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Glossary


oxidation number


The oxidation number of an element in any chemical entity is the number of charges which would remain on a given atom if the pairs of electrons in each bond to that atom were assigned to the more electronegative member of the bond pair. The oxidation (Stock) number of an element is indicated by a roman numeral placed in parentheses immediately following the name (modified if necessary by an appropriate ending) of the element to which it refers. The oxidation number may be positive, negative or zero. Zero, not a roman numeral, is represented by the usual cipher, 0. The positive sign is never used. An oxidation number is always positive unless the minus sign is explicitly used. Note that it cannot be non-integral (see also mixed valency). Non-integral numbers may seem appropriate in some cases where a charge is spread over more than one atom, but such a use is not encouraged. In such ambiguous cases, the charge number, which designates ionic charge, can be used. A charge (Ewens-Bassett) number is a number in parentheses written without a space immediately after the name of an ion, and whose magnitude is the ionic charge. Thus the number may refer to cations or anions, but never to neutral species. The charge is written in arabic numerals and followed by the sign of the charge. In a coordination entity, the oxidation number of the central atom is defined as the charge it would bear if all the ligands were removed along with the electron pairs that were shared with the central atom. Neutral ligands are formally removed in their closed-shell configurations. Where it is not feasible or reasonable to define an oxidation state for each individual member of a group or cluster, it is again recommended that the overall oxidation level of the group be defined by a formal ionic charge, the net charge on the coordination entity.


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