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Stoichiometry (pronounced /ˌstɔɪkiˈɒmɨtri/, STOY-kee-AHM-ə-tree) is a branch of chemistry that deals with the quantitative relationships that exist between the reactants and products in chemical reactions. In a balanced chemical reaction, the relations among quantities of reactants and products typically form a ratio of whole numbers. For example, in a reaction that forms ammonia (NH3), exactly one molecule of nitrogen (N2) reacts with three molecules of hydrogen (H2) to produce two molecules of NH3:

Stoichiometry can be used to calculate quantities such as the amount of products that can be produced with given reactants and percent yield (the percentage of the given reactant that is made into the product). Stoichiometry calculations can predict how elements and components diluted in a standard solution react in experimental conditions. Stoichiometry is founded on the law of conservation of mass: the mass of the reactants equals the mass of the products.

While almost all reactions have integer-ratio stoichiometry in amount of matter units (moles, number of particles), some nonstoichiometric compounds are known that cannot be represented by a ratio of well-defined natural numbers. These materials therefore violate the law of definite proportions that forms the basis of stoichiometry along with the law of multiple proportions.

Reaction stoichiometry describes the quantitative relationships among substances as they participate in chemical reactions. In the example above, reaction stoichiometry describes the 1:3:2 ratio of molecules of nitrogen, hydrogen, and ammonia.

Composition stoichiometry describes the quantitative (mass) relationships among elements in compounds. For example, composition stoichiometry describes the nitrogen to hydrogen (mass) relationship in the compound ammonia: ie., one mole of nitrogren and three moles of hydrogen are in every mole of ammonia.

A stoichiometric amount or stoichiometric ratio of a reagent is the amount or ratio where, assuming that the reaction proceeds to completion:

Reactions occur only in stoichiometric ratios, thus a nonstoichiometric mixture, where reactions have gone to completion, will have the only limiting reagent consumed completely.

Gas stoichiometry deals with reactions involving gases, where the gases are at a known temperature, pressure, and volume, and can be assumed to be ideal gases. For gases, the volume ratio is ideally the same by the ideal gas law, but the mass ratio of a single reaction has to be calculated from the molecular masses of the reactants and products. In practice, due to the existence of isotopes, molar masses are used instead when calculating the mass ratio.


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