Hydrogen polyoxide

Chemical structure of water, the simplest hydrogen polyoxide

Hydrogen polyoxides (also known as oxidanes, oxohydrogens, or oxyhydrogens) are chemical compounds that consist only of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, are bonded exclusively by single bonds (i.e., they are saturated), and are acyclic (have molecular structures containing no cycles or loops). They can, therefore, be classed as hydrogen chalcogenides.

The simplest possible hydrogen polyoxide (the parent molecule) is water, H2O. The general structure of the class of molecules is some number of oxygen atoms single-bonded to each other in a chain. The oxygen atom at each end of this oxygen skeleton is attached to a hydrogen atom. Thus, these compounds form a homologous series with chemical formula H
in which the members differ by a constant relative molecular mass of 16 (the mass of each additional oxygen atom). The number of oxygen atoms is used to define the size of the hydrogen polyoxide (e.g., hydrogen pentoxide contains a five-oxygen backbone).

An oxidanyl group is a functional group or side-chain, that like a hydrogen polyoxide, consists solely of single-bonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms: for example, a hydroxy (oxidyl) or hydroperoxy (dioxidanyl) group.

Specific examples

Hydrogen polyoxides containing up to five oxygen atoms have been produced experimentally.

Hydrogen polyoxides containing up to 10 oxygen atoms have been studied theoretically, but those containing more than five oxygens are expected to be extremely unstable.[3]


All the hydrogen polyoxides are known or expected to autoionise when in liquid form, with the acidic hydrogen being solvated by other of the neutral polyoxide molecule(s).

H2On H+ + HOn
2H2On H3On + HOn

See also


  1. 1 2 Levanov, Alexander V.; Sakharov, Dmitri V.; Dashkova, Anna V.; Antipenko, Ewald E.; Lunin, Valeri V. (2011). "Synthesis of Hydrogen Polyoxides H2O4 and H2O3 and Their Characterization by Raman Spectroscopy". European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry: 5144–5150. doi:10.1002/ejic.201100767.
  2. Xin Xu and William A. Goddard III. Peroxonechemistry: Formation of H2O3 and ring-(HO2)(HO3) from O3/H2O2
  3. Martins-Costa, Marilia; Anglada, Josep M.; Ruiz-Lopez, Manuel F. "Structure, stability, and dynamics of hydrogen polyoxides". International Journal of Quantum Chemistry. 111: 1543–1554. doi:10.1002/qua.22695.
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