The chalcogens (/ˈkælkədʒɪnz/) are the chemical elements in group 16 of the periodic table. This group is also known as the oxygen family. It consists of the elements oxygen (O), sulfur (S), selenium (Se), tellurium (Te), and the radioactive element polonium (Po). The chemically uncharacterized synthetic element livermorium (Lv) is predicted to be a chalcogen as well. Often, oxygen is treated separately from the other chalcogens, sometimes even excluded from the scope of the term "chalcogen" altogether, due to its very different chemical behavior from sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and polonium. The word "chalcogen" is derived from a combination of the Greek word khalkόs (χαλκός) principally meaning copper (the term was also used for bronze/brass, any metal in the poetic sense, ore or coin), and the Latinised Greek word genēs, meaning born or produced.
Sulfur has been known since antiquity, and oxygen was recognized as an element in the 18th century. Selenium, tellurium and polonium were discovered in the 19th century, and livermorium in 2000. All of the chalcogens have six valence electrons, leaving them two electrons short of a full outer shell. Their most common oxidation states are −2, +2, +4, and +6. They have relatively low atomic radii, especially the lighter ones.
Lighter chalcogens are typically nontoxic in their elemental form, and are often critical to life, while the heavier chalcogens are typically toxic. All of the chalcogens have some role in biological functions, either as a nutrient or a toxin. The lighter chalcogens, such as oxygen and sulfur, are rarely toxic and usually helpful in their pure form. Selenium is an important nutrient but is also commonly toxic. Tellurium often has unpleasant effects (although some organisms can use it), and polonium is always extremely harmful, both in its chemical toxicity and its radioactivity.
Sulfur has more than 20 allotropes, oxygen has nine, selenium has at least five, polonium has two, and only one crystal structure of tellurium has so far been discovered. There are numerous organic chalcogen compounds. Not counting oxygen, organic sulfur compounds are generally the most common, followed by organic selenium compounds and organic tellurium compounds. This trend also occurs with chalcogen pnictides and compounds containing chalcogens and carbon group elements.
Oxygen is generally extracted from air and sulfur is extracted from oil and natural gas. Selenium and tellurium are produced as byproducts of copper refining. Polonium and livermorium are most available in particle accelerators. The primary use of elemental oxygen is in steelmaking. Sulfur is mostly converted into sulfuric acid, which is heavily used in the chemical industry. Selenium's most common application is glassmaking. Tellurium compounds are mostly used in optical disks, electronic devices, and solar cells. Some of polonium's applications are due to its radioactivity.
8 Reactive nonmetal
16 Reactive nonmetal
34 Reactive nonmetal
84 Post-transition metal
116 Unknown chemical properties
Chalcogens show similar patterns in electron configuration, especially in the outermost shells, where they all have the same number of valence electrons, resulting in similar trends in chemical behavior:
|Z||Element||No. of electrons/shell|
|16||sulfur||2, 8, 6|
|34||selenium||2, 8, 18, 6|
|52||tellurium||2, 8, 18, 18, 6|
|84||polonium||2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 6|
|116||livermorium||2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 18, 6 (predicted)|
|Element||Melting point (Celsius)||Boiling point (Celsius)||Reference|
|Element||Density at STP (g/cm3)||Reference|
All chalcogens have six valence electrons. All of the solid, stable chalcogens are soft and do not conduct heat well. Electronegativity decreases towards the chalcogens with higher atomic numbers. Density, melting and boiling points, and atomic and ionic radii tend to increase towards the chalcogens with higher atomic numbers.
Out of the six known chalcogens, one (oxygen) has an atomic number equal to a nuclear magic number, which means that their atomic nuclei tend to have increased stability towards radioactive decay. Oxygen has three stable isotopes, and 14 unstable ones. Sulfur has four stable isotopes, 20 radioactive ones, and one isomer. Selenium has six observationally stable or nearly stable isotopes, 26 radioactive isotopes, and 9 isomers. Tellurium has eight stable or nearly stable isotopes, 31 unstable ones, and 17 isomers. Polonium has 42 isotopes, none of which are stable. It has an additional 28 isomers. In addition to the stable isotopes, some radioactive chalcogen isotopes occur in nature, either because they are decay products, such as 210Po, because they are primordial, such as 82Se, because of cosmic ray spallation, or via nuclear fission of uranium. Livermorium isotopes 290 through 293 have been discovered. The most stable livermorium isotope is 293Lv, which has a half-life of 0.061 seconds.
Among the lighter chalcogens (oxygen and sulfur), the most neutron-poor isotopes undergo proton emission, the moderately neutron-poor isotopes undergo electron capture or β+ decay, the moderately neutron-rich isotopes undergo β− decay, and the most neutron rich isotopes undergo neutron emission. The middle chalcogens (selenium and tellurium) have similar decay tendencies as the lighter chalcogens, but their isotopes do not undergo proton emission and some of the most neutron-starved isotopes of tellurium undergo alpha decay. Polonium's isotopes tend to decay with alpha or beta decay. Isotopes with nuclear spins are more common among the chalcogens selenium and tellurium than they are with sulfur.
Oxygen's most common allotrope is diatomic oxygen, or O2, a reactive paramagnetic molecule that is ubiquitous to aerobic organisms and has a blue color in its liquid state. Another allotrope is O3, or ozone, which is three oxygen atoms bonded together in a bent formation. There is also an allotrope called tetraoxygen, or O4, and six allotropes of solid oxygen including "red oxygen", which has the formula O8.
Sulfur has over 20 known allotropes, which is more than any other element except carbon. The most common allotropes are in the form of eight-atom rings, but other molecular allotropes that contain as few as two atoms or as many as 20 are known. Other notable sulfur allotropes include rhombic sulfur and monoclinic sulfur. Rhombic sulfur is the more stable of the two allotropes. Monoclinic sulfur takes the form of long needles and is formed when liquid sulfur is cooled to slightly below its melting point. The atoms in liquid sulfur are generally in the form of long chains, but above 190° Celsius, the chains begin to break down. If liquid sulfur above 190°Celsius is frozen very rapidly, the resulting sulfur is amorphous or "plastic" sulfur. Gaseous sulfur is a mixture of diatomic sulfur (S2) and 8-atom rings.
