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Chemistry 11 – Chemical Bonding Notes

Why do chemical bonds form?

Back in atomic theory, we remember that all atoms would like to have a full and complete outer
shell of electrons.

To do so, an atom would have to either give their electrons away to another atom, or take
electrons from another atom. Thus, a relationship, or a bond has to form between two atoms.

What determines whether an atom gives or takes electrons?

Earlier in the year, we also discussed about the concept of electronegativity, where an atom has
a certain degree of attractiveness for electrons.

If an atom has a high electronegativity, it strongly attracts electrons from another atom. Thus, it
will tend to take electrons away from another atom to complete their outer shell. These atoms
are usually the non-metals.

If an atom has a low electronegativity, it doesn’t like to attract electrons from other atoms, nor
like its own outer electrons either. It would rather give them away to another atom to obtain a
full (inner) shell. These atoms are usually the metals.

What kind of bonds can be formed between atoms?

When a metal atom and a non-metal atom get together, an ionic bond is formed between them.

Electrons from the metal atom are transferred to the non-metal atom, which creates a positive metal
ion and a negative non-metal ion. The attraction of these charges together forms the ionic bond.

• Ionic bond: formed by the attraction of positive ions to negative ions

If we draw a Lewis structure showing only the outer electrons for each atom, the following
would represent an ionic bond between two atoms:

Li + F Æ Li+ F–

F takes valence e– from Li

Ionic bonds are really strong, so compounds that are held together by ionic bonds have high
melting temperatures because they require a lot of energy to break those bonds. For example,
LiF has a melting temperature of 845°C.
What happens if two atoms both have high electronegativities?

When two non-metal atoms get together, they both have strong tendencies to attract electrons
from each other. Since both are not willing to part with their electrons, they decide to share
them in a covalent bond.

• Covalent bond: a bond which involves sharing of electrons between two non-metal atoms
to obtain complete outer shells

Example: F + F Æ F F

Each F atom will share Each F can now say it has

one e– with each other 8 e– at any given time.

Covalent bonds tend to be quite strong, with some compounds having double (eg. O2) and even
triple (eg. N2) covalent bonds between their atoms.

How do you predict the formula of covalent compounds?

To predict the formula of a covalent compound made from two different elements, we use the
combining capacity (or the valence) of each element.

• Combining Capacity: number of bonds which an atom is expected to form when

involved in covalent bonding

The following are the combining capacities for the elements in each group or column on the
periodic table:

Group 1 2 13 14 15 16 17 18
Combining 1 2 3 4 3 2 1 0

Two steps in predicting the formula:

1. Write the combining capacities above each element in the formula.
2. Crossover the combining capacities so they become subscripts in the formula

Example: Predict the formula of the compound formed from P and O.

P is in Group 15 Æ Combining capacity is 3

O is in Group 16 Æ Combining capacity is 2

3 2
P O Æ P2O3
Is there another way to determine what type of bond two atoms will form with each other?

An American scientist named Linus Pauling devised a method of calculating the

electronegativities of atoms in chemical bonds. He assigned each element an electronegativity
value as shown on the table below:

The difference between the electronegativities of two atoms in a bond can be used as a guide to
determine if an ionic or covalent bond is formed.

If the difference is:

• Greater than 1.7, an ionic bond is formed between the two atoms
• Less than 0.2, a nonpolar covalent bond is formed (bonding e– shared equally)
• Between 0.3 and 1.6, a polar covalent bond is formed (bonding e– shared unequally)

Example: Classify the bond that is formed in NaF.

Na has an value of 0.9 and F has a value of 4.0

Difference is 4.0 – 0.9 = 3.1 (Therefore, ionic bond is formed!)

Try to classify the bond formed in each of these compounds: HBr, Cl2 and MgI2
Are there any forces interacting between two molecules?

So far we talked about the bond between two atoms within a molecule. These bonds are usually
strong and are known as intramolecular forces.

There are also forces that act between two molecules that are close to each other. They are
responsible for holding the molecules together especially in the solid and liquid phases.

These intermolecular forces are called van der Waals forces. One type of van der Waals force
is called the London force.

• London Force: weak attractive force that arise as a result of temporary dipolar attractions
between neighbouring atoms or molecules

When two molecules are close together, the electrons on one molecule are repelled by the
electrons on another molecule (like repels like). Thus, the electrons migrate to a different region
on the molecule.

This exposes the positively charged nucleus which the electrons are attracted to. The formation
of a temporary negative and positive end of a molecule is known as a dipole. London forces
result when the dipoles of two molecules are attracted to one another.

e– e–
+2 +2 Æ δ– δ+ δ– δ+
– –
e e

e– distribution in He atoms temporarily A temporary dipole is created

more to one side in atom than the other

London forces are always present, but are the weakest type of bonding force known when
compared to ionic and covalent bonds.

London forces are important between two noble gas atoms, and two covalent molecules.
[Eg. He (l), CH4 (l), H2 (l)]

Also, the more electrons an atom or molecule has altogether (greater the atomic number), the
stronger the London forces will be!

H –– H |||||||||| H –– H

Covalent Bond London Force