Lewis structure

Lewis structures, also known as Lewis dot diagrams, Lewis dot formulas, Lewis dot structures, electron dot structures, or Lewis electron dot structures (LEDS), are diagrams that show the bonding between atoms of a molecule and the lone pairs of electrons that may exist in the molecule.[1][2][3] A Lewis structure can be drawn for any covalently bonded molecule, as well as coordination compounds. The Lewis structure was named after Gilbert N. Lewis, who introduced it in his 1916 article The Atom and the Molecule.[4] Lewis structures extend the concept of the electron dot diagram by adding lines between atoms to represent shared pairs in a chemical bond.

Lewis structures show each atom and its position in the structure of the molecule using its chemical symbol. Lines are drawn between atoms that are bonded to one another (pairs of dots can be used instead of lines). Excess electrons that form lone pairs are represented as pairs of dots, and are placed next to the atoms.

Although main group elements of the second period and beyond usually react by gaining, losing, or sharing electrons until they have achieved a valence shell electron configuration with a full octet of (8) electrons, hydrogen (H) can only form bonds which share just two electrons.

Construction and electron counting

The total number of electrons represented in a Lewis structure is equal to the sum of the numbers of valence electrons on each individual atom. Non-valence electrons are not represented in Lewis structures.

Once the total number of available electrons has been determined, electrons must be placed into the structure according to these steps:

  1. The atoms are first connected by single bonds.
  2. If t is the total number of electrons and n the number of single bonds, t-2n electrons remain to be placed. These should be placed as lone pairs: one pair of dots for each pair of electrons available. Lone pairs should initially be placed on outer atoms (other than hydrogen) until each outer atom has eight electrons in bonding pairs and lone pairs; extra lone pairs may then be placed on the central atom. When in doubt, lone pairs should be placed on more electronegative atoms first.
  3. Once all lone pairs are placed, atoms (especially the central atoms) may not have an octet of electrons. In this case, the atoms must form a double bond; a lone pair of electrons is moved to form a second bond between the two atoms. As the bonding pair is shared between the two atoms, the atom that originally had the lone pair still has an octet; the other atom now has two more electrons in its valence shell.

Lewis structures for polyatomic ions may be drawn by the same method. When counting electrons, negative ions should have extra electrons placed in their Lewis structures; positive ions should have fewer electrons than an uncharged molecule. When the Lewis structure of an ion is written, the entire structure is placed in brackets, and the charge is written as a superscript on the upper right, outside the brackets.

A simpler method has been proposed for constructing Lewis structures, eliminating the need for electron counting: the atoms are drawn showing the valence electrons; bonds are then formed by pairing up valence electrons of the atoms involved in the bond-making process, and anions and cations are formed by adding or removing electrons to/from the appropriate atoms.[5]

A trick is to count up valence electrons, then count up the number of electrons needed to complete the octet rule (or with hydrogen just 2 electrons), then take the difference of these two numbers and the answer is the number of electrons that make up the bonds. The rest of the electrons just go to fill all the other atoms' octets.

Another simple and general procedure to write Lewis structures and resonance forms has been proposed.[6]

Formal charge

In terms of Lewis structures, formal charge is used in the description, comparison, and assessment of likely topological and resonance structures[7] by determining the apparent electronic charge of each atom within, based upon its electron dot structure, assuming exclusive covalency or non-polar bonding. It has uses in determining possible electron re-configuration when referring to reaction mechanisms, and often results in the same sign as the partial charge of the atom, with exceptions. In general, the formal charge of an atom can be calculated using the following formula, assuming non-standard definitions for the markup used:


  • is the formal charge.
  • represents the number of valence electrons in a free atom of the element.
  • represents the number of unshared electrons on the atom.
  • represents the total number of electrons in bonds the atom has with another.

The formal charge of an atom is computed as the difference between the number of valence electrons that a neutral atom would have and the number of electrons that belong to it in the Lewis structure. Electrons in covalent bonds are split equally between the atoms involved in the bond. The total of the formal charges on an ion should be equal to the charge on the ion, and the total of the formal charges on a neutral molecule should be equal to zero.