Selenium has at least five known allotropes.The gray allotrope, commonly referred to as the "metallic" allotrope, despite not being a metal, is stable and has a hexagonal crystal structure. The gray allotrope of selenium is soft, with a Mohs hardness of 2, and brittle. The four other allotropes of selenium are metastable. These include two monoclinic red allotropes and two amorphous allotropes, one of which is red and one of which is black. The red allotrope converts to the red allotrope in the presence of heat. The gray allotrope of selenium is made from spirals on selenium atoms, while one of the red allotropes is made of stacks of selenium rings (Se8).
Tellurium is not known to have any allotropes, although its typical form is hexagonal. Polonium has two allotropes, which are known as α-polonium and β-polonium. α-polonium has a cubic crystal structure and converts to the rhombohedral β-polonium at 36 °C.
The chalcogens have varying crystal structures. Oxygen's crystal structure is monoclinic, sulfur's is orthorhombic, selenium and tellurium have the hexagonal crystal structure, while polonium has a cubic crystal structure.
Oxygen, sulfur, and selenium are nonmetals, and tellurium is a metalloid, meaning that its chemical properties are between those of a metal and those of a nonmetal. It is not certain whether polonium is a metal or a metalloid. Some sources refer to polonium as a metalloid, although it has some metallic properties. Also, some allotropes of selenium display characteristics of a metalloid, even though selenium is usually considered a nonmetal. Even though oxygen is a chalcogen, its chemical properties are different from those of other chalcogens. One reason for this is that the heavier chalcogens have vacant d-orbitals. Oxygen's electronegativity is also much higher than those of the other chalcogens. This makes oxygen's electric polarizability several times lower than those of the other chalcogens.
The oxidation number of the most common chalcogen compounds with positive metals is −2. However the tendency for chalcogens to form compounds in the −2 state decreases towards the heavier chalcogens. Other oxidation numbers, such as −1 in pyrite and peroxide, do occur. The highest formal oxidation number is +6. This oxidation number is found in sulfates, selenates, tellurates, polonates, and their corresponding acids, such as sulfuric acid.
Oxygen is the most electronegative element except for fluorine, and forms compounds with almost all of the chemical elements, including some of the noble gases. It commonly bonds with many metals and metalloids to form oxides, including iron oxide, titanium oxide, and silicon oxide. Oxygen's most common oxidation state is −2, and the oxidation state −1 is also relatively common. With hydrogen it forms water and hydrogen peroxide. Organic oxygen compounds are ubiquitous in organic chemistry.
Sulfur's oxidation states are −2, +2, +4, and +6. Sulfur-containing analogs of oxygen compounds often have the prefix thio-. Sulfur's chemistry is similar to oxygen's, in many ways. One difference is that sulfur-sulfur double bonds are far weaker than oxygen-oxygen double bonds, but sulfur-sulfur single bonds are stronger than oxygen-oxygen single bonds. Organic sulfur compounds such as thiols have a strong specific smell, and a few are utilized by some organisms.
Selenium's oxidation states are −2, +4, and +6. Selenium, like most chalcogens, bonds with oxygen. There are some organic selenium compounds, such as selenoproteins. Tellurium's oxidation states are −2, +2, +4, and +6. Tellurium forms the oxides tellurium monoxide, tellurium dioxide, and tellurium trioxide. Polonium's oxidation states are +2 and +4.
There are many acids containing chalcogens, including sulfuric acid, sulfurous acid, selenic acid, and telluric acid. All hydrogen chalcogenides are toxic except for water. Oxygen ions often come in the forms of oxide ions (O2−
), peroxide ions (O2−
2), and hydroxide ions (OH−
). Sulfur ions generally come in the form of sulfides (S2−
), sulfites (SO2−
3), sulfates (SO2−
4), and thiosulfates (S
3). Selenium ions usually come in the form of selenides (Se2−
) and selenates (SeO2−
4). Tellurium ions often come in the form of tellurates (TeO2−
4). Molecules containing metal bonded to chalcogens are common as minerals. For example, pyrite (FeS2) is an iron ore, and the rare mineral calaverite is the ditelluride (Au, Ag)Te2.
Although all group 16 elements of the periodic table, including oxygen, can be defined as chalcogens, oxygen and oxides are usually distinguished from chalcogens and chalcogenides. The term chalcogenide is more commonly reserved for sulfides, selenides, and tellurides, rather than for oxides.
Chalcogens also form compounds with halogens known as chalcohalides. Such compounds are known as chalcogen halides. The majority of simple chalcogen halides are well-known and widely used as chemical reagents. However, more complicated chalcogen halides, such as sulfenyl, sulfonyl, and sulfuryl halides, are less well known to science. Out of the compounds consisting purely of chalcogens and halogens, there are a total of 13 chalcogen fluorides, nine chalcogen chlorides, eight chalcogen bromides, and six chalcogen iodides that are known. The heavier chalcogen halides often have significant molecular interactions. Sulfur fluorides with low valences are fairly unstable and little is known about their properties. However, sulfur fluorides with high valences, such as sulfur hexafluoride, are stable and well-known. Sulfur tetrafluoride is also a well-known sulfur fluoride. Certain selenium fluorides, such as selenium difluoride, have been produced in small amounts. The crystal structures of both selenium tetrafluoride and tellurium tetrafluoride are known. Chalcogen chlorides and bromides have also been explored. In particular, selenium dichloride and sulfur dichloride can react to form organic selenium compounds. Dichalcogen dihalides, such as Se2Cl2 also are known to exist. There are also mixed chalcogen-halogen compounds. These include SeSX, with X being chlorine or bromine. Such compounds can form in mixtures of sulfur dichloride and selenium halides. These compounds have been fairly recently structurally characterized, as of 2008. In general, diselenium and disulfur chlorides and bromides are useful chemical reagents. Chalcogen halides with attached metal atoms are soluble in organic solutions. One example of such a compound is MoS2Cl3. Unlike selenium chlorides and bromides, selenium iodides have not been isolated, as of 2008, although it is likely that they occur in solution. Diselenium diiodide, however, does occur in equilibrium with selenium atoms and iodine molecules. Some tellurium halides with low valences, such as Te2Cl2 and Te2Br2, form polymers when in the solid state. These tellurium halides can be synthesized by the reduction of pure tellurium with superhydride and reacting the resulting product with tellurium tetrahalides. Ditellurium dihalides tend to get less stable as the halides become lower in atomic number and atomic mass. Tellurium also forms iodides with even fewer iodine atoms than diiodies. These include TeI and Te2I. These compounds have extended structures in the solid state. Halogens and chalcogens can also form halochalcogenate anions.
