Sunday, January 23, 2011


The chalcogens are the chemical elements in group 16 (old-style: VIB or VIA) of the periodic table. This group is also known as the oxygen family. It consists of the elements oxygen (O), sulfur (S), selenium (Se), tellurium (Te), the radioactive element polonium (Po), and the synthetic element ununhexium (Uuh).

Although all group 16 elements of the periodic table, including oxygen are defined as chalcogens, oxygen and oxides are usually distinguished from chalcogens and chalcogenides. The term chalcogenide is more commonly reserved for sulfides, selenides, and tellurides, rather than for oxides. Oxides are usually not indicated as chalcogenides. Binary compounds of the chalcogens are called chalcogenides (rather than chalcides; however, this breaks the pattern of halogen/halide and pnictogen/pnictide).

Although the word "chalcogen" is literally taken from Greek words being "copper-former," the meaning is more in line with "copper-ore former" or more generally, "ore-former." These electronegative elements are strongly associated with metal-bearing minerals, where they have formed water-insoluble compounds with the metals in the ores.

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