In this chapter, we begin with a general method for predicting the structures of simple covalent molecules and polyatomic ions; then we discuss the actual distribution of electrons in covalent bonds. We apply two distinct approaches for describing covalent bonds:
- a localized model to describe bonding in molecules with two or more atoms attached to a central atom and
- a delocalized model to explain and predict which diatomic species exist and which do not exist.
We conclude by describing more complex molecules and ions with multiple bonds. The tools you acquire in this chapter will enable you to explain why Ca2 is too unstable to exist in nature and why the unpaired electrons on O2 are crucial to the existence of life as we know it. You will also discover why carbon, the basic component of all organic compounds, forms four bonds despite having only two unpaired electrons in its valence electron configuration and how the structure of retinal, the key light-sensing component in our eyes, allows us to detect visible light.