Alcohols, phenols and other similar compounds contain oxygen. However, in thiols, selenols and tellurols; sulfur, selenium, and tellurium replace oxygen. Thiols are better known than selenols or tellurols. Thiols are the most stable chalcogenols and tellurols are the least stable, being unstable in heat or light. Other organic chalcogen compounds include thioethers, selenoethers and telluroethers. Some of these, such as dimethyl sulfide, diethyl sulfide, and dipropyl sulfide are commercially available. Selenoethers are in the form of R2Se or RSeR. Telluroethers such as dimethyl telluride are typically prepared in the same way as thioethers and selenoethers. Organic chalcogen compounds, especially organic sulfur compounds, have the tendency to smell unpleasant. Dimethyl telluride also smells unpleasant, and selenophenol is renowned for its "metaphysical stench". There are also thioketones, selenoketones, and telluroketones. Out of these, thioketones are the most well-studied with 80% of chalcogenoketones papers being about them. Selenoketones make up 16% of such papers and telluroketones make up 4% of them. Thioketones have well-studied non-linear electric and photophysic properties. Selenoketones are less stable than thioketones and telluroketones are less stable than selenoketones. Telluroketones have the highest level of polarity of chalcogenoketones.
Elemental chalcogens react with certain lanthanide compounds to form lanthanide clusters rich in chalcogens. Uranium(IV) chalcogenol compounds also exist. There are also transition metal chalcogenols which have potential to serve as catalysts and stabilize nanoparticles.
There is a very large number of metal chalcogenides. One of the more recent discoveries in this group of compounds is Rb2Te. There are also compounds in which alkali metals and transition metals such as the fourth period transition metals except for copper and zinc. In highly metal-rich metal chalcogenides, such as Lu7Te and Lu8Te have domains of the metal's crystal lattice containing chalcogen atoms. While these compounds do exist, analogous chemicals that contain lanthanum, praseodymium, gadolinium, holmium, terbium, or ytterbium have not been discovered, as of 2008. The boron group metals aluminum, gallium, and indium also form bonds to chalcogens. The Ti3+ ion forms chalcogenide dimers such as TiTl5Se8. Metal chalcogenide dimers also occur as lower tellurides, such as Zr5Te6.
Compounds with chalcogen-phosphorus bonds have been explored for more than 200 years. These compounds include unsophisticated phosphorus chalcogenides as well as large molecules with biological roles and phosphorus-chalcogen compounds with metal clusters. These compounds have numerous applications, including strike-anywhere matches and quantum dots. A total of 130,000 compounds with at least one phosphorus-sulfur bond, 6000 compounds with at least one phosphorus-selenium bond, and 350 compounds with at least one phosphorus-tellurium bond have been discovered. The decrease in the number of chalcogen-phosphorus compounds further down the periodic table is due to diminishing bond strength. Such compounds tend at least one phosphorus atom in the center, surrounded by four chalcogens and side chains. However, some phosphorus-chalcogen compounds also contain hydrogen (such as secondary phosphine chalcogenides) or nitrogen (such as dichalcogenoimidodiphosphates). Phosphorus selenides are typically harder to handle that phosphorus sulfides, and compounds in the form PxTey have not been discovered. Chalcogens also bond with other pnictogens, such as arsenic, antimony, and bismuth. Heavier chalcogen pnictides tend to form ribbon-like polymers instead of individual molecules. Chemical formulas of these compounds include Bi2S3 and Sb2Se3. Ternary chalcogen pnictides are also known. Examples of these include P4O6Se and P3SbS3. salts containing chalcogens and pnictogens also exist. Almost all chalcogen pnictide salts are typically in the form of [PnxE4x]3−, where Pn is a pnictogen and E is a chalcogen. Tertiary phosphines can react with chalcogens to form compounds in the form of R3PE, where E is a chalcogen. When E is sulfur, these compounds are relatively stable, but they are less so when E is selenium or tellurium. Similarly, secondary phosphines can react with chalcogens to form secondary phosphine chalcogenides. However, these compounds are in a state of equilibrium with chalcogenophosphinous acid. Secondary phosphine chalcogenides are weak acids. Binary compounds consisting of antimony or arsenic and a chalcogen. These compounds tend to be colorful and can be created by a reaction of the constituent elements at temperatures of 500 to 900 °C (932 to 1,652 °F).
Chalcogens form single bonds and double bonds with other carbon group elements than carbon, such as silicon, germanium, and tin. Such compounds typically form from a reaction of carbon group halides and chalcogenol salts or chalcogenol bases. Cyclic compounds with chalcogens, carbon group elements, and boron atoms exist, and occur from the reaction of boron dichalcogenates and carbon group metal halides. Compounds in the form of M-E, where M is silicon, germanium, or tin, and E is sulfur, selenium or tellurium have been discovered. These form when carbon group hydrides react or when heavier versions of carbenes react. Sulfur and tellurium can bond with organic compounds containing both silicon and phosphorus.
All of the chalcogens form hydrides. In some cases this occurs with chalcogens bonding with two hydrogen atoms. However tellurium hydride and polonium hydride are both volatile and highly labile. Also, oxygen can bond to hydrogen in a 1:1 ratio as in hydrogen peroxide, but this compound is unstable.
Chalcogen compounds form a number of interchalcogens. For instance, sulfur forms the toxic sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide. Tellurium also forms oxides. There are some chalcogen sulfides as well. These include selenium sulfide, an ingredient in some shampoos.
