cation

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Cation

A cation is any atom or group of atoms that has a net positive charge. While matter is electrically neutral overall, ionic compounds are matter composed of positively and negatively charged particles called ions any atom or group of atoms with an overall electrical charge. According to the laws of physics, opposite charges attract, so the oppositely charged ions attract each other to form compounds that are, overall, electrically neutral. In such compounds, the number of positive charges on the cations equal the number of negative charges. Ions with an overall negative charge are called anions. Compounds composed of both cations and anions, such as table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) and potash (potassium carbonate, K2 CO3), are ionic compounds.

Cations are formed when an atom or group of atom loses one or more electrons, producing more protons than electrons and resulting in an overall positive charge. (Each proton has a +1 charge, and each electron has a -1 charge. In normal atoms, the number of protons equals the number of electrons, so a normal atom has an overall charge of zero. We say it is electrically neutral.) Anions, on the other hand, are formed when an atom or group of atoms accepts one or more electrons, so it has more negative than positive charges. Most metallic elements react chemically to form cations, losing electrons. Most nonmetallic elements react chemically to gain electrons, forming anions.

See also Anion.

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Cation

A cation is any atom or group of atoms that has a net positive charge. While matter is electrically neutral overall, ionic compounds are matter that is composed of positively-charged and negatively-charged particles called ions. An ion is any atom or group of atoms with an overall electrical charge. According to the laws of physics , opposite charges attract, so the oppositelycharged ions attract each other to form compounds that are, overall, electrically neutral. In such compounds, the number of positive charges on the cations is equal to the number of negative charges. Species that have an overall negative charge are called anions. Compounds that are composed of cations and anions are called ionic compounds. Examples include table salt (sodium chloride ) and potash (potassium carbonate).

Cations are formed when an atom or group of atom loses one or more electrons. The resulting species has more protons than electrons, so it has an overall positive charge. (Each proton has a +1 charge, and each electron has a -1 charge. In normal atoms, the number of protons equals the number of electrons, so a normal atom has an overall charge of zero . We say it is electrically neutral.) On the other hand, anions are formed when an atom or group of atoms accepts one or more electrons, so it has more negative charges than positive charges. Most metallic elements react chemically to form cations, losing electrons. Most nonmetallic elements react chemically to gain electrons, thereby forming anions.

See also Anion.

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cation (kăt´ī´ən), atom or group of atoms carrying a positive charge. The charge results because there are more protons than electrons in the cation. Cations can be formed from a metal by oxidation (see oxidation and reduction), from a neutral base (see acids and bases) by protonation, or from a polar compound by ionization. Cationic species include Na+, Mg++, and NH4+. The cations of the transition elements have characteristic colors in water solution. Salts are made up of cations and anions. See ion.

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cat·i·on / ˈkatˌīən; -ˌīˌän/ • n. Chem. a positively charged ion, i.e., one that would be attracted to the cathode in electrolysis. The opposite of anion. DERIVATIVES: cat·i·on·ic / ˌkatīˈänik/ adj.

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cation A positive ion, i.e. an atom, or complex of atoms, that has lost one or more electrons and is left with an overall positive electric charge, e.g. Na+, Mg2+, NH4+. The name is derived from the fact that when an electric current is passed through a conducting solution the positive ions present in the solution move towards the cathode (the negative electrode). Compare ANION.

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cation (electr.) a positive ion moving towards the cathode during electrolysis. XIX. — Gr. katión, f. CATA- 1 + ION; cf. CATHODE.

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cation (kat-I-ŏn) n. a positively charged ion, which moves towards the cathode (negative electrode) when an electric current is passed through the solution containing it. Compare anion.

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cation Positive ion that is attracted to the cathode during electrolysis.

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cation An ion that carries a positive electrical charge (e.g. the metallic element of salt compounds). A cation can combine with certain anions (which have negative charges).