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When reading Section 8.17, I was wondering what the text meant by "the most stable form of each element" in terms of the standard enthalpies of formation. Does this mean the element's most simplest form? I was wondering if someone can clarify this concept or provide another definition to the idea of stability.
I think the most stable form of an element is the stablest configuration it can be found in, without it losing its purity. For example, Helium is most stable as a single atom, while Oxygen is most stable as a diatomic gas. Each of these are the stablest forms of their respective elements.
I believe the most stable form of an element is, similar to what is stated above, the purest state of the element. The book also states that graphite is the most stable form of carbon at normal temperatures. This relates to the idea that the enthalpy of formation of graphite is zero, while the enthalpy of formation of an element in a form that is not the most stable (for example, diamond) is not equal to zero. To generalize from this example, the standard enthalpy of formation should equal zero for an element in its most stable form.
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