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Chemical bonding and molecular structure



Matter is made up of one or different type of elements.
Under normal conditions no other element exists as an
independent atom in nature, except noble gases. However, a group of atoms is found to exist together as one species having characteristic properties. Such a group of atoms is called a molecule. Obviously there must be some force which holds these constituent atoms together in the molecules. The attractive force which holds various constituents (atoms, ions, etc.) together in different chemical species is called a chemical bond. Since the formation of chemical compounds takes place as a result of combination of atoms of various elements in different ways, it raises many questions. Why do atoms combine? Why are only certain combinations possible? Why do some atoms combine while certain others do not? Why do molecules possess definite shapes? To answer such questions different theories and concepts have been put forward from time to time. These are Kössel-Lewis approach, Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) Theory, Valence Bond (VB) Theory and Molecular Orbital (MO) Theory. The evolution of various theories of valence
and the interpretation of the nature of chemical bonds have closely been related to the developments in the
understanding of the structure of atom, the electronic
configuration of elements and the periodic table. Every
system tends to be more stable and bonding is nature’s
way of lowering the energy of the system to attain stability.


In order to explain the formation of chemical bond in terms of electrons, a number of attempts were made, but it was only in 1916 when Kössel and Lewis succeeded independently in giving a satisfactory
explanation. They were the first to provide some logical explanation of valence which was based on the inertness of noble gases.

Lewis pictured the atom in terms of a positively charged ‘Kernel’ (the nucleus plus the inner electrons) and the outer shell that could accommodate a maximum of eight electrons. He, further assumed that these eight electrons occupy the corners of a cube which surround the ‘Kernel’. Thus the single outer shell electron of sodium would occupy one corner of the cube, while in the case of a noble gas all the eight corners would be
occupied. This octet of electrons, represents a particularly stable electronic arrangement.
Lewis postulated that atoms achieve the stable octet when they are linked by chemical bonds. In the case of sodium and chlorine, this can happen by the transfer of
an electron from sodium to chlorine thereby giving the Na+ and Cl– ions. In the case of other molecules like Cl2, H2, F2, etc., the bond is formed by the sharing of a pair of electrons between the atoms. In the process each atom attains a stable outer octet of electrons.

Lewis Symbols: In the formation of a molecule, only the outer shell electrons take part in chemical combination and they are known as valence electrons. The inner shell electrons are well protected and are generally
not involved in the combination process. G.N. Lewis, an American chemist introduced simple notations to represent valence electrons in an atom. These notations are called Lewis symbols