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Homework Help: Acid Strength Group 6

  1. Dec 7, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    What is the strongest acid among the following: H2O, H2S, H2Se, H2Te

    2. The attempt at a solution
    I noticed they are in the same group so I think the idea is to pick the compound with the group 6 element that is largest in atomic size...I think it's H2Te because atomic size increases as you go down a group in the periodic table, and the heavier the atom the greater tenancy it will have to dissociate in a given group. Is this correct?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, H2Te is the most acidic. Easy to check - google for first dissociation constants of all four compounds.

    If nothing else works, stick to facts ;)
  4. Dec 7, 2014 #3
    Thanks for the tip, I thought it'd be easy to google and tried but wasn't sure what to search... dissociation constants is a good idea.
  5. Dec 7, 2014 #4


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    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You can google the substances themselves. Then there are lots of tables. Here is one specifically referring to your question. http://www.chemrat.com/ChemHog2/Organic Chem_files/pKtrends.doc. You have to know what pK means, but it you haven't done it, it suffices that it is the pH at which the acid is half-dissociated. But then you have to know what pH means.

    So we'd class H2Se as a weakish acid a bit more acidic than acetic. H2Te is getting to be strongish. This may be the first and last time you meet it. And even H2Se not often. The real thing you're likely to met later is that H2S is a weak acid as are very many common RSH ((sulphydryl aka thiols aka mercaptans) which include important biological molecules like the amino acid cysteine. Their dissociation occurs over the neutral or physiological range, pK's round 6.75 - 8. Weak acids but much stronger than the corresponding alcohols.

    If the rationalisations you are expected to learn about factors of acid strength make sense, OK, whenever they don't, don't worry, because the ones that have got fossilised in textbooks are all inadequate less-than-half truths that leave out the fundamental role of the solvent.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
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