Solids
Solids
As we mentioned above, the molecules that make up solids are generally held together by ionic or strong covalent bonding, and the attractive forces between the atoms, ions, or molecules in solids are very strong. In fact, these forces are so strong that particles in a solid are held in fixed positions and have very little freedom of movement. Solids have definite shapes and definite volumes and are not compressible to any extent. There are a few types of solids that you should be familiar with for the SAT II Chemistry test, and we’ve listed them below. However, we will start by saying that there are two main categories of solids—crystalline solids and amorphous solids. Crystalline solids are those in which the atoms, ions, or molecules that make up the solid exist in a regular, well-defined arrangement. The smallest repeating pattern of crystalline solids is known as the unit cell, and unit cells are like bricks in a wall—they are all identical and repeating. The other main type of solids are called the amorphous solids. Amorphous solids do not have much order in their structures. Though their molecules are close together and have little freedom to move, they are not arranged in a regular order as are those in crystalline solids. Common examples of this type of solid are glass and plastics.
There are four types of crystalline solids, all of which you should be familiar with for the exam.
Ionic solids—Made up of positive and negative ions and held together by electrostatic attractions. They’re characterized by very high melting points and brittleness and are poor conductors in the solid state. An example of an ionic solid is table salt, NaCl.
Molecular solids—Made up of atoms or molecules held together by London dispersion forces, dipole-dipole forces, or hydrogen bonds. Characterized by low melting points and flexibility and are poor conductors. An example of a molecular solid is sucrose.
Covalent-network (also called atomic) solids—Made up of atoms connected by covalent bonds; the intermolecular forces are covalent bonds as well. Characterized as being very hard with very high melting points and being poor conductors. Examples of this type of solid are diamond and graphite, and the fullerenes. As you can see below, graphite has only 2-D hexagonal structure and therefore is not hard like diamond. The sheets of graphite are held together by only weak London forces!
Metallic solids—Made up of metal atoms that are held together by metallic bonds. Characterized by high melting points, can range from soft and malleable to very hard, and are good conductors of electricity.
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