Allotropes, Polymorphs, and Isomerism oh my

The term allotrope is one of the most vaguely defined chemical terms still in current use. I can understand how one could call the various forms of sulfur (ie. rhombic and monoclinic) as distinct allotropes. But 2 chemical species that can’t be transformed into each other by physical means just don’t seem to garner the right to be called an allotrope. This issue was recently brought up by Fritnat, http://www.chemicalforums.com/index.php?topic=8500.0, when he advocated ozone should be called oxygen since it is an “allotrope” of diatomic oxygen.

At any rate you can read more about the wonderful world of allotropism in a recent article by William B. Jensen, http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/Journal/Issues/2006/Jun/abs838.html. It’s a very short read and packed with a historical perspective on the use of the word allotrope. Eventhough, Mr. Jensen never replied to a comment I sent him, I would still recommend everyone read this article. Wink

Mitch

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