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Metal oxides are binary compounds of oxygen with a metal. Inorganic oxides can be prepared by direct heating of elements with oxygen, reaction of oxygen with compounds at high temperatures, or oxidation of metals and non-metals with nitric acid. In the periodic table, the oxides of elements in a period become progressively more acidic from left to right; basic oxides are present on the left side and acidic oxides are found on the right side of the periodic table.

Inorganic oxides are classified into acidic or basic based on their acid-base characteristics:

  • Acidic oxides produce an acid when combined with water. Examples of acid oxides are sulfurous acid, carbonic acid, and sulfuric acid. Acid oxides are also known as acid anhydrides.
  • Basic oxides produce a base in water. Generally, Group I and II elements form basic oxides. Examples of basic oxides are copper(II) oxide, magnesium oxide, and aluminum oxide.
  • Amphoteric oxides are metallic oxides which show both basic and acidic properties. When they react with an acid, they produce salt and water, exhibiting basic properties. While reacting with bases they form salt and water, exhibiting acidic properties. A common example of an amphoteric oxide is aluminum oxide.
  • Neutral oxides show neither basic nor acidic properties and do not form salts when reacted with acids or bases. Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous oxide (N2O), and nitric oxide (NO) are neutral oxides.

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers a wide range of metal oxides for use in a variety of research and development applications.

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