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Method of writing Lewis Structures
The following steps should be adopted: 1) Calculate the total number of electrons required for writing the structure by adding the valence electrons of the combining atoms,e.g. in CO2 molecule there are 16 valence electrons,4 from carbon and 12 from two oxygen atoms (6 each). 2) For anions, each negative charge means addition of an electron to the valence electrons and for cations each positive charge means subtraction of electrons from the valence electrons e.g. O2- means 2 electrons are added to the valence electrons of oxygen atom (6+2) and Li+ means 1 electron is removed from the valence electrons of lithium atom (3 -1). 1) Write the skeletal structure of the compound and distribute the total number of electrons as bonding shared pairs between the atoms in proportion to the total bonds. 2) The least electronegative atoms should occupy the central position in the molecule. For example in CO2 molecule carbon is least electronegative. Hence it will occupy central position. Hydrogen and Fluorine generally occupy the terminal position. 3) After distributing the shared pairs of electrons for single bond the remaining electron pairs can be used either for multiple bonds or as lone pairs. 4) Basically each bonded atom should have an octet of electrons The above steps can be understood with the following example The Lewis formula for carbon monoxide (CO) 1) The total number of valence electrons are 4 (C)+6(O)=10 2) The skeletal structure of CO is written as CO 3) Drawing of a single bond between C and O and completing the octet on O, the remaining 2 electrons are the lone pairs on C
4) This does not complete octet on carbon atom and hence we have triple bond between C & O atoms.
This satisfies octet rule condition for both atoms.