An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass ("go") between electrodes in a solution, when an electric field is applied. It is from Greek ιον, meaning "going." The word ion also is responsible for electrical current being symbolized by the letter i in chemistry and physics.
An anion (pronounced /ˈæn.aɪ.ən/ AN-eye-ən), from the Greek word ἄνω (ánō), meaning "up", is an ion with more electrons than protons, giving it a net negative charge (since electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged). Conversely, a cation (pronounced /ˈkæt.aɪ.ən/ KAT-eye-ən), from the Greek word κατά (katá), meaning "down", is an ion with fewer electrons than protons, giving it a positive charge. Since the charge on a proton is equal in magnitude to the charge on an electron, the net charge on an ion is equal to the number of protons in the ion minus the number of electrons.
An ion consisting of a single atom is an atomic or monatomic ion; if it consists of two or more atoms, it is a molecular or polyatomic ion.
Example Hydrogen atom (center) contains a single proton and a single electron. Removal of the electron gives a cation (left), whereas addition of an electron gives an anion (right). The hydrogen anion, with its loosely held two-electron cloud, has a larger radius than the neutral atom, which in turn is much larger than the bare proton of the cation. Hydrogen forms the only cation that has no electrons, but even cations that (unlike hydrogen) still retain one or more electrons, are still smaller than the neutral atoms or molecules from which they are derived. History and Discovery
Etymologically the word ion is the Greek ιον (going), the present participle of ιεναι, ienai, "to go." This term was introduced by English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday in 1834 for the (then unknown) species that goes from one electrode to the other through an aqueous medium. Faraday did not know the nature of these species, but he knew that since metals dissolved into and entered solution at one electrode, and new metal came forth from solution at the other electrode, that some kind of substance moved through the solution in a current, conveying matter from one place to the other.
Faraday also introduced the words anion and cation. In Faraday's nomenclature, cations were named because they were attracted to the anode in a galvanic device and anions were named due to their attraction to the cathode. Characteristics
Ions in their gas-like state are highly reactive, and do not occur in large amounts on Earth, except in flames, lightning, electrical sparks, and other plasmas. These gas-like ions rapidly interact with ions of opposite charge to give neutral molecules or ionic salts. Ions are also produced in the liquid or solid state when salts interact with solvents (for example, water) to produce "solvated ions," which are more stable, for reasons involving a combination of energy and entropy changes as the ions move away from each other to interact with the liquid. These stabilized species are more commonly found in the environment at low temperatures. A common example is the ions present in seawater, which are derived from the dissolved salts there.
All ions are charged, which means that like all charged objects they are:
attracted to opposite electric charges (positive to negative, and vice versa), repelled by like charges, and
when moving, travel in trajectories that are deflected by a magnetic field.
Electrons, due to their smaller mass and thus larger space-filling properties as matter waves, determine the size of atoms and molecules that possess any electrons at all. Thus, anions (negatively charged ions) are larger than the parent molecule or atom, as the excess...
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