The Science of Existence (64-1) Ions


The bottom line of a ‘normal’ atom is no charge: the positive protons and negative electrons balance out. Thankfully, ionic heretics are everywhere.


The removal of an electron from the surface of an atom – that is, the ionization of the atom – means a fundamental structural change in its surface layer. ~ German physicist Johannes Stark

An ion is an atom or molecule with an electrical imbalance owing to an unequal number of protons and electrons. Ions are promoters of chemical reactions.

Gaseous ions are highly reactive. They relatively rare on Earth: appearing only in flames, lightning, sparks, and other plasmas. The energy required to remove electrons from gaseous atoms or ions is termed ionization energy or ionization potential.

Liquid or solid-state ions naturally occur when salts interact with a solvent, such as water, and are more stable than gaseous ions, owing to energy and entropy changes as ions move away from each other to interact with the liquid (or solid). Stabilized ions are commonly found at low temperatures, such as in dissolved salts in cold seawater.