# 2.2: Lewis Electron-Dot Diagrams

• • Kathryn Haas
• Duke University
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In 1916, Gilbert Lewis Newton introduced a simple way to show the bonding between atoms in a molecule though Lewis electron dot diagrams. Creating Lewis diagrams is rather simple and requires only a few steps and some accounting of the valence electrons on each atom. Valence electrons are represented as dots. When two electrons are paired (lone pairs), they are represented by two adjacent dots located on an atom, and when two paired electrons are shared between atoms (bonds), they are shown as lines. For example, below are the electron dot structures of atoms and the Lewis electron dot structures of the molecules.

These diagrams are helpful because they allow us to show how atoms are connected, and when coupled with Valence Shell Electron Repulsion Theory (VSEPR), we can use Lewis structures to predict the shape of the molecule. The drawing of Lewis electron-dot structures is guided largely by the octet rule: that atoms form bonds to achieve eight electrons in their valence shell. For many elements, a full valence shell has an electron configuration of $$s^2p^6$$, or eight electrons. A common exception to this rule is the first row elements, H and He. These two elements have $$n=1$$ as their valence shell, and so they have only two electrons in a full valence shell ($$1s^2$$ electron configuration). Although H and He are exceptions to the "octet rule", they still form bonds to achieve a full valence shell. It may be better to think of this as the "full valence" rule of bonding. We will see many more violations to the "octet" rule as we progress through this course. In the case of metals and metalloids, breaking of the rules is particularly common. (CC-BY-NC-SA; Kathryn Haas)

##### Common violations of the octet rule
• Less than eight electrons (hypovalency): H and He are examples of elements that cannot have more than two electrons in their full valence shell. Additionally, there are cases where a valid Lewis structure contains atoms with hypovalency: partially-filled valence shells. An example of this is a carbocation, a positively charged carbon with only six electrons in its valence shell. Carbocations are important intermediates in organic chemistry, and they are highly reactive (unstable) Lewis acids (electrophiles). Another example of hypovalency is the Lewis structure for BH3, which shows boron with three bonds, and only six electrons in its valence shell. The boron is a strong Lewis Acid. (Side note: the actual chemical form of BH3 is not well-predicted by the Lewis structure and we'll see more about this in Section 3.1.4.)
• More than eight electrons (hypervalency): This is a case where an element has more than eight electrons in its valence shell. It is common for larger atoms ($$n\geq3$$, and it is discussed further in Section 3.1.2.

Pitfall alert! There are different rules for counting electrons depending on the purpose of the counting. These are the rules for counting for "octets". The rules for counting for calculation of an atom's formal charge are !!different!! and are described in Section 3.1.1. When an atom is part of a molecule, all electrons that are associated with the atom are counted as contributing to the atom's valence. This includes electrons that are lone pairs on the atoms, and all electrons that are shared in bonds. If four electrons are shared between two atoms, it is a double bond. If six electrons are shared between atoms, it is a triple bond.

Electrons in valence (octet) = total unbonded electrons on the atom + total bonded electrons (2 electrons per bond)

Even if you're an old pro at drawing Lewis structures, it's a good idea to polish up. Please complete the practice exercises below. You should get out an actual piece of paper (I know...just do it. It's good for you.) and a writing tool and try to complete each problem before checking the answer.

##### Exercise $$\PageIndex{1}$$

Draw the Lewis structures for H2O, CO2, and N2. ##### Exercise $$\PageIndex{1}$$

Draw the Lewis structures for H2, BH3 and BF3. 