For some molecules and ions, it is difficult to determine which lone pairs should be moved to form double or triple bonds, and two or more different resonance structures may be written for the same molecule or ion. In such cases it is usual to write all of them with two-way arrows in between (see Example below). This is sometimes the case when multiple atoms of the same type surround the central atom, and is especially common for polyatomic ions.

When this situation occurs, the molecule's Lewis structure is said to be a resonance structure, and the molecule exists as a resonance hybrid. Each of the different possibilities is superimposed on the others, and the molecule is considered to have a Lewis structure equivalent to some combination of these states.

The nitrate ion (NO3), for instance, must form a double bond between nitrogen and one of the oxygens to satisfy the octet rule for nitrogen. However, because the molecule is symmetrical, it does not matter which of the oxygens forms the double bond. In this case, there are three possible resonance structures. Expressing resonance when drawing Lewis structures may be done either by drawing each of the possible resonance forms and placing double-headed arrows between them or by using dashed lines to represent the partial bonds (although the latter is a good representation of the resonance hybrid which is not, formally speaking, a Lewis structure).

When comparing resonance structures for the same molecule, usually those with the fewest formal charges contribute more to the overall resonance hybrid. When formal charges are necessary, resonance structures that have negative charges on the more electronegative elements and positive charges on the less electronegative elements are favored.

Single bonds can also be moved in the same way to create resonance structures for hypervalent molecules such as sulfur hexafluoride, which is the correct description according to quantum chemical calculations instead of the common expanded octet model.

The resonance structure should not be interpreted to indicate that the molecule switches between forms, but that the molecule acts as the average of multiple forms.


The formula of the nitrite ion is NO

  1. Nitrogen is the least electronegative atom of the two, so it is the central atom by multiple criteria.
  2. Count valence electrons. Nitrogen has 5 valence electrons; each oxygen has 6, for a total of (6 × 2) + 5 = 17. The ion has a charge of −1, which indicates an extra electron, so the total number of electrons is 18.
  3. Connect the atoms by single bonds. Each oxygen must be bonded to the nitrogen, which uses four electrons—two in each bond.
  4. Place lone pairs. The 14 remaining electrons should initially be placed as 7 lone pairs. Each oxygen may take a maximum of 3 lone pairs, giving each oxygen 8 electrons including the bonding pair. The seventh lone pair must be placed on the nitrogen atom.
  5. Satisfy the octet rule. Both oxygen atoms currently have 8 electrons assigned to them. The nitrogen atom has only 6 electrons assigned to it. One of the lone pairs on an oxygen atom must form a double bond, but either atom will work equally well. Therefore, there is a resonance structure.
  6. Tie up loose ends. Two Lewis structures must be drawn: Each structure has one of the two oxygen atoms double-bonded to the nitrogen atom. The second oxygen atom in each structure will be single-bonded to the nitrogen atom. Place brackets around each structure, and add the charge (−) to the upper right outside the brackets. Draw a double-headed arrow between the two resonance forms.

Alternative formations

Two varieties of condensed structural formula, both showing butane
A skeletal diagram of butane

Chemical structures may be written in more compact forms, particularly when showing organic molecules. In condensed structural formulas, many or even all of the covalent bonds may be left out, with subscripts indicating the number of identical groups attached to a particular atom. Another shorthand structural diagram is the skeletal formula (also known as a bond-line formula or carbon skeleton diagram). In a skeletal formula, carbon atoms are not signified by the symbol C but by the vertices of the lines. Hydrogen atoms bonded to carbon are not shown—they can be inferred by counting the number of bonds to a particular carbon atom—each carbon is assumed to have four bonds in total, so any bonds not shown are, by implication, to hydrogen atoms.

Other diagrams may be more complex than Lewis structures, showing bonds in 3D using various forms such as space-filling diagrams.

Usage and limitations

Despite their simplicity and development in the early twentieth century, when understanding of chemical bonding was still rudimentary, Lewis structures capture many of the key features of the electronic structure of a range of molecular systems, including those of relevance to chemical reactivity. Thus, they continue to enjoy widespread use by chemists and chemistry educators. This is especially true in the field of organic chemistry, where the traditional valence-bond model of bonding still dominates, and mechanisms are often understood in terms of curve-arrow notation superimposed upon skeletal formulae, which are shorthand versions of Lewis structures. Due to the greater variety of bonding schemes encountered in inorganic and organometallic chemistry, many of the molecules encountered require the use of fully delocalized molecular orbitals to adequately describe their bonding, making Lewis structures comparatively less important (although they are still common).