Since 1990, a number of borides with chalcogens bonded to them have been detected. The chalcogens in these compounds are mostly sulfur, although some do contain selenium instead. One such chalcogen boride consists of two molecules of dimethyl sulfide attached to a boron-hydrogen molecule. Other important boron-chalcogen compounds include macropolyhedral systems. Such compounds tend to feature sulfur as the chalcogen. There are also chalcogen borides with two, three, or four chalcogens. Many of these contain sulfur but some, such as Na2B2Se7 contain selenium instead.
Sulfur has been known since ancient times and is mentioned in the Bible fifteen times. It was known to the ancient Greeks and commonly mined by the ancient Romans. It was also historically used as a component of Greek fire. In the Middle Ages, it was a key part of alchemical experiments. In the 1700s and 1800s, scientists Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard proved sulfur to be a chemical element.
Early attempts to separate oxygen from air were hampered by the fact that air was thought of as a single element up to the 17th and 18th centuries. Robert Hooke, Mikhail Lomonosov, Ole Borch, and Pierre Bayden all successfully created oxygen, but did not realize it at the time. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1774 when he focused sunlight on a sample of mercuric oxide and collected the resulting gas. Carl Wilhelm Scheele had also created oxygen in 1771 by the same method, but Scheele did not publish his results until 1777.
Tellurium was first discovered in 1783 by Franz Joseph Müller von Reichenstein. He discovered tellurium in a sample of what is now known as calaverite. Müller assumed at first that the sample was pure antimony, but tests he ran on the sample did not agree with this. Muller then guessed that the sample was bismuth sulfide, but tests confirmed that the sample was not that. For some years, Muller pondered the problem. Eventually he realized that the sample was gold bonded with an unknown element. In 1796, Müller sent part of the sample to the German chemist Martin Klaproth, who purified the undiscovered element. Klaproth decided to call the element tellurium after the Latin word for earth.
Selenium was discovered in 1817 by Jöns Jacob Berzelius. Berzelius noticed a reddish-brown sediment at a sulfuric acid manufacturing plant. The sample was thought to contain arsenic. Berzelius initially thought that the sediment contained tellurium, but came to realize that it also contained a new element, which he named selenium after the Greek moon goddess Selene.
Three of the chalcogens (sulfur, selenium, and tellurium) were part of the discovery of periodicity, as they are among a series of triads of elements in the same group that were noted by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner as having similar properties. Around 1865 John Newlands produced a series of papers where he listed the elements in order of increasing atomic weight and similar physical and chemical properties that recurred at intervals of eight; he likened such periodicity to the octaves of music. His version included a "group b" consisting of oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and osmium.
After 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev proposed his periodic table placing oxygen at the top of "group VI" above sulfur, selenium, and tellurium. Chromium, molybdenum, tungsten, and uranium were sometimes included in this group, but they would be later rearranged as part of group VIB; uranium would later be moved to the actinide series. Oxygen, along with sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and later polonium would be grouped in group VIA, until the group's name was changed to group 16 in 1988.
In the late 19th century, Marie Curie and Pierre Curie discovered that a sample of pitchblende was emitting four times as much radioactivity as could be explained by the presence of uranium alone. The Curies gathered several tons of pitchblende and refined it for several months until they had a pure sample of polonium. The discovery officially took place in 1898. Prior to the invention of particle accelerators, the only way to create polonium was to extract it over several months from uranium ore.
The first attempt at creating livermorium was from 1976 to 1977 at the LBNL, who bombarded curium-248 with calcium-48, but were not successful. After several failed attempts in 1977, 1998, and 1999 by research groups in Russia, Germany, and the US, livermorium was created successfully in 2000 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research by bombarding curium-248 atoms with calcium-48 atoms. The element was known as ununhexium until it was officially named livermorium in 2012.
In the 19th century, Jons Jacob Berzelius suggested calling the elements in group 16 "amphigens", as the elements in the group formed amphid salts (salts of oxyacids) The term received some use in the early 1800s but is now obsolete. The name chalcogen comes from the Greek words χαλκος (chalkos, literally "copper"), and γενές (genes, born, gender, kindle). It was first used in 1932 by Wilhelm Biltz's group at the University of Hanover, where it was proposed by Werner Fischer. The word "chalcogen" gained popularity in Germany during the 1930s because the term was analogous to "halogen". Although the literal meanings of the Greek words imply that chalcogen means "copper-former", this is misleading because the chalcogens have nothing to do with copper in particular. "Ore-former" has been suggested as a better translation, as the vast majority of metal ores are chalcogenides and the word χαλκος in ancient Greek was associated with metals and metal-bearing rock in general; copper, and its alloy bronze, was one of the first metals to be used by humans.
Oxygen's name comes from the Greek words oxy genes, meaning "acid-forming". Sulfur's name comes from either the Latin word sulfurium or the Sanskrit word sulvere; both of those terms are ancient words for sulfur. Selenium is named after the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene, to match the previously-discovered element tellurium, whose name comes from the Latin word telus, meaning earth. Polonium is named after Marie Curie's country of birth, Poland. Livermorium is named for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The four lightest chalcogens (oxygen, sulfur, selenium, and tellurium) are all primordial elements on Earth. Sulfur and oxygen occur as constituent copper ores and selenium and tellurium occur in small traces in such ores. Polonium forms naturally after the decay of other elements, even though it is not primordial. Livermorium does not occur naturally at all.
Oxygen makes up 21% of the atmosphere by weight, 89% of water by weight, 46% of the earth's crust by weight, and 65% of the human body. Oxygen also occurs in many minerals, being found in all oxide minerals and hydroxide minerals, and in numerous other mineral groups. Stars of at least eight times the mass of the sun also produce oxygen in their cores via nuclear fusion. Oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, making up 1% of the universe by weight.
Sulfur makes up 0.035% of the earth's crust by weight, making it the 17th most abundant element there and makes up 0.25% of the human body. It is a major component of soil. Sulfur makes up 870 parts per million of seawater and about 1 part per billion of the atmosphere. Sulfur can be found in elemental form or in the form of sulfide minerals, sulfate minerals, or sulfosalt minerals. Stars of at least 12 times the mass of the sun produce sulfur in their cores via nuclear fusion. Sulfur is the tenth most abundant element in the universe, making up 500 parts per million of the universe by weight.
