Do the Noble Gases Form Chemical Compounds?

This is the chemical structure of xenon hexafluoride, an example of a noble gas compound.
NEUROtiker, public domain

The noble gases do form chemical compounds, even though they have filled electron valence shells. Here is a look at how they form compounds and some examples.

How Noble Gases Form Compounds

Helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, radon have completed valence electron shells, so they are highly stable. The filled inner electron shells tend to provide a sort of electrical shielding, making it possible to ionize the outer electrons. Under ordinary conditions, noble gases are inert and don't form compounds, but when ionized or under pressure, they will sometimes working into the matrix of another molecule or combine with highly reactive ions. Reaction with halogens is most favorable, where the noble gas loses an electron and acts as a positively charged ion to form a compound.

Examples of Noble Gas Compounds

Many types of noble gas compounds are theoretically possible. This list includes compounds which have been observed:

  • noble gas halides (e.g., xenon hexafluoride - XeF6, krypton fluoride - KrF2)
  • noble gas clathrates and clathrate hydrates (e.g., Ar, Kr, and Xe clathrates with β-quinol, 133Xe clathrate)
  • noble gas coordination compounds
  • noble gas hydrates (e.g., Xe·6H2O)
  • helium hydride ion - HeH+
  • oxyfluorides (e.g., XeOF2, XeOF4, XeO2F2, XeO3F2, XeO2F4)
  • HArF
  • xenon hexafluoroplatinate (XeFPtF6 and XeFPt2F11)
  • fullerene compounds (e.g., He@C60 and Ne@C60)

Uses of Noble Gas Compounds

Presently most noble gas compounds are used to help store noble gases at high density or as potent oxidizers. The oxidizers are useful for applications where it is important to avoid introducing impurities into a reaction. When the compound participates in a reaction, the inert noble gas is released.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Do the Noble Gases Form Chemical Compounds?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, February 16). Do the Noble Gases Form Chemical Compounds? Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Do the Noble Gases Form Chemical Compounds?" ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).