Science, Tech, Math › Science Amphoteric Oxide Definition and Examples What You Need to Know About Amphoterism Share Flipboard Email Print Copper oxide is an example of an amphoteric oxide. DEA/A.RIZZI / Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated August 08, 2018 An amphoteric oxide is an oxide that can act as either an acid or base in a reaction to produce a salt and water. Amphoterism depends on the oxidation states available to a chemical species. Because metals have multiple oxidation states, they form amphoteric oxides and hydroxides. Amphoteric Oxide Examples Metals that display amphoterism include copper, zinc, lead, tin, beryllium, and aluminum. Al2O3 is an amphoteric oxide. When reacted with HCl, it acts as a base to form the salt AlCl3. When reacted with NaOH, it acts as an acid to form NaAlO2.Typically, oxides of medium electronegativity are amphoteric. Amphiprotic Molecules Amphiprotic molecules are a type of amphoteric species that donate or accept H+ or a proton. Examples of amphiprotic species include water (which is self-ionizable) as well as proteins and amino acids (which have carboxylic acid and amine groups). For example, the hydrogen carbonate ion can act as an acid: HCO3− + OH− → CO32− + H2O or as a base: HCO3− + H3O+ → H2CO3 + H2O Keep in mind, while all amphiprotic species are amphoteric, not all amphoteric species are amphiprotic. An example is zinc oxide, ZnO, which does not contain a hydrogen atom and cannot donate a proton. The Zn atom can act as a Lewis acid to accept an electron pair from OH−. Related Terms The word "amphoteric" derives from the Greek word amphoteroi, which means "both". The terms amphichromatic and amphichromic are related, which apply to an acid-base indicator that yields one color when reacted with an acid and a different color when reacted with a base. Uses of Amphoteric Species Amphoteric molecules that have both acidic and basic groups are called ampholytes. They are primarily found as zwitterions over a certain pH range. Ampholytes may be used in isoelectric focusing to maintain a stable pH gradient.