Last modified on 10 July 2014, at 19:46

Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry

Periodic Table of the Elements

Inorganic chemistry is the study of the synthesis, reactions, structures and properties of compounds of the elements. This subject is usually taught after students are introduced to organic chemistry, which concerns the synthesis and reactions of compounds of carbon (typically containing C-H bonds). Inorganic chemistry encompasses the compounds - both molecular and extended solids - of everything else in the periodic table, and overlaps with organic chemistry in the area of organometallic chemistry, in which metals are bonded to carbon-contaning ligands and molecules. Inorganic chemistry is fundamental to many practical technologies including catalysis and materials (structural, electronic, magnetic,...), energy conversion and storage, and electronics. Inorganic compounds are also found in biological systems where they are essential to life processes.


This textbook (in its initial form) is intended for use in a first semester course in inorganic chemistry, covering the basic concepts in structure, bonding, and properties that underlie the field. The objective of this book is for students to understand how to use valence bond theory, crystal field theory, and molecular orbital theory to describe bonding in inorganic compounds, learn periodic trends in redox and acid-base equilibria, and learn the structures of solid elements and simple compounds. Building on this knowledge we will develop a conceptual framework for understanding the stability and the electronic, magnetic, electrochemical, and mechanical properties of inorganic solids. We will also connect the chemistry of inorganic materials to some of their current and emerging applications, especially in the realm of nanoscale chemistry. By the end of the book the diligent student should know many of the elements in the periodic table as good friends, and the others at least as nodding acquaintances.

We hope to add second-semester topics, including group theory, spectroscopy, organometallic chemistry, and bioinorganic chemistry, in future editions of this book.

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This wikibook is a cooperative learning project of students in Chemistry 310 at Penn State University

Chapter 1: Review of Chemical Bonding

  • 1.1 Valence bond theory: Lewis dot structures, the octet rule, formal charge, resonance, and the isoelectronic principle
  • 1.2 The shapes of molecules (VSEPR theory) and orbital hybridization
  • 1.3 Bond polarity and bond strength
  • 1.4 Discussion questions
  • 1.5 Problems
  • 1.6 References

Chapter 2: Molecular Orbital Theory

  • 2.1 Constructing molecular orbitals from atomic orbitals
  • 2.2 Orbital symmetry
  • 2.3 σ, π, and δ orbitals
  • 2.4 Diatomic molecules
  • 2.5 Orbital filling
  • 2.6 Periodic trends in π bonding
  • 2.7 Three-center bonding
  • 2.8 Building up the MOs of more complex molecules: NH3, P4
  • 2.9 Homology of σ and π orbitals in MO diagrams
  • 2.10 Chains and rings of π-conjugated systems
  • 2.11 Discussion questions
  • 2.12 Problems
  • 2.13 References

Chapter 3: Acid-Base Chemistry

  • 3.1 Brønsted and Lewis acids and bases
  • 3.2 Hard and soft acids and bases
  • 3.3 Discussion questions
  • 3.4 Problems
  • 3.5 References

Chapter 4 : Redox Stability and Redox Reactions

  • 4.1 Balancing redox reactions
  • 4.2 Electrochemical potentials
  • 4.3 Latimer and Frost diagrams
  • 4.4 Redox reactions with coupled equilibria
  • 4.5 Pourbaix diagrams
  • 4.6 Discussion questions
  • 4.7 Problems
  • 4.8 References

Chapter 5 : Coordination Chemistry and Crystal Field Theory

  • 5.1 Counting electrons in transition metal complexes
  • 5.2 Crystal field theory
  • 5.3 Spectrochemical series
  • 5.4 π-bonding between metals and ligands
  • 5.5 Crystal field stabilization energy, pairing, and Hund's rule
  • 5.6 Non-octahedral complexes
  • 5.7 Jahn-Teller effect
  • 5.8 Tetrahedral complexes
  • 5.9 Stability of transition metal complexes
  • 5.10 Chelate and macrocyclic effects
  • 5.11 Ligand substitution reactions
  • 5.12 Discussion questions
  • 5.13 Problems
  • 5.14 References

Chapter 6 : Metals and Alloys: Structure, Bonding, Electronic and Magnetic Properties

  • 6.1 Unit cells and crystal structures
  • 6.2 Bravais lattices
  • 6.3 Crystal structures of metals
  • 6.4 Bonding in metals
  • 6.5 Conduction in metals
  • 6.6 Atomic orbitals and magnetism
  • 6.7 Ferro-, ferri- and antiferromagnetism
  • 6.8 Hard and soft magnets
  • 6.9 Discussion questions
  • 6.10 Problems
  • 6.11 References

Chapter 7 : Metals and Alloys: Mechanical Properties

  • 7.1 Defects in metallic crystals
  • 7.2 Work hardening, alloying, and annealing
  • 7.3 Malleability of metals and alloys
  • 7.4 Iron and steel
  • 7.5 Amorphous alloys
  • 7.6 Discussion questions
  • 7.7 Problems
  • 7.8 References

Chapter 8 : Ionic and Covalent Solids - Structures

  • 8.1 Close-packing and interstitial sites
  • 8.2 Structures related to NaCl and NiAs
  • 8.3 Tetrahedral structures
  • 8.4 Layered structures and intercalation reactions
  • 8.5 Bonding in TiS2, MoS2, and pyrite structures
  • 8.6 Spinel, perovskite, and rutile structures
  • 8.7 Discussion questions
  • 8.8 Problems
  • 8.9 References

Chapter 9 : Ionic and Covalent Solids - Energetics

  • 9.1 Ionic radii and radius ratios
  • 9.2 Structure maps
  • 9.3 Energetics of crystalline solids: the ionic model
  • 9.4 Born-Haber cycles for NaCl and silver halides
  • 9.5 Kapustinskii equation
  • 9.6 Discovery of noble gas compounds
  • 9.7 Stabilization of high and low oxidation states
  • 9.8 Alkalides and electrides
  • 9.9 Resonance energy of metals
  • 9.10 Lattice energies and solubility
  • 9.11 Discussion questions
  • 9.12 Problems
  • 9.13 References

Chapter 10 : Electronic Properties of Materials: Superconductors and Semiconductors

  • 10.1 Metal-insulator transitions
  • 10.2 Superconductors
  • 10.3 Periodic trends: metals, semiconductors, and insulators
  • 10.4 Semiconductors: band gaps, colors, conductivity and doping
  • 10.5 Semiconductor p-n junctions
  • 10.6 Diodes, LED's and solar cells
  • 10.7 Amorphous semiconductors
  • 10.8 Discussion questions
  • 10.9 Problems
  • 10.10 References

Chapter 11: Basic Science of Nanomaterials

  • 11.1 Physics and length scales: cavity laser, Coulomb blockade, nanoscale magnets
  • 11.2 Semiconductor quantum dots
  • 11.3 Synthesis of semiconductor nanocrystals
  • 11.4 Surface energy
  • 11.5 Nanoscale metal particles
  • 11.6 Discussion questions
  • 11.7 Problems
  • 11.8 References

Chapter 12: Applications of Nanomaterials

  • 12.1 Nanotechnology is everywhere
  • 12.2 Toxicity and public concerns about nanomaterials
  • 12.3 Optical properties of metal nanoparticles
  • 12.4 Medical diagnostics and therapy with metal nanoparticles
  • 12.5 Nanomotors
  • 12.6 Nanoscience in energy: the basics of energy generation and use
  • 12.7 Lithium batteries
  • 12.8 Solar energy conversion
  • 12.9 Nanomaterials in solar cells
  • 12.10 Discussion questions
  • 12.11 Problems
  • 12.12 References