Iodine is a chemical element with symbol I and atomic number 53. The heaviest of the stable halogens, it exists as a lustrous, purple-black metallic solid at a standard conditions that sublimes readily to form a violet gas. The elemental form was discovered by the French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811. It was named two years later by Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac from this property, after the Greek ?ωδης "violet-coloured".
Iodine occurs in many oxidation states, including iodide (I−), iodate (IO−3), and the various periodate anions. It is the least abundant of the stable halogens, being the sixty-first most abundant element. It is even less abundant than the so-called rare earths. It is the heaviest essential element. Iodine is found in the thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities.
The dominant producers of iodine today are Chile and Japan. Iodine and its compounds are primarily used in nutrition. Due to its high atomic number and ease of attachment to organic compounds, it has also found favour as a non-toxic radiocontrast material. Because of the specificity of its uptake by the human body, radioactive isotopes of iodine can also be used to treat thyroid cancer. Iodine is also used as a catalyst in the industrial production of acetic acid and some polymers.
In 1811, iodine was discovered by French chemist Bernard Courtois, who was born to a manufacturer of saltpeter (an essential component of gunpowder). At that time of the Napoleonic Wars, saltpeter was in great demand in France. Saltpeter produced from French nitre beds required sodium carbonate, which could be isolated from seaweed collected on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany. To isolate the sodium carbonate, seaweed was burned and the ash washed with water. The remaining waste was destroyed by adding sulfuric acid. Courtois once added excessive sulfuric acid and a cloud of purple vapour rose. He noted that the vapour crystallised on cold surfaces, making dark crystals. Courtois suspected that this material was a new element but lacked funding to pursue it further.
- WebElements.com – Iron (http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Fe/index.html)
- EnvironmentalChemistry.com – Iron (http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/periodic/Fe.html)
- It's Elemental – Iron (http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele026.html)
- Dietary Supplement : Iron (http://www.talkwellness.org/iron.html)