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covalent bond, in chemistry, the interatomic linkage that results from the sharing of an electron pair between two

atoms. The binding arises from the electrostatic attraction of their nuclei for the same electrons. A covalent bond forms when the bonded atoms have a lower total energy than that of widely separated atoms. A brief treatment of covalent bonds follows. For full treatment, see chemical bonding: Covalent bonds. Molecules that have covalent linkages include the inorganic substances hydrogen, nitrogen, chlorine, water, and ammonia (H2, N2, Cl2, H2O, NH3) together with all organic compounds. In structural representations of molecules, covalent bonds are indicated by solid lines connecting pairs of atoms; e.g.,

A single line indicates a bond between two atoms (i.e., involving one electron pair), double lines (=) indicate a double bond between two atoms (i.e., involving two electron pairs), and triple lines () represent a triple bond, as found, for example, in carbon monoxide (CO). Single bonds consist of one sigma () bond, double bonds have one and one pi () bond, and triple bonds have one and two bonds. The idea that two electrons can be shared between two atoms and serve as the link between them was first introduced in 1916 by the American chemist G.N. Lewis, who described the formation of such bonds as resulting from the tendencies of certain atoms to combine with one another in order for both to have the electronic structure of a corresponding noble-gas atom. Covalent bonds are directional, meaning that atoms so bonded prefer specific orientations relative to one another; this in turn gives molecules definite shapes, as in the angular (bent) structure of the H2O molecule. Covalent bonds between identical atoms (as in H2) are nonpolari.e., electrically uniformwhile those between unlike atoms are polar i.e., one atom is slightly negatively charged and the other is slightly positively charged. This partial ionic character of covalent bonds increases with the difference in the electronegativities of the two atoms. See also ionic bond. LINKS Related Articles <script src="http://adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5308.1/1371249/0/170/ADTECH;target=_bl ank;grp=184;key=science technology+science

math;kvqsegs=D;kvsource=other;kvtopicid=141012;kvchannel=SCIENCE;misc=132126 9022587"></script> Aspects of the topic covalent bond are discussed in the following places at Britannica.

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major reference (in crystal (physics): Covalent bonds) Silicon, carbon, germanium, and a few other elements form covalently bonded solids. In these elements there are four electrons in the outer sp-shell, which is half filled. (The sp-shell is a hybrid formed from one s and one p subshell.) In the covalent bond an atom shares one valence (outer-shell) electron with each of its four nearest neighbour atoms. The...

major treatment (in chemical bonding (chemistry): Covalent bonds) <script src="http://adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5308.1/1371251/0/170/ADTECH;tar get=_blank;grp=184;key=science technology+science math;kvqsegs=D;kvsource=other;kvtopicid=141012;kvchannel=SCIENCE;misc= 1321269022590"></script> When none of the elements in a compound is a metal, no atoms in the compound have an ionization energy low enough for electron loss to be likely. In such a case, covalence prevails. As a general rule, covalent bonds are formed between elements lying toward the right in the periodic table (i.e., the nonmetals). Molecules of identical atoms, such as H2 and buckminsterfullerene...

atomic structure (in atom (matter): Atomic bonds) ...described by quantum mechanics. When two atoms come near each other, they can share a pair of outermost electrons (think of the atoms as tossing the electrons back and forth between them) to form a covalent bond. Covalent bonds are particularly common in organic materials, where molecules often contain long chains of carbon atoms (which have four electrons in their valence shells).

bond compression (in high-pressure phenomena (physics): Compression) ...distancesoccurs to some extent in all compounds at high pressure. The magnitude of this effect has been shown both theoretically and empirically to be related to bond strength. Strong covalent carbon-carbon bonds in diamond experience the lowest percentage of compression: roughly 0.07 percent per GPa. Similarly, ionic bonds between highly charged cations and anions, such as bonds...

bond direction (in chemical bonding (chemistry): Molecular shapes and VSEPR theory)

