A chemical element is defined as a set of atoms that have the same number of protons inside their nucleus, that is, atoms with the same atomic number (a characteristic represented by the letter Z). Chemical elements can also be called simple substances.
Characteristics Chemical Elements
A very important fact about the definition given to a chemical element is that, in some cases, it can undergo decomposition, that is, it cannot give rise to new simple substances, it only participates in the formation of new compound substances.
An example is sodium chloride, which, being a compound substance, can be decomposed into the simple substance sodium (Na) and the simple substance chlorine (Cl 2 ) through igneous electrolysis . This fact cannot occur with Neon (Ne) gas, for example, which is a chemical element and therefore a simple substance.
It is important to note that an isolated atom also represents a chemical element. In the formula for water (H 2 O), for example, we have two atoms representing the element hydrogen and one atom representing the element oxygen.
Chemical elements are represented by an acronym, in which the initial letter is capital and which may be accompanied by one or two lowercase letters. In this acronym, we must locate the atomic number on the lower left side, represented as follows:
The acronym of the name of the element can refer to various aspects, such as the name of the element in Latin, the name of the element in another language, the name of the discoverer, tribute to a scientist, place of discovery, etc.
Examples Chemical Elements
- Beryllium: acronym Be, which comes from the Greek Beryllos.
- Boro: acronym B, which comes from its name in Arabic (buraq) and Persian (burah).
- Cobalt: acronym Co, which comes from the German kobalt or kobold (evil spirit or demon of the mines). It received this name due to its toxicity.
- Sodium: acronym Na, which comes from the Latin Natrium.
- Strontium: acronym Sr, in homage to a Scottish town called Strotian.
- Lithium: acronym Li, which comes from the Greek Lithos (stone).
- Magnesium: acronym Mg, called Magnesia in Greek in reference to the region of Thessalia.
- Roentgenium: acronym Rg, a tribute to the scientist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, who discovered the X-ray.
- Californio: acronym Cf, name in homage to the University of California, where it was synthesized.
There are several chemical elements currently known. These are organized in increasing order of atomic number in the famous Periodic Table, proposed by Moseley in 1913.
Regardless of whether they are natural or synthetic, many of the chemical elements are very important, since they are part of the composition of thousands of chemical substances that are present in the life and daily life of human beings.