Chemistry » Liquids and Solids » The Solid State of Matter

Ionic Solids

Ionic Solids

Ionic solids, such as sodium chloride and nickel oxide, are composed of positive and negative ions that are held together by electrostatic attractions, which can be quite strong (see the figure below). Many ionic crystals also have high melting points. This is due to the very strong attractions between the ions—in ionic compounds, the attractions between full charges are (much) larger than those between the partial charges in polar molecular compounds.

This will be looked at in more detail in a later discussion of lattice energies. Although they are hard, they also tend to be brittle, and they shatter rather than bend. Ionic solids do not conduct electricity; however, they do conduct when molten or dissolved because their ions are free to move. Many simple compounds formed by the reaction of a metallic element with a nonmetallic element are ionic.

This figure shows large purple spheres bonded to smaller green spheres in an alternating pattern. The spheres are arranged in a cube.

Sodium chloride is an ionic solid.

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