Environmental groups call for speed limits on ships

Environmental groups Seas At Risk and Transport and Environment have announced the results of a study they commissioned to Reynolds Environmental Sustainability Consultants (RESC). A paper written by the team at RESC has ...

Microrobots clean up radioactive waste

According to some experts, nuclear power holds great promise for meeting the world's growing energy demands without generating greenhouse gases. But scientists need to find a way to remove radioactive isotopes, both from ...

Insulating antiferromagnetic materials for future computers

Future computer technology based on insulating antiferromagnets is progressing. Electrically insulating antiferromagnets such as iron oxide and nickel oxide consist of microscopic magnets with opposite orientations. Researchers ...

Living on the edge: How a 2-D material got its shape

Ever since its discovery in 2004, graphene—an atomically thin material with amazing strength and electrical properties—has inspired scientists around the world to design new 2-D materials to serve a broad range of applications, ...

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An oxide ( /ˈɒksaɪd/) is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom in its chemical formula. Metal oxides typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2.

Most of the Earth's crust consists of solid oxides. Oxides result when elements are oxidized by oxygen in air. Combustion of hydrocarbons affords the two principal oxides of carbon, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Even materials that are considered to be pure elements often contain a coating of oxides. For example, aluminium foil has a thin skin of Al2O3 that protects the foil from further corrosion.

Virtually all elements burn in an atmosphere of oxygen, or an oxygen rich environment. In the presence of water and oxygen (or simply air), some elements—lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, caesium, strontium and barium—react rapidly, even dangerously, to give the hydroxides. In part for this reason, alkali and alkaline earth metals are not found in nature in their metallic, i.e., native, form. Caesium is so reactive with oxygen that it is used as a getter in vacuum tubes, and solutions of potassium and sodium, so called NaK are used to deoxygenate and dehydrate some organic solvents. The surface of most metals consists of oxides and hydroxides in the presence of air. A well known example is aluminium foil, which is coated with a thin film of aluminium oxide that passivates the metal, slowing further corrosion. The aluminium oxide layer can be built to greater thickness by the process of electrolytic anodising. Although solid magnesium and aluminium react slowly with oxygen at STP, they, like most metals, will burn in air, generating very high temperatures. Finely grained powders of most metals can be dangerously explosive in air. Consequently, they are often used in Solid-fuel rockets.

In dry oxygen, iron readily forms iron(II) oxide, but the formation of the hydrated ferric oxides, Fe2O3−2x(OH)x, that mainly comprise rust, typically requires oxygen and water. The production of free oxygen by photosynthetic bacteria some 3.5 billion years ago precipitated iron out of solution in the oceans as Fe2O3 in the economically important iron ore hematite.

Due to its electronegativity, oxygen forms chemical bonds with almost all elements to give the corresponding oxides. Noble metals (such as gold or platinum) resist direct chemical combination with oxygen, and substances like gold(III) oxide must be generated by indirect routes.

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