Among the many distinctive features of benzene, its aromaticity is the major contributor to why it is so unreactive. This section will try to clarify the theory of aromaticity and why aromaticity gives unique qualities that make these conjugated alkenes inert to compounds such as Br2 and even hydrochloric acid. It will also go into detail about the unusually large resonance energy due to the six conjugated carbons of benzene.
The delocalization of the p-orbital carbons on the sp2 hybridized carbons is what gives the aromatic qualities of benzene.
This diagram shows one of the molecular orbitals containing two of the delocalized electrons, which may be found anywhere within the two "doughnuts". The other molecular orbitals are almost never drawn.
Benzene, C6H6, is a planar molecule containing a ring of six carbon atoms, each with a hydrogen atom attached.
The six carbon atoms form a perfectly regular hexagon. All of the carbon-carbon bonds have exactly the same lengths - somewhere between single and double bonds.
There are delocalized electrons above and below the plane of the ring.
The presence of the delocalized electrons makes benzene particularly stable.
Benzene resists addition reactions because those reactions would involve breaking the delocalization and losing that stability.
Benzene is represented by this symbol, where the circle represents the delocalized electrons, and each corner of the hexagon has a carbon atom with a hydrogen attached.
Basic Structure of Benzene
Because of the aromaticity of benzene, the resulting molecule is planar in shape with each C-C bond being 1.39 Å in length and each bond angle being 120°. You might ask yourselves how it's possible to have all of the bonds to be the same length if the ring is conjugated with both single (1.47 Å) and double (1.34 Å), but it is important to note that there are no distinct single or double bonds within the benzene. Rather, the delocalization of the ring makes each count as one and a half bonds between the carbons which makes sense because experimentally we find that the actual bond length is somewhere in between a single and double bond. Finally, there are a total of six p-orbital electrons that form the stabilizing electron clouds above and below the aromatic ring.
Jim Clark (Chemguide.co.uk)