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What gives elements (or compounds) their properties?
for example why does Hydrogen sulfide smell so bad, or is carbon monoxide toxic, and yet carbon dioxide isn't? or why is there colour in some but not in others?
asked in chemisty, science
The properties of the elements are determined by their atomic structure ie the number of protons, electrons and neutrons they possess in each atom.
Compounds are far more complex because they are composed of two or more different atoms in varying proportions. This means that their properties are determined by the complex interactions of the different atoms that compose them and how the charges on the the sub-atomic particles (protons, electrons & neutrons) are shared and distributed. For example two highly reactive elements – chlorine and sodium – combine to form the very stable sodium chloride. On the other hand the two odourless elements, hydrogen and sulphur, can combine to form hydrogen sulphide the reactive smelly compound you exemplify in your question.
I think you will need to research each compound individually to discover what gives each their properties. For example this Wiki entry goes into some detail about the atomic charges that determine the reactivity of carbon monoxide.
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