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What is Lead Oxide?

Lead Oxide is the inorganic compound with the formula PbO2. It is an oxide where lead is in an oxidation state of +4. It is a dark-brown solid which is insoluble in water. It exists in two crystalline forms. It has several important applications in electrochemistry, in particular as the positive plate of lead acid batteries.



Lead dioxide has two major polymorphs, alpha and beta, which occur naturally as rare minerals scrutinyite and plattnerite, respectively. Whereas the beta form had been identified in 1845, α-PbO2 was first identified in 1946 and found as a naturally occurring mineral 1988.

The alpha form has orthorhombic symmetry, space group Pbcn (No. 60), Pearson symbol oP12, lattice constants a = 0.497 nm, b = 0.596 nm, c = 0.544 nm, Z = 4 (four formula units per unit cell). The lead atoms are six-coordinate.

The symmetry of the beta form is tetragonal, space group P42/mnm (No. 136), Pearson symbol tP6, lattice constants a = 0.491 nm, c = 0.3385 nm, Z = 2 and related to the rutile structure and can be envisaged as containing columns of octahedra sharing opposite edges and joined to other chains by corners. This contrasts with the alpha form where the octahedra are linked by adjacent edges to give zigzag chains.

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