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What Is A Chemical Formula? Discuss The Different Types Of Chemical Formulas?

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Every human being comes in contact with chemical substance or chemical compound in their day to day life. Take for example the detergent one uses to clean the house, or the utensils, or the clothes,  the medicines that one takes or all the food that one have  daily, all are made up of chemical compound and has a chemical formula.  These chemical compounds are made up of different atoms which are made up of different electrons, neutrons and protons arranged in a particular way. In order to find out the different properties of these chemical compounds and how the various protons, neutrons and electrons are arranged, chemical formula are required.  A compound is a substance which is composed of fixed amount of two or more different elements. A chemical formula is required to find out the number of atoms of the different elements that is present in the compound. The chemical formula has the symbol of the atoms of the different element that is there in the compound along with the number of symbols present for the different elements as the subscripts. All the different chemical substance that is present in the earth has a particular chemical formula. All are different from one another. As a result all the chemical substance has their own individual chemical formula representing their own unique property. For example while talking about the chemical formula for glucose which is C12H22O11., it can be said that twelve atoms of carbon along with twenty two atoms of hydrogen and eleven atoms of oxygen all combined to form glucose. In the same way, when the chemical formula for acetic acid or which is commonly known as vinegar is considered which is C2H302, it can be said that two atoms of carbon combine with three atoms of Hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen to form  acetic  acid or vinegar. There are different types of chemical formula. The different types of chemical formula give different type of information about the chemical substance. The various chemical formulas are molecular formula, empirical formula, structural formula.

The Molecular formula is also known as the true formula. The molecular formula informs the reader about the number of different elements which is actually present in one molecule of the chemical compound.  In a molecular formula or which is more commonly known as the actual formula, the different elements present in the chemical compound is written as the symbols given in the period table. Along with it, the numbers of atoms of each element are represented as the subscript which is the small number that is written at the lower right end of the element. Say for example when the  molecular formula of glucose is considered which is C6H12O6, it can be considered that six atoms of carbon combined with twelve atoms of hydrogen and six atoms of oxygen to form one molecule of  glucose. In a similar way, when the molecular formula of Butane is considered that is C4H10, it can be understood that four atoms of carbons combined with ten atoms of hydrogen to from one molecule of Butane. Butane is an organic alkaline gas compound present at a room temperature and atmospheric temperature.

While talking about the Empirical formula, the term Empirical means something that has verified by experiments. In Chemistry branch of Science, the scientists usually verify facts with the help of experiments. The Empirical formula can be said as the “simplest ratio of whole numbers of the various elements that the chemical compound is generally made up of”. The Empirical formulas is generally calculated through the various experimental data. Chemical formula can be simplified in a similar way the various numbers are simplified or divided during the sums on fraction in a mathematics class. For example, when chemical compound such as glucose is considered, C6H12O6, which means there are six atoms of carbon combined with twelve atoms of hydrogen and six atoms of oxygen to form one molecule of glucose. As mentioned earlier, the molecular formula usually helps the reader to determine the actual number of the atoms that are there in the various element of a molecule of a chemical compound, while Empirical formula is usual determined to find out the simplest ratio of the number of atoms of the elements and not the actual number of atoms of elements in a chemical compound.  So when the molecular formula for glucose is considered, it is  C6H12O6 where six atoms of carbon combines with twelve atoms of hydrogen and six atoms of oxygen to from one atom of glucose. While considering the empirical formula for glucose it is CH2O , which is one atom of carbon combines with two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen to from glucose. In Empirical formula, the subscripts are divided by the greatest common factor (GCF). In case of Glucose it is 6. And as a result, the Empirical formula as mentioned earlier is CH2O.Similay as mentioned earlier, the molecular formula for the organic alkaline gas compound Butane is  C4H10, where four atoms of carbons combined with ten atoms of hydrogen to from one molecule of Butane. When the Empirical formula for Butane is considered it is C2H5. It implies that two atoms of carbon combine with five atoms of Hydrogen to from Butane.   The Subscripts 4 and 10 are reduced by the greatest common factor (GCF) that is 2 in this case. Many a time the molecular formula for the chemical compound is already at its lowest denominator, simplest ratio and hence cannot be reduced future in Empirical formula. For example, In Ethanol the molecular formula is C2H6O, which implies two atoms of carbon combined with six atoms of hydrogen and an atom of oxygen to from one molecule of Ethanol. Since the subscripts cannot be reduced future to a lower denominator, the Empirical formula for Ethanol is also C2H6O,   

The structural formula for a chemical compound shows the original number of atoms of the various elements that are already there in a chemical compound. Along with the way the different atoms are placed and bonded in a chemical compound. For example the structural formula for Ethane is

 

Fig 1: Ethane Molecular Structure

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