Selenium makes up 0.05 parts per million of the earth's crust by weight. This makes it the 67th most abundant element in the earth's crust. Selenium makes up on average 5 parts per million of the soils. Seawater contains around 200 parts per trillion of selenium. The atmosphere contains 1 nanogram of selenium per cubic meter. There are mineral groups known as selenates and selenites, but there are not many of minerals in these groups. Selenium is not produced directly by nuclear fusion. Selenium makes up 30 parts per billion of the universe by weight.
There are only 5 parts per billion of tellurium in the earth's crust and 15 parts per billion of tellurium in seawater. Tellurium is one of the eight or nine least abundant elements in the earth's crust. There are a few dozen tellurate minerals and telluride minerals, and tellurium occurs in some minerals with gold, such as sylvanite and calaverite. Tellurium makes up 9 parts per billion of the universe by weight.
Polonium only occurs in trace amounts on earth, via radioactive decay of uranium and thorium. It is present in uranium ores in concentrations of 100 micrograms per metric ton. Very minute amounts of polonium exist in the soil and thus in most food, and thus in the human body. The earth's crust contains less than 1 part per billion of polonium, making it one of the ten rarest metals on earth.
Livermorium is always produced artificially in particle accelerators. Even when it is produced, only a small number of atoms at a time are synthesized.
Chalcophile elements are those that remain on or close to the surface because they combine readily with chalcogens other than oxygen, forming compounds which do not sink into the core. Chalcophile ("chalcogen-loving") elements in this context are those metals and heavier nonmetals that have a low affinity for oxygen and prefer to bond with the heavier chalcogen sulfur as sulfides. Because sulfide minerals are much denser than the silicate minerals formed by lithophile elements, chalcophile elements separated below the lithophiles at the time of the first crystallisation of the Earth's crust. This has led to their depletion in the Earth's crust relative to their solar abundances, though this depletion has not reached the levels found with siderophile elements.
Approximately 100 million metric tons of oxygen are produced yearly. Oxygen is most commonly produced by fractional distillation, in which air is cooled to a liquid, then warmed, allowing all the components of air except for oxygen to turn to gases and escape. Fractionally distilling air several times can produce 99.5% pure oxygen. Another method with which oxygen is produced is to send a stream of dry, clean air through a bed of molecular sieves made of zeolite, which absorbs the nitrogen in the air, leaving 90 to 93% pure oxygen.
Sulfur can be mined in its elemental form, although this method is no longer as popular as it used to be. In 1865 a large deposit of elemental sulfur was discovered in the U.S. states of Louisiana and Texas, but it was difficult to extract at the time. In the 1890s, Herman Frasch came up with the solution of liquefying the sulfur with superheated steam and pumping the sulfur up to the surface. These days sulfur is instead more often extracted from oil, natural gas, and tar.
The world production of selenium is around 1500 metric tons per year, out of which roughly 10% is recycled. Japan is the largest producer, producing 800 metric tons of selenium per year. Other large producers include Belgium (300 metric tons per year), the United States (over 200 metric tons per year), Sweden (130 metric tons per year), and Russia (100 metric tons per year). Selenium can be extracted from the waste from the process of electrolytically refining copper. Another method of producing selenium is to farm selenium-gathering plants such as milk vetch. This method could produce three kilograms of selenium per acre, but is not commonly practiced.
Tellurium is mostly produced as a by-product of the processing of copper. Tellurium can also be refined by electrolytic reduction of sodium telluride. The world production of tellurium is between 150 and 200 metric tons per year. The United States is one of the largest producers of tellurium, producing around 50 metric tons per year. Peru, Japan, and Canada are also large producers of tellurium.
Until the creation of nuclear reactors, all polonium had to be extracted from uranium ore. In modern times, most isotopes of polonium are produced by bombarding bismuth with neutrons. Polonium can also be produced by high neutron fluxes in nuclear reactors. Approximately 100 grams of polonium are produced yearly. All the polonium produced for commercial purposes is made in the Ozersk nuclear reactor in Russia. From there, it is taken to Samara, Russia for purification, and from there to St. Petersburg for distribution. The United States is the largest consumer of polonium.
All livermorium is produced artificially in particle accelerators. The first successful production of livermorium was achieved by bombarding curium-248 atoms with calcium-48 atoms. As of 2011, roughly 25 atoms of livermorium had been synthesized.
Steelmaking is the most important use of oxygen; 55% of all oxygen produced goes to this application. The chemical industry also uses large amounts of oxygen; 25% of all oxygen produced goes to this application. The remaining 20% of oxygen produced is mostly split between medical use, water treatment (as oxygen kills some types of bacteria), rocket fuel (in liquid form), and metal cutting.
Most sulfur produced is transformed into sulfur dioxide, which is further transformed into sulfuric acid, a very common industrial chemical. Other common uses include being a key ingredient of gunpowder and Greek fire, and being used to change soil pH. Sulfur is also mixed into rubber to vulcanize it. Sulfur is used in some types of concrete and fireworks. 60% of all sulfuric acid produced is used to generate phosphoric acid. Sulfur is used as a pesticide (specifically as an acaricide and fungicide) on "orchard, ornamental, vegetable, grain, and other crops."
Around 40% of all selenium produced goes to glassmaking. 30% of all selenium produced goes to metallurgy, including manganese production. 15% of all selenium produced goes to agriculture. Electronics such as photovoltaic materials claim 10% of all selenium produced. Pigments account for 5% of all selenium produced. Historically, machines such as photocopiers and light meters used one-third of all selenium produced, but this application is in steady decline.
Tellurium suboxide, a mixture of tellurium and tellurium dioxide, is used in the rewritable data layer of some CD-RW disks and DVD-RW disks. Bismuth telluride is also used in many microelectronic devices, such as photoreceptors. Tellurium is sometimes used as an alternative to sulfur in vulcanized rubber. Cadmium telluride is used as a high-efficiency material in solar panels.
