Science Questions

Which is a colder liquid, hydrogen or helium

Tue, 24th Dec 2013

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Question

Nina asked:

I was wondering which had a lower boiling point, liquid hydrogen or liquid helium? I think I have read that helium has a lower boiling point, but could you explain why?

Answer

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Liquid nitrogen boiling at room temperature

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Helium has a lower boiling point because of weaker van de Waals Forces djandersonza, Sat, 7th Dec 2013

Helium has a lower boiling point because it is a single spherical atom. It has very little surface area, and is not very polarizable. Elemental hydrogen exists as a diatomic molecule (H2). Even though it has a lower mass than helium, H2 has the same number of electrons, and they are distributed over a larger space in the linear (not spherical) molecule. These electrons are more free to move within the molecule, which means it is polarizable. This difference in polarizability is responsible for the difference in strength of intermolecular forces. chiralSPO, Mon, 9th Dec 2013

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