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Answered 2013-02-20 19:22:32

No. It must be a whole number.

Since the empirical formula of a compound shows the proportions of the elements in the simplest whole number ratio there is going to be at least one odd number in the formula. Multiplying by 2.5 would then result in you having half an atom somewhere in the molecule, which you can't really have.

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No. A molecular formula can be the same as the empirical formula, such as CH4 (methane), because the two component atoms exist in a ratio that cannot be mathematically further broken down - one carbon to four hydrogens. In this case the molecular formula (the actual number of atoms per molecule), and the empirical formula (the simplest ratio of those numbers) is identical. On the other hand, ethane, C2H6 - two carbons to 6 hydrogens - has a molecular formula of C2H6 and a empirical formula of CH3, the ratio of 2 to 6 reduced to its simplest whole number form. Sooooooooooo, the molecular formula will always be equal to or greater than the empirical formula, and the empirical formula will always be equal to or less than the molecular formula. In other words (as if that wasn't enough), the molecular formula will never be less than the empirical formula and the empirical formula will never be greater than the molecular formula, but THE TWO CAN BE EQUAL. Whew!!! Ray


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