Some of polonium's applications relate to the element's radioactivity. For instance, polonium is used as an alpha-particle generator for research. Polonium alloyed with beryllium provides an efficient neutron source. Polonium is also used in nuclear batteries. Most polonium is used in antistatic devices. Livermorium does not have any uses whatsoever due to its extreme rarity and short half-life.
Organochalcogen compounds are involved in the semiconductor process. These compounds also feature into ligand chemistry and biochemistry. One application of chalcogens themselves is to manipulate redox couples in supramolar chemistry (chemistry involving non-covalent bond interactions). This application leads on to such applications as crystal packing, assembly of large molecules, and biological recognition of patterns. The secondary bonding interactions of the larger chalcogens, selenium and tellurium, can create organic solvent-holding acetylene nanotubes. Chalcogen interactions are useful for conformational analysis and stereoelectronic effects, among other things. Chalcogenides with through bonds also have applications. For instance, divalent sulfur can stabilize carbanions, cationic centers, and radical. Chalcogens can confer upon ligands (such as DCTO) properties such as being able to transform Cu(II) to Cu(I). Studying chalcogen interactions gives access to radical cations, which are used in mainstream synthetic chemistry. Metallic redox centers of biological importance are tunable by interactions of ligands containing chalcogens, such as methionine and selenocysteine. Also, chalcogen through-bonds can provide insight about the process of electron transfer.
Oxygen is needed by almost all organisms for the purpose of generating ATP. It is also a key component of most other biological compounds, such as water, amino acids and DNA. Human blood contains a large amount of oxygen. Human bones contain 28% oxygen. Human tissue contains 16% oxygen. A typical 70-kilogram human contains 43 kilograms of oxygen, mostly in the form of water.
All animals need significant amounts of sulfur. Some amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine contain sulfur. Plant roots take up sulfate ions from the soil and reduce it to sulfide ions. Metalloproteins also use sulfur to attach to useful metal atoms in the body and sulfur similarly attaches itself to poisonous metal atoms like cadmium to haul them to the safety of the liver. On average, humans consume 900 milligrams of sulfur each day. Sulfur compounds, such as those found in skunk spray often have strong odors.
All animals and some plants need trace amounts of selenium, but only for some specialized enzymes. Humans consume on average between 6 and 200 micrograms of selenium per day. Mushrooms and brazil nuts are especially noted for their high selenium content. Selenium in foods is most commonly found in the form of amino acids such as selenocysteine and selenomethionine. Selenium can protect against heavy metal poisoning.
Tellurium is not known to be needed for animal life, although a few fungi can incorporate it in compounds in place of selenium. Microorganisms also absorb tellurium and emit dimethyl telluride. Most tellurium in the blood stream is excreted slowly in urine, but some is converted to dimethyl telluride and released through the lungs. On average, humans ingest about 600 micrograms of tellurium daily. Plants can take up some tellurium from the soil. Onions and garlic have been found to contain as much as 300 parts per million of tellurium in dry weight.
Polonium has no biological role, and is highly toxic on account of being radioactive.
Fire diamond for the chalcogen selenium
Oxygen is generally nontoxic, but oxygen toxicity has been reported when it is used in high concentrations. In both elemental gaseous form and as a component of water, it is vital to almost all life on earth. Despite this, liquid oxygen is highly dangerous. Even gaseous oxygen is dangerous in excess. For instance, sports divers have occasionally drowned from convulsions caused by breathing pure oxygen at a depth of more than 10 meters (33 feet) underwater. Oxygen is also toxic to some bacteria. Ozone, an allotrope of oxygen, is toxic to most life. It can cause lesions in the respiratory tract.
Sulfur is generally nontoxic and is even a vital nutrient for humans. However, in its elemental form it can cause redness in the eyes and skin, a burning sensation and a cough if inhaled, a burning sensation and diarrhoea and/or catharsis if ingested, and can irritate the mucous membranes. An excess of sulfur can be toxic for cows because microbes in the rumens of cows produce toxic hydrogen sulfide upon reaction with sulfur. Many sulfur compounds, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) are highly toxic.
Selenium is a trace nutrient required by humans on the order of tens or hundreds of micrograms per day. A dose of over 450 micrograms can be toxic, resulting in bad breath and body odor. Extended, low-level exposure, which can occur at some industries, results in weight loss, anemia, and dermatitis. In many cases of selenium poisoning, selenous acid is formed in the body. Hydrogen selenide (H2Se) is highly toxic.
Exposure to tellurium can produce unpleasant side effects. As little as 10 micrograms of tellurium per cubic meter of air can cause notoriously unpleasant breath, described as smelling like rotten garlic. Acute tellurium poisoning can cause vomiting, gut inflammation, internal bleeding, and respiratory failure. Extended, low-level exposure to tellurium causes tiredness and indigestion. Sodium tellurite (Na2TeO3) is lethal in amounts of around 2 grams.
Polonium is dangerous both as an alpha particle emitter and because it is chemically toxic. If ingested, polonium-210 is a billion times as toxic as hydrogen cyanide by weight; it has been used as a murder weapon in the past, most famously to kill Alexander Litvinenko. Polonium poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and lymphopenia. It can also damage hair follicles and white blood cells. Polonium-210 is only dangerous if ingested or inhaled because its alpha particle emissions cannot penetrate human skin. Polonium-209 is also toxic, and can cause leukemia.
An alum () is a type of chemical compound, usually a hydrated double sulfate salt of aluminium with the general formula XAl(SO4)2·12H2O, where X is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium. By itself, "alum" often refers to potassium alum, with the formula KAl(SO4)2·12H2O. Other alums are named after the monovalent ion, such as sodium alum and ammonium alum.
The name "alum" is also used, more generally, for salts with the same formula and structure, except that aluminium is replaced by another trivalent metal ion like chromium(III), and/or sulfur is replaced by other chalcogen like selenium. The most common of these analogs is chrome alum KCr(SO4)2·12H2O.
