Chemistry question involving lattice energy?

NetherCraft 0

The chloride of which of the following metals should have the greatest lattice energy?

A) potassium

B) rubidium

C) sodium

D) lithium

E) cesium

I know the answer is D, but why?

1 Answer

  • The lattice energy of an ionic solid is directly proportional to the charges on the ions in the solid and inversely proportional to the equilibrium distance between their nuclei (internuclear distance). This is a direct result of Coulomb’s electrostatic force law. Since all of the metals in the list are alkali metals and form +1 cations, we know that the differences in lattice energies have to do with internuclear distance. A good approximation for this distance is simply the sum of the radii of the cation and the anion. Consequently, for ions of the same charge, crystals with smaller ions will have higher lattice energies. Lithium is the smallest of the alkali metals, which explains why lithium chloride has the highest lattice energy of the alkali metal chlorides.

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