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Chemistry LibreTexts

8: Basic Concepts of Chemical Bonding

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  • We described the relationship between the chemical properties and reactivity of an element and its position in the periodic table. In this chapter and the following chapter, we describe the interactions that hold atoms together in chemical substances, and we examine the factors that determine how the atoms of a substance are arranged in space. Our goal is to understand how the properties of the component atoms in a chemical compound determine the structure and reactivity of the compound. The properties described previously were properties of isolated atoms, yet most of the substances in our world consist of atoms held together in molecules, ionic compounds, or metallic solids. The properties of these substances depend on not only the characteristics of the component atoms but also how those atoms are bonded to one another.

    What you learn in this chapter about chemical bonding and molecular structure will help you understand how different substances with the same atoms can have vastly different physical and chemical properties. For example, oxygen gas (O2) is essential for life, yet ozone (O3) is toxic to cells, although as you learned previously, ozone in the upper atmosphere shields us from harmful ultraviolet light. Moreover, you saw that diamond is a hard, transparent solid that is a gemstone; graphite is a soft, black solid that is a lubricant; and fullerenes are molecular species with carbon cage structures—yet all of these are composed of carbon. As you learn about bonding, you will also discover why, although carbon and silicon both have ns2np2 valence electron configurations and form dioxides, CO2 is normally a gas that condenses into the volatile molecular solid known as dry ice, whereas SiO2 is a nonvolatile solid with a network structure that can take several forms, including beach sand and quartz crystals.

    • 8.1: Chemical Bonds, Lewis Symbols, and the Octet Rule
      Lewis dot symbols can be used to predict the number of bonds formed by most elements in their compounds. Lewis electron dot symbols, which consist of the chemical symbol for an element surrounded by dots that represent its valence electrons, grouped into pairs often placed above, below, and to the left and right of the symbol. The structures reflect the fact that the elements in period 2 and beyond tend to gain, lose, or share electrons to reach a total of 8 valence electrons in their compounds.
    • 8.2: Ionic Bonding
      The amount of energy needed to separate a gaseous ion pair is its bond energy. The formation of ionic compounds are usually extremely exothermic. The strength of the electrostatic attraction between ions with opposite charges is directly proportional to the magnitude of the charges on the ions and inversely proportional to the internuclear distance.
    • 8.3: Covalent Bonding
      The strength of a covalent bond depends on the overlap between the valence orbitals of the bonded atoms. Bond order is the number of electron pairs that hold two atoms together. Single bonds have a bond order of one, and multiple bonds with bond orders of two (a double bond) and three (a triple bond) are quite common. In closely related compounds with bonds between the same kinds of atoms, the bond with the highest bond order is both the shortest and the strongest.
    • 8.4: Bond Polarity and Electronegativity
      Bond polarity and ionic character increase with an increasing difference in electronegativity. The electronegativity (χ) of an element is the relative ability of an atom to attract electrons to itself in a chemical compound and increases diagonally from the lower left of the periodic table to the upper right. The Pauling electronegativity scale is based on measurements of the strengths of covalent bonds between different atoms, whereas the Mulliken electronegativity of an element is the average
    • 8.5: Drawing Lewis Structures
      Lewis dot symbols provide a simple rationalization of why elements form compounds with the observed stoichiometries. A plot of the overall energy of a covalent bond as a function of internuclear distance is identical to a plot of an ionic pair because both result from attractive and repulsive forces between charged entities. Lewis structures are an attempt to rationalize why certain stoichiometries are commonly observed for the elements of particular families.
    • 8.6: Resonance Structures
      Some molecules have two or more chemically equivalent Lewis electron structures, called resonance structures. Resonance is a mental exercise and method within the Valence Bond Theory of bonding that describes the delocalization of electrons within molecules. These structures are written with a double-headed arrow between them, indicating that none of the Lewis structures accurately describes the bonding but that the actual structure is an average of the individual resonance structures.
    • 8.7: Exceptions to the Octet Rule
      Following the Octet Rule for Lewis Dot Structures leads to the most accurate depictions of stable molecular and atomic structures and because of this we always want to use the octet rule when drawing Lewis Dot Structures. There are three exceptions:  (1) When there are an odd number of valence electrons, (2) When there are too few valence electrons, and (3) when there are too many valence electrons
    • 8.8: Strength of Covalent Bonds
      Bond order is the number of electron pairs that hold two atoms together. Single bonds have a bond order of one, and multiple bonds with bond orders of two (a double bond) and three (a triple bond) are quite common. The bond with the highest bond order is both the shortest and the strongest. In bonds with the same bond order between different atoms, trends are observed that, with few exceptions, result in the strongest single bonds being formed between the smallest atoms.
    • 8.E: Basic Concepts of Chemical Bonding (Exercises)
      Problems and select solutions to the chapter.
    • 8.S: Basic Concepts of Chemical Bonding (Summary)
      A summary of the key concepts in this chapter of the Textmap created for "Chemistry: The Central Science" by Brown et al.