Metal oxides are obtained as crystalline solids and contain a metal cation and an oxide anion. It reacts with water to form bases or with acids to form salts. The alkali metals and alkaline-earth metals form three different types of binary oxygen compounds:
(1) Oxides, containing oxide ions, O2−,
(2) Peroxides, containing peroxide ions, O22−, which contain oxygen-oxygen covalent single bonds, and
(3) Superoxides, containing superoxide ions, O2−, which also have oxygen-oxygen covalent bonds but with one fewer negative charge than peroxide ions.
Alkali metals (which have a +1 oxidation state) form oxides (M2O), peroxides (M2O2), and superoxides (MO2). M always represents a metal atom and the alkaline-earth metals (with a +2 oxidation state) form only oxides (MO), and peroxides (MO2). All the alkali metal oxides can be prepared by heating the corresponding metal nitrate with the elemental metal.
2MNO3 + 10M + heat → 6M2O + N2.
Preparation of the alkaline-earth metal oxides or metal oxide can be done by heating the metal carbonates.
MCO3 + heat → MO + CO2
Both alkali metal oxides and alkaline-earth metal oxides are ionic and react with water to form basic solutions of the metal hydroxide.
M2O + H2O → 2MOH
(Where M = group 1 metal)MO + H2O → M (OH)2 (where M = group 2 metal).
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Oxides of the transition metals with oxidation numbers of +1, +2, and +3 are ionic compounds consisting of metal ions and oxide ions. Those transitions metal oxides with oxidation numbers +4, +5, +6, and +7 behave as covalent compounds containing covalent metal-oxygen bonds. As per the general rule, the ionic transition metal oxides are basic hence it is reacting with aqueous acids to form solutions of salts and water; for example,
CoO + 2H3O+ → Co2+ + 3H2O.
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The magnetic properties found in metal oxides include ferro, ferri or antiferromagnetic behavior. Other classes of materials within the metal oxides family are the cuprate superconductors, the magnetoresistance, or multiferroics combining ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism within the same material (BiFeO3, BiMnO3). This exceptionally broad spectrum of properties makes metal oxides vital constituents in technological applications like gas sensing, medical science, electronics, ceramics energy conversion and storage.