In most industries, the name "alum" (or "papermaker's alum") is used to refer to aluminium sulfate Al2(SO4)3·nH2O, which is used for most industrial flocculation. In medicine, "alum" may also refer to aluminium hydroxide gel used as a vaccine adjuvant.Chalcogen bond
A chalcogen bond is an attractive interaction in the family of σ-hole interactions, along with hydrogen bonds and halogen bonds. This family of attractive interactions has been modeled as an electron donor interacting with the σ* orbital of a C-X bond (X= hydrogen, halogen, chalcogen, pnictogen, etc.). Electron density mapping is often invoked to visualize the electron density of the donor and an electrophilic region on the acceptor, referred to as a σ-hole. Chalcogen bonds, much like hydrogen and halogen bonds, have been invoked in various non-covalent interactions, such as protein folding, crystal engineering, self-assembly, catalysis, transport, sensing, templation, and drug design.Chalcogenide
A chalcogenide is a chemical compound consisting of at least one chalcogen anion and at least one more electropositive element. Although all group 16 elements of the periodic table are defined as chalcogens, the term chalcogenide is more commonly reserved for sulfides, selenides, tellurides, and polonides, rather than oxides. Many metal ores exist as chalcogenides. Photoconductive chalcogenide glasses are used in xerography. Some pigments and catalysts are also based on chalcogenides. The metal dichalcogenide MoS2 is a common solid lubricant.Chalcogenide glass
Chalcogenide glass (pronounced hard ch as in chemistry) is a glass containing one or more chalcogens (sulfur, selenium and tellurium, but excluding oxygen). Such glasses are covalently bonded materials and may be classified as covalent network solids. Polonium is also a chalcogen but is not used because of its strong radioactivity. Chalcogenide materials behave rather differently from oxides, in particular their lower band gaps contribute to very dissimilar optical and electrical properties.
The classical chalcogenide glasses (mainly sulfur-based ones such as As-S or Ge-S) are strong glass-formers and possess glasses within large concentration regions. Glass-forming abilities decrease with increasing molar weight of constituent elements; i.e., S > Se > Te.
Chalcogenide compounds such as AgInSbTe and GeSbTe are used in rewritable optical disks and phase-change memory devices. They are fragile glass-formers: by controlling heating and annealing (cooling), they can be switched between an amorphous (glassy) and a crystalline state, thereby changing their optical and electrical properties and allowing the storage of information.Ditellurium bromide
Ditellurium bromide is the inorganic compound with the formula Te2Br. It is one of the few stable lower bromides of tellurium. Unlike sulfur and selenium, tellurium forms families of polymeric subhalides where the chalcogen/halide ratio is less than 2.Goldschmidt classification
The Goldschmidt classification,
developed by Victor Goldschmidt (1888-1947), is a geochemical classification which groups the chemical elements within the Earth according to their preferred host phases into lithophile (rock-loving), siderophile (iron-loving), chalcophile (ore-loving or chalcogen-loving), and atmophile (gas-loving) or volatile (the element, or a compound in which it occurs, is liquid or gaseous at ambient surface conditions).
Some elements have affinities to more than one phase. The main affinity is given in the table below and a discussion of each group follows that table.
The trace radioactive elements (namely Tc, Pm, Po, At, Rn, Fr, Ra, Ac, Pa, Np, and Pu) are shown as synthetic, because their occurrence in nature is fleeting and is entirely dependent on their long-lived parents Th and U, and they are not very mobile. For instance, polonium's chemistry would predict it to be a chalcophile, but in actuality it tends to occur instead as a lithophile along with its parent uranium. (Even radon, which is a gas, does not usually have time to travel very far from the original uranium source before decaying.) When needed, these elements are typically produced synthetically in nuclear reactors instead of using the tedious and laborious process of extraction from uranium ores.Hydrogen chalcogenide
Hydrogen chalcogenides (also chalcogen hydrides or hydrogen chalcides) are binary compounds of hydrogen with chalcogen atoms (elements of group 16: oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and polonium). Water, the first chemical compound in this series, contains one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, and is the most common compound on the Earth's surface.Interchalcogen
The chalcogens react with each other to form interchalcogen compounds.Although no chalcogen is extremely electropositive, nor quite as electronegative as the halogen fluorine (the most electronegative element), there is a large difference in electronegativity between the top (oxygen = 3.44 — the second most electronegative element after fluorine) and bottom (polonium = 2.0) of the group. Combined with the fact that there is a significant trend towards increasing metallic behaviour while descending the group (oxygen is a gaseous nonmetal, while polonium is a silvery post-transition metal), this causes the interchalcogens to display many different kinds of bonding: covalent, ionic, metallic, and semimetallic.Livermorium
Livermorium is a synthetic chemical element with symbol Lv and has an atomic number of 116. It is an extremely radioactive element that has only been created in the laboratory and has not been observed in nature. The element is named after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, which collaborated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia to discover livermorium during experiments made between 2000 and 2006. The name of the laboratory refers to the city of Livermore, California where it is located, which in turn was named after the rancher and landowner Robert Livermore. The name was adopted by IUPAC on May 30, 2012. 4 isotopes of livermorium are known, with mass numbers between 290 and 293 inclusive; the longest-lived among them is livermorium-293 with a half-life of about 60 milliseconds. A fifth possible isotope with mass number 294 has been reported but not yet confirmed.
In the periodic table, it is a p-block transactinide element. It is a member of the 7th period and is placed in group 16 as the heaviest chalcogen, although it has not been confirmed to behave as the heavier homologue to the chalcogen polonium. Livermorium is calculated to have some similar properties to its lighter homologues (oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and polonium), and be a post-transition metal, although it should also show several major differences from them.Non-proteinogenic amino acids
In biochemistry, non-coded or non-proteinogenic amino acids are those not naturally encoded or found in the genetic code of any organism.
Despite the use of only 22 amino acids (21 in eukaryotes) by the translational machinery to assemble proteins (the proteinogenic amino acids), over 140 amino acids are known to occur naturally in proteins and thousands more may occur in nature or be synthesized in the laboratory.
