language-icon Old Web
English
Sign In

Diatomic molecule

Diatomic molecules are molecules composed of only two atoms, of the same or different chemical elements. The prefix di- is of Greek origin, meaning 'two'. If a diatomic molecule consists of two atoms of the same element, such as hydrogen (H2) or oxygen (O2), then it is said to be homonuclear. Otherwise, if a diatomic molecule consists of two different atoms, such as carbon monoxide (CO) or nitric oxide (NO), the molecule is said to be heteronuclear. The only chemical elements that form stable homonuclear diatomic molecules at standard temperature and pressure (STP) (or typical laboratory conditions of 1 bar and 25 °C) are the gases hydrogen (H2), nitrogen (N2), oxygen (O2), fluorine (F2), and chlorine (Cl2). The noble gases (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon) are also gases at STP, but they are monatomic. The homonuclear diatomic gases and noble gases together are called 'elemental gases' or 'molecular gases', to distinguish them from other gases that are chemical compounds. At slightly elevated temperatures, the halogens bromine (Br2) and iodine (I2) also form diatomic gases. All halogens have been observed as diatomic molecules, except for astatine, which is uncertain. The mnemonics BrINClHOF, pronounced 'Brinklehof', and HONClBrIF, pronounced 'Honkelbrif', and HOFBrINCl (pronounced as Hofbrinkle) have been coined to aid recall of the list of diatomic elements. Other elements form diatomic molecules when evaporated, but these diatomic species repolymerize when cooled. Heating ('cracking') elemental phosphorus gives diphosphorus, P2. Sulfur vapor is mostly disulfur (S2). Dilithium (Li2) is known in the gas phase. Ditungsten (W2) and dimolybdenum (Mo2) form with sextuple bonds in the gas phase. The bond in a homonuclear diatomic molecule is non-polar. Dirubidium (Rb2) is diatomic. All other diatomic molecules are chemical compounds of two different elements. Many elements can combine to form heteronuclear diatomic molecules, depending on temperature and pressure. Some examples include, gases carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), and hydrogen chloride (HCl).

[ "Molecule", "Periodic systems of small molecules", "Diatomic carbon", "NDDO", "Nitrogen monofluoride", "Rydberg–Klein–Rees method" ]
Parent Topic
Child Topic
    No Parent Topic