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Determination of oxidation numbers in caffeine

  1. Feb 22, 2013 #1
    Hi,
    The formula of caffeine is C8H10N4O2. The oxidation numbers of O & H are -2 & +1 according to the book. How do I determine the oxidation numbers of C or N.

    Note: The substance is a molecular substance so we cannot apply the following rule: "the oxidation number of an atom in a monatomic ion is the charge of the monatomic ion"

    How do I determine the oxidation numbers of C or N? Can someone please help me out?


    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2013 #2

    Borek

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    Staff: Mentor

    It depends on the structure - there is no way of assigning ON to carbon atoms just by looking at the molecular formula.
     
  4. Feb 22, 2013 #3
    Thanks, so could you please explain how it would be possible to determine those oxidation numbers?
     
  5. Feb 22, 2013 #4

    Borek

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    Staff: Mentor

    You can calculate an oxidation number for a carbon atom as equal to the number of bonds to O, N (or halogen) minus the number of bonds to H.

    Please note ON don't reflect any real (measurable) property of an atom, they are just accounting device used to balance redox reactions. Don't treat them too seriously.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2013 #5
    Ok Thanks for the help, They are just a hypothetical charge.
     
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