Isotopes of Hydrogen

Hydrogen can be said to be the simplest element in existence. The first element of our periodic table, hydrogen has one electron and one proton. The interesting part is that it does not have any neutrons inside its nucleus! This in turn also makes it the lightest element is known to us.

The discovery of hydrogen was done by Henry Cavendish in 1766. He discovered the inflammable air which was a product of reacting iron with sulphuric acid. The name Hydrogen comes from the Greek word “Hydro” meaning provider since hydrogen produces water on combustion.

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Isotopes of Carbon

Carbon has two stable, naturally occurring isotopes: carbon-12 and carbon-13. Carbon-12 makes 98.93% and carbon-13 forms the remaining 1.07%. The concentration of 12C is further increased in biological materials because biochemical reactions discriminate against 13C. Identification of carbon in NMR experiments is done with the isotope 13C. 14C is a radioactive isotope of carbon with a half-life of 5730 years. It has a very low natural abundance (0.0000000001%), and decays to 14N through beta decay. It is used in radiometric dating to determine the age of carbonaceous samples (of physical or biological origin) up to about 60,000 years old.

In total, there are 15 known isotopes of carbon and the shortest-lived of these is 8C, which decays through proton emission and alpha decay, and has a half-life of 1.98739 x 10−21 seconds. The exotic 19C exhibits a nuclear halo, which means its radius is appreciably larger than would be expected if the nucleus were a sphere of constant density.

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The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table of the Elements. Each Roman numeraled column on the label (at least the ones ending in A) tells us how many electrons are in the outer shell of the atom. Each numbered row on the table tells us how many electron shells an atom has. Thus, Hydrogen, in column IA, row 1 has one electron in one shell. Phosphorous in column VA, row 3 has 5 electrons in its outer shell, and has three shells in total.

Electrons, because they move so fast (approximately at the speed of light), seem to straddle the fence separating energy from matter. Albert Einstein developed his famous E=mc2 equation relating matter and energy over a century ago. Because of his (and others) work, we think of electrons both as particles of matter (having mass is a property of matter) and as units (or quanta) of energy. When subjected to energy, electrons will acquire some of that energy, as shown in below Figure.

Excitation of an electron by energy, causing the electron to "jump" to another electron (energy) level known as the excited state.

Periodic Table

Excitation of Electrons

Excitation of an Electron

Chemical Bonding

During the nineteenth century, chemists arranged the then-known elements according to chemical bonding, recognizing that one group (the furthermost right column on the Periodic Table, referred to as the Inert Gases or Noble Gases) tended to occur in elemental form (in other words, not in a molecule with other elements). It was later determined that this group had outer electron shells containing two (as in the case of Helium) or eight (Neon, Xenon, Radon, Krypton, etc.) electrons.

As a general rule, for the atoms we are likely to encounter in biological systems, atoms tend to gain or lose their outer electrons to achieve a Noble Gas outer electron shell configuration of two or eight electrons. The number of electrons that are gained or lost is characteristic for each element, and ultimately determines the number and types of chemical bonds atoms of that element can form.

Valence Electron

During the nineteenth century, chemists arranged the then-known elements according to chemical bonding, recognizing that one group (the furthermost right column on the Periodic Table, referred to as the Inert Gases or Noble Gases) tended to occur in elemental form (in other words, not in a molecule with other elements). It was later determined that this group had outer electron shells containing two (as in the case of Helium) or eight (Neon, Xenon, Radon, Krypton, etc.) electrons.

As a general rule, for the atoms we are likely to encounter in biological systems, atoms tend to gain or lose their outer electrons to achieve a Noble Gas outer electron shell configuration of two or eight electrons. The number of electrons that are gained or lost is characteristic for each element, and ultimately determines the number and types of chemical bonds atoms of that element can form.

Geometry of Orbitals

Ionic bonds are formed when atoms become ions by gaining or losing electrons. Chlorine is in a group of elements having seven electrons in their outer shells (see Figure 6). Members of this group tend to gain one electron, acquiring a charge of -1. Sodium is in another group with elements having one electron in their outer shells. Members of this group tend to lose that outer electron, acquiring a charge of +1. Oppositely charged ions are attracted to each other, thus Cl- (the symbolic representation of the chloride ion) and Na+ (the symbol for the sodium ion, using the Greek word natrium) form an ionic bond, becoming the molecule sodium chloride, shown in Figure 7. Ionic bonds generally form between elements in Group I (having one electron in their outer shell) and Group VIIa (having seven electrons in their outer shell). Such bonds are relatively weak, and tend to disassociate in water, producing solutions that have both Na and Cl ions.

Formation of Covalent Bond

Molecules are compounds in which the elements are in definite, fixed ratios, as seen in Figure 12. Those atoms are held together usually by one of the three types of chemical bonds discussed above. For example: water, glucose, ATP. Mixtures are compounds with variable formulas/ratios of their components. For example: soil. Molecular formulas are an expression in the simplest whole-number terms of the composition of a substance. For example, the sugar glucose has 6 Carbons, 12 hydrogens, and 6 oxygens per repeating structural unit. The formula is written C6H12O6.

Chemical reactions occur in nature, and some also can be performed in a laboratory setting.

Chemical Reactions and Molecules

Covalent bonds form when atoms share electrons. Since electrons move very fast they can be shared, effectively filling or emptying the outer shells of the atoms involved in the bond. Such bonds are referred to as electron-sharing bonds. An analogy can be made to child custody: the children are like electrons, and tend to spend some time with one parent and the rest of their time with the other parent. In a covalent bond, the electron clouds surrounding the atomic nuclei overlap, as shown in Figure

Formation of a covalent bond between two Hydrogen atoims.