What is an ion?

Compounds composed of metals and nonmetals contain charged species. The charged species are known as ions. An ion is a charged particle and can be negatively or positively charged. A negatively charged ion is called an ‘anion’ and the positively charged ion, a ‘cation’. Take, for example, sodium chloride (NaCl). Its constituent particles are positively charged sodium ions (Na+) and negatively charged chloride ions (Cl-). Ions may consist of a single charged atom or a group of atoms that have a net charge on them. A group of atoms carrying a charge is known as a polyatomic ion.

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