There is a sharp distinction between ionic and covalent bonds when the geometric arrangements of atoms in compounds are considered. In essence, ionic bonding is nondirectional, whereas covalent bonding is directional. That is, in ionic compounds there is no intrinsically preferred direction in which a neighbour should lie for the strength of bonding to be maximized. In contrast, in a covalently...

comparison with ionic bond (in ionic bond (chemistry)) An ionic bond is actually the extreme case of a polar covalent bond, the latter resulting from unequal sharing of electrons rather than complete electron transfer. Ionic bonds typically form when the difference in the electronegativities of the two atoms is great, while covalent bonds form when the electronegativities are similar. Compare covalent bond.

enzymatic action (in protein (biochemistry): The mechanism of enzymatic action) ...are called a binary complex. The substrates are attracted to the active site by electrostatic and hydrophobic forces, which are called noncovalent bonds because they are physical attractions and not chemical bonds (see above The role of the active site).

Lewis acid definition (in acidbase reaction (chemistry): Alternative definitions) <script src="http://adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5308.1/1371251/0/170/ADTECH;tar get=_blank;grp=184;key=science technology+science math;kvqsegs=D;kvsource=other;kvtopicid=141012;kvchannel=SCIENCE;misc= 1321269022592"></script> According to Lewis, an acid is a species that can accept an electron pair from a base with the formation of a chemical bond composed of a shared electron pair (covalent bond). This classification includes as bases the same species covered by the BrnstedLowry definition, since a molecule or ion that can accept a proton does so because it has one or more unshared pairs of...

molecular polarity (in chemical bonding (chemistry): The polarity of molecules) ...for the shared electron pair is so great that it effectively exercises complete control over them. That is, it has gained possession of the pair, and the bond is best regarded as ionic. Ionic and covalent bonding therefore can be regarded as constituting a continuum rather than as alternatives. This continuum can be expressed in terms of resonance by regarding a bond between atoms A and B as...

molecular structure (in molecule (chemistry);

Molecules are held together by shared electron pairs, or covalent bonds. Such bonds are directional, meaning that the atoms adopt specific positions relative to one another so as to maximize the bond strengths. As a result, each molecule has a definite, fairly rigid structure, or spatial distribution of its atoms. Structural chemistry is concerned with valence, which determines how atoms... in chemistry: Ionic and covalent bonding ) The second way in which the two outer electrons of atoms A and B can respond to the approach of A and B is to pair up to form a covalent bond. In the simple view known as the valence-bond model, in which electrons are treated strictly as particles, the two paired electrons are assumed to lie between the two nuclei and are shared equally by atoms A and B, resulting in a covalent bond. Atoms...

oxides (in oxide (chemical compound)) ...metals (in their lower oxidation states), form ionic oxidesi.e., compounds that contain the O2 anion. Metals with high oxidation states form oxides whose bonds have a more covalent nature. Nonmetals also form covalent oxides, which are usually molecular in character. A smooth variation from ionic to covalent in the type of bonding in oxides is observed as the periodic...

periodic table structure (in periodic law (chemistry): Periodicity of properties of the elements) ...can form negative ions with the noble-gas configuration by gaining electrons; the negative ionic valences of these elements are equal to the difference between eight and their group numbers. The covalence (or number of shared electron pairs) of an atom is determined by its electron number and the stable orbitals available to it. An atom such as fluorine, with seven electrons in its outer...

properties of

carbon group elements (in crystal (physics): Structures of nonmetallic elements) The elements in the fourth row of the periodic tablecarbon, silicon, germanium (Ge), and -tin (-Sn)prefer covalent bonding. Carbon has several possible crystal structures. Each atom in the covalent bond has four first-neighbours, which are at the corners of a tetrahedron. This arrangement is called the diamond lattice and is shown in Figure 3C. There are two atoms in...

ceramics (in ceramic composition and properties (ceramics): Chemical bonds) ...electrons from electropositive atoms (cations) to electronegative atoms (anions), or they are covalent in character, involving orbital sharing of electrons between

the constituent atoms or ions. Covalent bonds are highly directional in nature, often dictating the types of crystal structure possible. Ionic bonds, on the other hand, are entirely nondirectional. This nondirectional nature...