It is important to note that there are simple and archetypal molecular systems for which a Lewis description, at least in unmodified form, is misleading or inaccurate. Notably, the naive drawing of Lewis structures for molecules known experimentally to contain unpaired electrons (e.g., O2, NO, and ClO2) leads to incorrect inferences of bond orders (lengths) and/or magnetic properties. A simple Lewis model also does not account for the phenomenon of aromaticity. For instance, Lewis structures do not offer an explanation for why cyclic C6H6 (benzene) experiences special stabilization beyond normal delocalization effects, while C4H4 (cyclobutadiene) actually experiences a special destabilization. Molecular orbital theory provides the most straightforward explanation for these phenomena.

See also


  1. ^ IUPAC definition of Lewis formula
  2. ^ Zumdahl, S. (2005) Chemical Principles Houghton-Mifflin (ISBN 0-618-37206-7)
  3. ^ G.L. Miessler; D.A. Tarr (2003), Inorganic Chemistry (2nd ed.), Pearson Prentice–Hall, ISBN 0-13-035471-6
  4. ^ Lewis, G. N. (1916), "The Atom and the Molecule", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 38 (4): 762–85, doi:10.1021/ja02261a002
  5. ^ Miburo, Barnabe B. (1993), "Simplified Lewis Structure Drawing for Non-science Majors", J. Chem. Educ., 75 (3): 317, Bibcode:1998JChEd..75..317M, doi:10.1021/ed075p317
  6. ^ Lever, A. B. P. (1972), "Lewis Structures and the Octet Rule", J. Chem. Educ., 49 (12): 819, Bibcode:1972JChEd..49..819L, doi:10.1021/ed049p819
  7. ^ Miessler, G. L. and Tarr, D. A., Inorganic Chemistry (2nd ed., Prentice Hall 1998) ISBN 0-13-841891-8, pp. 49–53 – Explanation of formal charge usage.

External links


In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid (H2CO3), characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion, a polyatomic ion with the formula of CO2−3. The name may also refer to a carbonate ester, an organic compound containing the carbonate group C(=O)(O–)2.

The term is also used as a verb, to describe carbonation: the process of raising the concentrations of carbonate and bicarbonate ions in water to produce carbonated water and other carbonated beverages – either by the addition of carbon dioxide gas under pressure, or by dissolving carbonate or bicarbonate salts into the water.

In geology and mineralogy, the term "carbonate" can refer both to carbonate minerals and carbonate rock (which is made of chiefly carbonate minerals), and both are dominated by the carbonate ion, CO2−3. Carbonate minerals are extremely varied and ubiquitous in chemically precipitated sedimentary rock. The most common are calcite or calcium carbonate, CaCO3, the chief constituent of limestone (as well as the main component of mollusc shells and coral skeletons); dolomite, a calcium-magnesium carbonate CaMg(CO3)2; and siderite, or iron(II) carbonate, FeCO3, an important iron ore. Sodium carbonate ("soda" or "natron") and potassium carbonate ("potash") have been used since antiquity for cleaning and preservation, as well as for the manufacture of glass. Carbonates are widely used in industry, e.g. in iron smelting, as a raw material for Portland cement and lime manufacture, in the composition of ceramic glazes, and more.

Chemical bonding of H2O

Water (H2O) is a simple triatomic bent molecule with C2v molecular symmetry and bond angle of 104.5° between the central oxygen atom and the hydrogen atoms. Despite being one of the simplest triatomic molecules, its chemical bonding scheme is nonetheless complex as many of its bonding properties such as bond angle, ionization energy, and electronic state energy cannot be explained by one unified bonding model. Instead, several traditional and advanced bonding models such as simple Lewis and VESPR structure, valence bond theory, molecular orbital theory, isovalent hybridization, and Bent's rule are discussed below to provide a comprehensive bonding model for H2O, explaining and rationalizing the various electronic and physical properties and features manifested by its peculiar bonding arrangements.

