What is the formula for dinitrogen tetroxide?

1 Answer
Aug 7, 2017




We're asked to find the molecular formula of dinitrogen tetroxide.

This is a compound of nitrogen and oxygen (two nonmetals), so we speculate that it is a covalent compound (the prefixes also indicate it is a covalent compound).

Nomenclature of chemical compounds is a fundamental aspect of chemistry, and for binary (two-element) covalent compounds like dinitrogen tetroxide, what we do is examine the prefixes:


The prefix in front of nitrogen is di-, so according to the above image, we know that there are #color(red)("two nitrogen atoms"# in the compound.

The prefix in front of the oxide (oxygen) species is tetra- (the "a" is left off if oxygen is the second element), so there are #color(blue)("four oxygen atoms"# in the compound.

We put the numbers of each element as subscripts of the element's symbol, so the formula is

#ulbar(|stackrel(" ")(" "color(red)("N"_2)color(blue)("O"_4)" ")|)#