How do isotopes differ chemically?

1 Answer
Jan 31, 2016

Isotopes are usually chemically identical. They are not physically identical.


Because the mass differential between hydrogen, #""^1H#, and deuterium, #""^2H#, is VERY high, isotopic labelling of hydrogen nuclei can give rise to a measurable kinetic isotope effect (on which I will not elaborate). For isotopes of other elements, the mass differential is no so great, and isotopes are identical chemically.

Mass spectroscopy can be a very useful way to distinguish between the so-called isotopomers.