Cheshire West and Chester Council

Cheshire West and Chester Council is the local authority of Cheshire West and Chester. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council was first elected on 1 May 2008, a year before coming into its legal powers on 1 April 2009. After an election in May 2019, no party holds overall control.

Covalent bond

A covalent bond, also called a molecular bond, is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. These electron pairs are known as shared pairs or bonding pairs, and the stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms, when they share electrons, is known as covalent bonding. For many molecules, the sharing of electrons allows each atom to attain the equivalent of a full outer shell, corresponding to a stable electronic configuration. In organic chemistry covalent bonds are much more common than ionic bonds.Covalent bonding includes many kinds of interactions, including σ-bonding, π-bonding, metal-to-metal bonding, agostic interactions, bent bonds, and three-center two-electron bonds. The term covalent bond dates from 1939. The prefix co- means jointly, associated in action, partnered to a lesser degree, etc.; thus a "co-valent bond", in essence, means that the atoms share "valence", such as is discussed in valence bond theory.

In the molecule H2, the hydrogen atoms share the two electrons via covalent bonding. Covalency is greatest between atoms of similar electronegativities. Thus, covalent bonding does not necessarily require that the two atoms be of the same elements, only that they be of comparable electronegativity. Covalent bonding that entails sharing of electrons over more than two atoms is said to be delocalized.

Cubical atom

The cubical atom was an early atomic model in which electrons were positioned at the eight corners of a cube in a non-polar atom or molecule. This theory was developed in 1902 by Gilbert N. Lewis and published in 1916 in the article "The Atom and the Molecule" and used to account for the phenomenon of valency.

Lewis's theory was based on Abegg's rule. It was further developed in 1919 by Irving Langmuir as the cubical octet atom. The figure below shows structural representations for elements of the second row of the periodic table.

Although the cubical model of the atom was soon abandoned in favor of the quantum mechanical model based on the Schrödinger equation, and is therefore now principally of historical interest, it represented an important step towards the understanding of the chemical bond. The 1916 article by Lewis also introduced the concept of the electron pair in the covalent bond, the octet rule, and the now-called Lewis structure.

Formal charge

In chemistry, a formal charge (FC) is the charge assigned to an atom in a molecule, assuming that electrons in all chemical bonds are shared equally between atoms, regardless of relative electronegativity. When determining the best Lewis structure (or predominant resonance structure) for a molecule, the structure is chosen such that the formal charge on each of the atoms is as close to zero as possible.

The formal charge of any atom in a molecule can be calculated by the following equation:

where V is the number of valence electrons of the neutral atom in isolation (in its ground state); N is the number of non-bonding valence electrons on this atom in the molecule; and B is the total number of electrons shared in bonds with other atoms in the molecule.

Lone pair

In chemistry, a lone pair refers to a pair of valence electrons that are not shared with another atom in a covalent bond and is sometimes called an unshared pair or non-bonding pair. Lone pairs are found in the outermost electron shell of atoms. They can be identified by using a Lewis structure. Electron pairs are therefore considered lone pairs if two electrons are paired but are not used in chemical bonding. Thus, the number of lone pair electrons plus the number of bonding electrons equals the total number of valence electrons around an atom.

Lone pair is a concept used in valence shell electron pair repulsion theory (VSEPR theory) which explains the shapes of molecules. They are also referred to in the chemistry of Lewis acids and bases. However, not all non-bonding pairs of electrons are considered by chemists to be lone pairs. Examples are the transition metals where the non-bonding pairs do not influence molecular geometry and are said to be stereochemically inactive. In molecular orbital theory (fully delocalized canonical orbitals or localized in some form), the concept of a lone pair is less distinct, as the correspondence between an orbital and components of a Lewis structure is often not straightforward. Nevertheless, occupied non-bonding orbitals (or orbitals of mostly nonbonding character) are frequently identified as lone pairs.

A single lone pair can be found with atoms in the nitrogen group such as nitrogen in ammonia, two lone pairs can be found with atoms in the chalcogen group such as oxygen in water and the halogens can carry three lone pairs such as in hydrogen chloride.

