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General Chemistry: Principles, Patterns, and Applications, v. 1.0 (2 Volume Set)

by Bruce Averill and Patricia Eldredge

8.1 An Overview of Chemical Bonding

Learning Objective

  1. To present three common features of chemical bonding.

In Chapter 2 "Molecules, Ions, and Chemical Formulas", we defined a chemical bond as the force that holds atoms together in a chemical compound. We also introduced two idealized types of bonding: covalent bondingA type of chemical bonding in which electrons are shared between atoms in a molecule or polyatomic ion., in which electrons are shared between atoms in a molecule or polyatomic ion, and ionic bondingA type of chemical bonding in which positively and negatively charged ions are held together by electrostatic forces., in which positively and negatively charged ions are held together by electrostatic forces. The concepts of covalent and ionic bonding were developed to explain the properties of different kinds of chemical substances. Ionic compounds, for example, typically dissolve in water to form aqueous solutions that conduct electricity. (For more information about solution conductivity, see Chapter 4 "Reactions in Aqueous Solution", Chapter 4, Section 1 "Aqueous Solutions".) In contrast, most covalent compounds that dissolve in water form solutions that do not conduct electricity. Furthermore, many covalent compounds are volatile, whereas ionic compounds are not.

Despite the differences in the distribution of electrons between these two idealized types of bonding, all models of chemical bonding have three features in common:

  1. Atoms interact with one another to form aggregates such as molecules, compounds, and crystals because doing so lowers the total energy of the system; that is, the aggregates are more stable than the isolated atoms.
  2. Energy is required to dissociate bonded atoms or ions into isolated atoms or ions. For ionic solids, in which the ions form a three-dimensional array called a lattice, this energy is called the lattice energy(U)The enthalpy change that occurs when a solid ionic compound (whose ions form a three-dimensional array called a lattice) is transformed into gaseous ions., the enthalpy change that occurs when a solid ionic compound is transformed into gaseous ions. For covalent compounds, this energy is called the bond energyThe enthalpy change that occurs when a given bond in a gaseous molecule is broken., which is the enthalpy change that occurs when a given bond in a gaseous molecule is broken.
  3. Each chemical bond is characterized by a particular optimal internuclear distance called the bond distance(r0)The optimal internuclear distance between two bonded atoms..

Note the Pattern

Energy is required to dissociate bonded atoms or ions.

We explore these characteristics further, after briefly describing the energetic factors involved in the formation of an ionic bond.

Summary

Chemical bonding is the general term used to describe the forces that hold atoms together in molecules and ions. Two idealized types of bonding are ionic bonding, in which positively and negatively charged ions are held together by electrostatic forces, and covalent bonding, in which electron pairs are shared between atoms. All models of chemical bonding have three common features: atoms form bonds because the products are more stable than the isolated atoms; bonding interactions are characterized by a particular energy (the bond energy or lattice energy), which is the amount of energy required to dissociate the substance into its components; and bonding interactions have an optimal internuclear distance, the bond distance.

Key Takeaway

  • Forming bonds lowers the total energy of the system, energy is required to dissociate bonded atoms or ions, and there is an optimal bond distance.

Conceptual Problems

  1. Describe the differences between covalent bonding and ionic bonding. Which best describes the bonding in MgCl2 and PF5?

  2. What three features do all chemical bonds have in common?