conjugated proteins (in protein (biochemistry): Combination of proteins with prosthetic groups) The link between a protein molecule and its prosthetic group is a covalent (electron-sharing) bond in the glycoproteins, the biliproteins, and some of the heme proteins. In lipoproteins, nucleoproteins, and some heme proteins, the two components are linked by noncovalent bonds; the bonding results from the same forces that are responsible for the tertiary structure of proteins: hydrogen bonds,...

coordination compounds (in coordination compound (chemistry): Structure and bonding of coordination compounds) ...because the central atoms carry the capacity to form secondary, or coordinate, bonds, in addition to the normal, or valence, bonds. A more complete description of coordinate bonding, in terms of electron pairs, became possible in the 1920s, following the introduction of the concept that all covalent bonds consist of electron pairs shared between atoms, an idea advanced chiefly by the...

halogens (in halogen element (chemical element group): Relative reactivity) Within a molecule in which atoms are held together by a shared electron pair (i.e., by a covalent or nonionic bond), the tendency of an atom to attract the shared electrons may be expressed by an electronegativity value. According to American chemist Linus Pauling, Electronegativity is the power of an atom in a molecule to attract electrons to itself. Fluorine possesses the...

hydrocarbons (in hydrocarbon (chemical compound): Physical properties) Alkanes and cycloalkanes are nonpolar substances. Attractive forces between alkane molecules are dictated by London forces (or dispersion forces, arising from electron fluctuations in molecules; see chemical bonding: Intermolecular forces) and are weak. Thus, alkanes have relatively low boiling points compared with polar molecules of comparable molecular weight. The...

minerals (in mineral (chemical compound): Covalent bonds) In the discussion of the ionic bond, it was noted that chlorine readily gains an electron to achieve a stable electron configuration. An incomplete outer orbital places a chlorine atom in a highly reactive state, so it attempts to combine with nearly any atom in its proximity. Because its closest neighbour is usually another chlorine atom, the two may bond together by sharing one pair of...

nitrogen elements (in nitrogen group element (chemical elements): Similarities in orbital arrangement) <script src="http://adserver.adtechus.com/addyn/3.0/5308.1/1371251/0/170/ADTECH;tar get=_blank;grp=184;key=science technology+science math;kvqsegs=D;kvsource=other;kvtopicid=141012;kvchannel=SCIENCE;misc= 1321269022594"></script> Another similarity among the nitrogen elements is the existence of an unshared, or lone, pair of electrons, which remains after the three covalent bonds, or their equivalent, have been formed. This lone pair permits the molecule to act as an electron pair donor in the formation of molecular addition compounds and complexes. The availability of the lone pair depends upon various factors, such as...

nonmetallic elements (in chemical compound: Trends in the chemical properties of the elements) In contrast, when two nonmetallic elements react, the atoms combine to form molecules by sharing electrons. Bonds formed by electron sharing between atoms are called covalent bonds. The electrons are shared rather than transferred, because the two nonmetal atoms have comparable attractive powers for the electrons in the bond. For example, fluorine gas consists of F2 molecules in...

organometallic compounds (in organometallic compound (chemical compound)) The properties of the organometallic compounds depend in large measure on the type of carbon-metal bonds involved. Some are ordinary covalent bonds, in which pairs of electrons are shared between atoms. Others are multicentre covalent bonds, in which the bonding involves more than two atoms. A third type are ionic bonds, in which the bonding electron pair is donated by only one atom. In...

semiconductors (in semiconductor device (electronics): Electronic properties) ...crystal is surrounded by four of its nearest neighbours. Each atom has four electrons in its outer orbit and shares these electrons with its four neighbours. Each shared electron pair constitutes a covalent bond. The force of attraction for the electrons by both nuclei holds the two atoms together.

zinc elements (in zinc group element (chemistry): Chemical reactivity) ...can be removed under conditions that can provide the necessary energy, such as intense heat or powerful electric or magnetic fields. These three elements tend to use the two outer electrons for covalent bonding; this tendency is most marked in the case of mercury, less so in that of zinc, an