In VSEPR theory the electron pairs on the oxygen atom in water form the vertices of a tetrahedron with the lone pairs on two of the four vertices. The H–O–H bond angle is 104.5°, less than the 109° predicted for a tetrahedral angle, and this can be explained by a repulsive interaction between the lone pairs.Various computational criteria for the presence of lone pairs have been proposed. While electron density ρ(r) itself generally does not provide useful guidance in this regard, the laplacian of the electron density is revealing, and one criterion for the location of the lone pair is where L(r) = –∇2ρ(r) is a local maximum. The minima of the electrostatic potential V(r) is another proposed criterion. Yet another considers the electron localization function (ELF).

Molecular geometry

Molecular geometry is the three-dimensional arrangement of the atoms that constitute a molecule. It includes the general shape of the molecule as well as bond lengths, bond angles, torsional angles and any other geometrical parameters that determine the position of each atom.

Molecular geometry influences several properties of a substance including its reactivity, polarity, phase of matter, color, magnetism and biological activity. The angles between bonds that an atom forms depend only weakly on the rest of molecule, i.e. they can be understood as approximately local and hence transferable properties.

Natural bond orbital

In quantum chemistry, a natural bond orbital or NBO is a calculated bonding orbital with maximum electron density. The NBOs are one of a sequence of natural localized orbital sets that include "natural atomic orbitals" (NAO), "natural hybrid orbitals" (NHO), "natural bonding orbitals" (NBO) and "natural (semi-)localized molecular orbitals" (NLMO). These natural localized sets are intermediate between basis atomic orbitals (AO) and molecular orbitals (MO):

Atomic orbital → NAO → NHO → NBO → NLMO → Molecular orbitalNatural (localized) orbitals are used in computational chemistry to calculate the distribution of electron density in atoms and in bonds between atoms. They have the "maximum-occupancy character" in localized 1-center and 2-center regions of the molecule. Natural bond orbitals (NBOs) include the highest possible percentage of the electron density, ideally close to 2.000, providing the most accurate possible “natural Lewis structure” of ψ. A high percentage of electron density (denoted %-ρL), often found to be >99% for common organic molecules, correspond with an accurate natural Lewis structure.

The concept of natural orbitals was first introduced by Per-Olov Löwdin in 1955, to describe the unique set of orthonormal 1-electron functions that are intrinsic to the N-electron wavefunction.

Non-bonding orbital

A non-bonding orbital, also known as non-bonding molecular orbital (NBMO), is a molecular orbital whose occupation by electrons neither increases nor decreases the bond order between the involved atoms. Non-bonding orbitals are often designated by the letter n in molecular orbital diagrams and electron transition notations. Non-bonding orbitals are the equivalent in molecular orbital theory of the lone pairs in Lewis structures. The energy level of a non-bonding orbital is typically in between the lower energy of a valence shell bonding orbital and the higher energy of a corresponding antibonding orbital. As such, a non-bonding orbital with electrons would commonly be a HOMO (highest occupied molecular orbital).

According to molecular orbital theory, molecular orbitals are often modeled by the linear combination of atomic orbitals. In a simple diatomic molecule such as hydrogen fluoride (chemical formula: HF), one atom may have many more electrons than the other. A sigma bonding orbital is created between the atomic orbitals with like symmetry. Some orbitals (e.g. px and py orbitals from the fluorine in HF) may not have any other orbitals to combine with and become non-bonding molecular orbitals. In the HF example, the px and py orbitals remain px and py orbitals in shape but when viewed as molecular orbitals are thought of as non-bonding. The energy of the orbital does not depend on the length of any bond within the molecule. Its occupation neither increases nor decreases the stability of the molecule, relative to the atoms, since its energy is the same in the molecule as in one of the atoms. For example, there are two rigorously non-bonding orbitals that are occupied in the ground state of the hydrogen fluoride diatomic molecule; these molecular orbitals are localized on the fluorine atom and are composed of p-type atomic orbitals whose orientation is perpendicular to the internuclear axis. They are therefore unable to overlap and interact with the s-type valence orbital on the hydrogen atom.

