Problem: Serotonin is a compound that conducts nerve impulses in the brain. It contains 68.2 mass percent C, 6.86 mass percent H, 15.9 mass percent N, and 9.08 mass percent O. Its molar mass is 176 g/mol.Determine its molecular formula.

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We’re being asked to determine the molecular formula of serotonin, a compound composed of C, H, N and O given their mass percent and the molar mass of the compound


Recall that the molecular formula is the unsimplified and actual formula of a compound.


To determine the molecular formula of serotonin, we need to do the following steps:


Step 1: Calculate the mass and moles of C, H, N, and O in the compound.

Step 2: Determine the lowest whole number ratio of C, H, N, and O to get the empirical formula.

 

Recall that the empirical formula is the simplest whole-number ratio formula of a compound. 


Step 3: Get the ratio of the molar mass and empirical mass to determine the molecular formula.


Step 1: The compound contains 68.2 mass percent C, 6.86 mass percent H, 15.9 mass percent N, and 9.08 mass percent O


Recall that mass percent is given by:


% mass=mass of Xtotal mass×100


Assuming we have 100 g of the compound, this means we have 68.2 g C, 6.86 g H,  15.9 g N, and 9.08 g O.

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Problem Details

Serotonin is a compound that conducts nerve impulses in the brain. It contains 68.2 mass percent C, 6.86 mass percent H, 15.9 mass percent N, and 9.08 mass percent O. Its molar mass is 176 g/mol.

Determine its molecular formula.