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Ions are nothing more than atoms or molecules that have gained or lost an electron. Those that have lost an electron are called positive ions, while those that have gained and electron are negative ions. Ions are formed when an electron is detached from a neutral molecule ( or atom). The molecule losing an electron becomes a positive ion and the molecule gaining and electron becomes a negative ion.

History of Ions

The word ion is the Greek word for going, this term was introduced by English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday in 1834 for the then-unknown species that goes from one electrode to the other through a medium. Faraday did not know the nature of these species, but he knew that since metals dissolved into and entered solution at one electrode, and new metal came forward from a solution at the other electrode, that some kind of substance moved through the solution in a current, conveying matter from one place to the other.
Faraday also introduced the words anion for a negatively charged ion, and cation for a positively charged one. Faraday's cations were named because they were attracted to the cathode in a galvanic device and anions were named due to their attraction to the anode.

Application of Ions

An example is an ordinary table salt which is made up of positive sodium ions (Na+) and negative chlorine ions(Cl). Solutions of such solids in water also contain ions.


  1. Beiser, A. (1988). Physical Science (2nd Edition) . New York, NY: McGraw Hill
  2. (
  3. (Ref #3 - from book, library, journal)

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