Although non-bonding orbitals are often similar to the atomic orbitals of their constituent atom, they do not need to be similar. An example of a non-similar one is the non-bonding orbital of the allyl anion, whose electron density is concentrated on the first and third carbon atoms.In fully delocalized canonical molecular orbital theory, it is often the case that none of the molecular orbitals of a molecular are strictly non-bonding in nature. However, in the context of localized molecular orbitals, the concept of a filled, non-bonding orbital tends to correspond to electrons described in Lewis structure terms as "lone pairs."

There are several symbols used to represent unoccupied non-bonding orbitals. Occasionally, n* is used, in analogy to σ* and π*, but this usage is rare. Often, the atomic orbital symbol is used, most often p for p orbital; others have used the letter a for a generic atomic orbital. (By Bent's rule, unoccupied orbitals for a main-group element are almost always of p character, since s character is stabilizing and will be used for bonding orbitals. As an exception, the LUMO of phenyl cation is an spx (x ≈ 2) atomic orbital, due to the geometric constraint of the benzene ring.) Finally, woodward and Hoffmann used the letter ω for non-bonding orbitals (occupied or unoccupied) in their monograph Conservation of Orbital Symmetry.

Octet rule

The octet rule is a chemical rule of thumb that reflects observation that elements tend to bond in such a way that each atom has eight electrons in its valence shell, giving it the same electronic configuration as a noble gas. The rule is especially applicable to carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and the halogens, but also to metals such as sodium or magnesium.

The valence electrons can be counted using a Lewis electron dot diagram as shown at the right for carbon dioxide. The electrons shared by the two atoms in a covalent bond are counted twice, once for each atom. In carbon dioxide each oxygen shares four electrons with the central carbon, two (shown in red) from the oxygen itself and two (shown in black) from the carbon. All four of these electrons are counted in both the carbon octet and the oxygen octet.

Oxidation state

The oxidation state, sometimes referred to as oxidation number, describes the degree of oxidation (loss of electrons) of an atom in a chemical compound. Conceptually, the oxidation state, which may be positive, negative or zero, is the hypothetical charge that an atom would have if all bonds to atoms of different elements were 100% ionic, with no covalent component. This is never exactly true for real bonds.

The term oxidation was first used by Antoine Lavoisier to signify reaction of a substance with oxygen. Much later, it was realized that the substance, upon being oxidized, loses electrons, and the meaning was extended to include other reactions in which electrons are lost, regardless of whether oxygen was involved.

Oxidation states are typically represented by integers which may be positive, zero, or negative. In some cases, the average oxidation state of an element is a fraction, such as 8/3 for iron in magnetite (Fe3O4). The highest known oxidation state is reported to be +9 in the tetroxoiridium(IX) cation (IrO+4). It is predicted that even a +10 oxidation state may be achievable by platinum in the tetroxoplatinum(X) cation (PtO2+4). The lowest oxidation state is −4, as for carbon in methane or for chromium in [Cr(CO)4]4−.

The increase in oxidation state of an atom, through a chemical reaction, is known as an oxidation; a decrease in oxidation state is known as a reduction. Such reactions involve the formal transfer of electrons: a net gain in electrons being a reduction, and a net loss of electrons being an oxidation. For pure elements, the oxidation state is zero.

The oxidation state of an atom does not represent the "real" charge on that atom, or any other actual atomic property. This is particularly true of high oxidation states, where the ionization energy required to produce a multiply positive ion is far greater than the energies available in chemical reactions. Additionally, oxidation states of atoms in a given compound may vary depending on the choice of electronegativity scale used in their calculation. Thus, the oxidation state of an atom in a compound is purely a formalism. It is nevertheless important in understanding the nomenclature conventions of inorganic compounds. Also, a number of observations pertaining to chemical reactions may be explained at a basic level in terms of oxidation states.

In inorganic nomenclature, the oxidation state is represented by a Roman numeral placed after the element name inside a parenthesis or as a superscript after the element symbol.

Resonance (chemistry)

In chemistry, resonance is a way of describing bonding in certain molecules or ions by the combination of several contributing structures (or forms, also variously known as resonance structures or canonical structures) into a resonance hybrid (or hybrid structure) in valence bond theory. It has particular value for describing delocalized electrons within certain molecules or polyatomic ions where the bonding cannot be expressed by one single Lewis structure.