Many non-proteinogenic amino acids are noteworthy because they are;
intermediates in biosynthesis,
post-translationally formed in proteins,
possess a physiological role (e.g. components of bacterial cell walls, neurotransmitters and toxins),
natural or man-made pharmacological compounds,
present in meteorites and in prebiotic experiments (e.g. Miller–Urey experiment).Onium ion
In chemistry, an onium ion is a cation formally obtained by the protonation of mononuclear parent hydride of a pnictogen (group 15 of the periodic table), chalcogen (group 16), or halogen (group 17). The oldest-known onium ion, and the namesake for the class, is ammonium, NH+4, the protonated derivative of ammonia, NH3.The name onium is also used for cations that would result from the substitution of hydrogen atoms in those ions by other groups, such as organic radicals, or halogens; such as tetraphenylphosphonium, (C6H5)4P+. The substituent groups may be divalent or trivalent, yielding ions such as iminium and nitrilium.A simple onium ion has a charge of +1. A larger ion that has two onium ion subgroups is called a double onium ion, and has a charge of +2. A triple onium ion has a charge of +3, and so on.
Compounds of an onium cation and some other negative ion are known as onium compounds or onium salts.
Onium ions and onium compounds are inversely analogous to -ate ions and ate complexes:
Lewis bases form onium ions when the central atom gains one more bond and becomes a positive cation.
Lewis acids form -ate ions when the central atom gains one more bond and becomes a negative anion.Organosulfur compounds
Organosulfur compounds are organic compounds that contain sulfur. They are often associated with foul odors, but many of the sweetest compounds known are organosulfur derivatives, e.g., saccharin. Nature abounds with organosulfur compounds—sulfur is essential for life. Of the 20 common amino acids, two (cysteine and methionine) are organosulfur compounds, and the antibiotics penicillin (pictured below) and sulfa drugs both contain sulfur. While sulfur-containing antibiotics save many lives, sulfur mustard is a deadly chemical warfare agent. Fossil fuels, coal, petroleum, and natural gas, which are derived from ancient organisms, necessarily contain organosulfur compounds, the removal of which is a major focus of oil refineries.
Sulfur shares the chalcogen group with oxygen, selenium, and tellurium, and it is expected that organosulfur compounds have similarities with carbon–oxygen, carbon–selenium, and carbon–tellurium compounds.
A classical chemical test for the detection of sulfur compounds is the Carius halogen method.Phosphorus halide
There are three series of binary phosphorus halides, containing phosphorus in the oxidation states +5, +3 and +2. All compounds have been described, in varying degrees of detail, although serious doubts have been cast on the existence of PI5. Mixed chalcogen halides also exist.Polysulfane
A polysulfane is a chemical compound of formula H2Sx, where x > 1, although sometimes disulfane, H2S2 is excluded. Polysulfanes consist of unbranched chains of sulfur atoms terminated with hydrogen. Compounds containing 2–8 concatenated sulfur atoms have been isolated, longer chain compounds have been detected, but only in solution. H2S2 is colourless, higher members are yellow with the colour increasing with the sulfur content. Even a trace of alkali will cause chemical decomposition, and containers need to be treated with acid to remove any traces of alkali.
In the chemical literature the term polysulfanes is sometimes used for compounds containing −(Sn)−, e.g. organic polysulfanes R−(Sn)−R.
Since sulfur is a chalcogen, polysulfanes can be classed as hydrogen chalcogenides.Samarium monochalcogenides
Samarium monochalcogenides are chemical compounds with the composition SmX, where Sm stands for the lanthanide element samarium and X denotes any one of three chalcogen elements, sulfur, selenium or tellurium, resulting in the compounds SmS, SmSe or SmTe. In these compounds, samarium formally exhibits oxidation state +2, whereas it usually assumes the +3 state, resulting in chalcogenides with the chemical formula Sm2X3.Tellurium
Tellurium is a chemical element with symbol Te and atomic number 52. It is a brittle, mildly toxic, rare, silver-white metalloid. Tellurium is chemically related to selenium and sulfur, all three of which are chalcogens. It is occasionally found in native form as elemental crystals. Tellurium is far more common in the Universe as a whole than on Earth. Its extreme rarity in the Earth's crust, comparable to that of platinum, is due partly its formation of a volatile hydride that caused tellurium to be lost to space as a gas during the hot nebular formation of Earth, and partly to tellurium’s low affinity for oxygen that causes it to bind preferentially to other chalcophiles in dense minerals that sink into the core.
Tellurium-bearing compounds were first discovered in 1782 in a gold mine in Kleinschlatten, Transylvania (now Zlatna, Romania) by Austrian mineralogist Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, although it was Martin Heinrich Klaproth who named the new element in 1798 after the Latin word for "earth", tellus. Gold telluride minerals are the most notable natural gold compounds. However, they are not a commercially significant source of tellurium itself, which is normally extracted as a by-product of copper and lead production.
Commercially, the primary use of tellurium is copper (Tellurium Copper) and steel alloys, where it improves machinability. Applications in CdTe solar panels and Cadmium telluride semiconductors also consume a considerable portion of tellurium production. Tellurium is considered a technology-critical element.
Tellurium has no biological function, although fungi can use it in place of sulfur and selenium in amino acids such as tellurocysteine and telluromethionine. In humans, tellurium is partly metabolized into dimethyl telluride, (CH3)2Te, a gas with a garlic-like odor exhaled in the breath of victims of tellurium exposure or poisoning.Titanium diselenide
Titanium diselenide (TiSe2) also known as titanium(IV) selenide, is an inorganic compound of titanium and selenium. In this material selenium is viewed as selenide (Se2−) which requires that titanium exists as Ti4+. Titanium diselenide is a member of metal dichalcogenides, compounds that consist of a metal and an element of the chalcogen column within the periodic table. Many exhibit properties of potential value in battery technology, such as intercalation and electrical conductivity, although most applications focus on the less toxic and lighter disulfides, e.g. TiS2.Tritellurium dichloride
Tritellurium dichloride is the inorganic compound with the formula Te3Cl2. It is one of the more stable lower chlorides of tellurium.
|Periodic table forms|
|Sets of elements|
|Mixed oxidation states|
|+1 oxidation state|
|+2 oxidation state|
|+3 oxidation state|
|+4 oxidation state|
|+5 oxidation state|
|+6 oxidation state|
|+7 oxidation state|
|+8 oxidation state|
Oxides are sorted by oxidation state. Category:Oxides