Saturday, 8 November 2008

The World's Strongest Acid

None of the  strong acids traditionally listed in a chemistry text holds the title of World's Strongest Acid. The record-holder used to be fluorosulfuric acid (HFSO3), but the carborane superacids are hundreds of times stronger than fluorosulfuric acid and over a million times stronger than concentrated sulfuric acid. The superacids readily release protons, which is a slightly different criterion for acid strength than the ability to dissociate to release a H+ ion (a proton).

Strong Is Different from Corrosive

The carborane acids are incredible proton donors, yet they are not highly corrosive. Corrosiveness is related to the negatively-charged part of the acid. Hydrofluoric acid (HF), for example, is so corrosve it dissolves glass. The fluoride ion attacks the silicon atom in silica glass while the proton is interacting with oxygen. Even though it is highly corrosive, hydrofluoric acid is not considered to be a strong acid because it does not completely dissociate in water.


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