Single bond

In chemistry, a single bond is a chemical bond between two atoms involving two valence electrons. That is, the atoms share one pair of electrons where the bond forms. Therefore, a single bond is a type of covalent bond. When shared, each of the two electrons involved is no longer in the sole possession of the orbital in which it originated. Rather, both of the two electrons spend time in either of the orbitals which overlap in the bonding process. As a Lewis structure, a single bond is denoted as AːA or A-A, for which A represents an element (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 329). In the first rendition, each dot represents a shared electron, and in the second rendition, the bar represents both of the electrons shared in the single bond.

A covalent bond can also be a double bond or a triple bond. A single bond is weaker than either a double bond or a triple bond. This difference in strength can be explained by examining the component bonds of which each of these types of covalent bonds consists (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 393).

Usually, a single bond is a sigma bond. An exception is the bond in diboron, which is a pi bond. In contrast, the double bond consists of one sigma bond and one pi bond, and a triple bond consists of one sigma bond and two pi bonds (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 396). The number of component bonds is what determines the strength disparity. It stands to reason that the single bond is the weakest of the three because it consists of only a sigma bond, and the double bond or triple bond consist not only of this type of component bond but also at least one additional bond.

The single bond has the capacity for rotation, a property not possessed by the double bond or the triple bond. The structure of pi bonds does not allow for rotation (at least not at 298 K), so the double bond and the triple bond which contain pi bonds are held due to this property. The sigma bond is not so restrictive, and the single bond is able to rotate using the sigma bond as the axis of rotation (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 396-397).

Another property comparison can be made in bond length. Single bonds are the longest of the three types of covalent bonds as interatomic attraction is greater in the two other types, double and triple. The increase in component bonds is the reason for this attraction increase as more electrons are shared between the bonded atoms (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 343).

Single bonds are often seen in diatomic molecules. Examples of this use of single bonds include H2, F2, and HCl.

Single bonds are also seen in molecules made up of more than two atoms. Examples of this use of single bonds include:

Both bonds in H2O

All 4 bonds in CH4Single bonding even appears in molecules as complex as hydrocarbons larger than methane. The type of covalent bonding in hydrocarbons is extremely important in the nomenclature of these molecules. Hydrocarbons containing only single bonds are referred to as alkanes (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 334). The names of specific molecules which belong to this group end with the suffix –ane' Examples include ethane, 2-methylbutane, and cyclopentane (Moore, Stanitski, and Jurs 335).


The sulfate or sulphate (see spelling differences) ion is a polyatomic anion with the empirical formula SO2−4. Sulfate is the spelling recommended by IUPAC, but sulphate is used in British English. Salts, acid derivatives, and peroxides of sulfate are widely used in industry. Sulfates occur widely in everyday life. Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acid and many are prepared from that acid.

Triplet oxygen

Triplet oxygen, 3O2, refers to the S = 1 electronic ground state of molecular oxygen (dioxygen). It is the most stable and common allotrope of oxygen. Molecules of triplet oxygen contain two unpaired electrons, making triplet oxygen an unusual example of a stable and commonly encountered diradical. According to molecular orbital theory, the electron configuration of triplet oxygen has two electrons occupying two π molecular orbitals (MOs) of equal energy (that is, degenerate MOs). In accordance with Hund's rules, they remain unpaired and spin-parallel and account for the paramagnetism of molecular oxygen. These half-filled orbitals are antibonding in character, reducing the overall bond order of the molecule to 2 from a maximum value of 3 (e.g., dinitrogen), which occurs when these antibonding orbitals remain fully unoccupied. The molecular term symbol for triplet oxygen is 3Σ−g.

Valence bond theory

In chemistry, valence bond (VB) theory is one of the two basic theories, along with molecular orbital (MO) theory, that were developed to use the methods of quantum mechanics to explain chemical bonding. It focuses on how the atomic orbitals of the dissociated atoms combine to give individual chemical bonds when a molecule is formed. In contrast, molecular orbital theory has orbitals that cover the whole molecule.

Types of bonds
Valence bond theory
Molecular orbital theory


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