixed proportions and are arranged in a regular, geometric pattern (called crystalline structure) but are not grouped into molecules. The atoms in a compound are held together by chemical bonding (see chemical bondchemical bond,
mechanism whereby atoms combine to form molecules. There is a chemical bond between two atoms or groups of atoms when the forces acting between them are strong enough to lead to the formation of an aggregate with sufficient stability to be regarded as an
..... Click the link for more information. ).