Lewis structure

Last updated
Lewis structure of a water molecule. Freie Elektronenpaare Wasser V3.svg
Lewis structure of a water molecule.

Lewis structures, also known as Lewis dot formulas,Lewis dot structures, electron dot structures, or Lewis electron dot structures (LEDS), are diagrams that show the bonding between atoms of a molecule, as well as the lone pairs of electrons that may exist in the molecule. [1] [2] [3] A Lewis structure can be drawn for any covalently bonded molecule, as well as coordination compounds. The Lewis structure was named after Gilbert N. Lewis, who introduced it in his 1916 article The Atom and the Molecule. [4] Lewis structures extend the concept of the electron dot diagram by adding lines between atoms to represent shared pairs in a chemical bond.

Contents

Lewis structures show each atom and its position in the structure of the molecule using its chemical symbol. Lines are drawn between atoms that are bonded to one another (pairs of dots can be used instead of lines). Excess electrons that form lone pairs are represented as pairs of dots, and are placed next to the atoms.

Although main group elements of the second period and beyond usually react by gaining, losing, or sharing electrons until they have achieved a valence shell electron configuration with a full octet of (8) electrons, hydrogen (H) can only form bonds which share just two electrons.

Construction and electron counting

The total number of electrons represented in a Lewis structure is equal to the sum of the numbers of valence electrons on each individual atom. Non-valence electrons are not represented in Lewis structures.

Once the total number of available electrons has been determined, electrons must be placed into the structure according to these steps:

  1. The atoms are first connected by single bonds.
  2. If t is the total number of electrons and n the number of single bonds, t-2n electrons remain to be placed. These should be placed as lone pairs: one pair of dots for each pair of electrons available. Lone pairs should initially be placed on outer atoms (other than hydrogen) until each outer atom has eight electrons in bonding pairs and lone pairs; extra lone pairs may then be placed on the central atom. When in doubt, lone pairs should be placed on more electronegative atoms first.
  3. Once all lone pairs are placed, atoms (especially the central atoms) may not have an octet of electrons. In this case, the atoms must form a double bond; a lone pair of electrons is moved to form a second bond between the two atoms. As the bonding pair is shared between the two atoms, the atom that originally had the lone pair still has an octet; the other atom now has two more electrons in its valence shell.

Lewis structures for polyatomic ions may be drawn by the same method. When counting electrons, negative ions should have extra electrons placed in their Lewis structures; positive ions should have fewer electrons than an uncharged molecule. When the Lewis structure of an ion is written, the entire structure is placed in brackets, and the charge is written as a superscript on the upper right, outside the brackets.

A simpler method has been proposed for constructing Lewis structures, eliminating the need for electron counting: the atoms are drawn showing the valence electrons; bonds are then formed by pairing up valence electrons of the atoms involved in the bond-making process, and anions and cations are formed by adding or removing electrons to/from the appropriate atoms. [5]

A trick is to count up valence electrons, then count up the number of electrons needed to complete the octet rule (or with hydrogen just 2 electrons), then take the difference of these two numbers. The answer is the number of electrons that make up the bonds. The rest of the electrons just go to fill all the other atoms' octets.

Another simple and general procedure to write Lewis structures and resonance forms has been proposed. [6]

Formal charge

In terms of Lewis structures, formal charge is used in the description, comparison, and assessment of likely topological and resonance structures [7] by determining the apparent electronic charge of each atom within, based upon its electron dot structure, assuming exclusive covalency or non-polar bonding. It has uses in determining possible electron re-configuration when referring to reaction mechanisms, and often results in the same sign as the partial charge of the atom, with exceptions. In general, the formal charge of an atom can be calculated using the following formula, assuming non-standard definitions for the markup used:

where:

The formal charge of an atom is computed as the difference between the number of valence electrons that a neutral atom would have and the number of electrons that belong to it in the Lewis structure. Electrons in covalent bonds are split equally between the atoms involved in the bond. The total of the formal charges on an ion should be equal to the charge on the ion, and the total of the formal charges on a neutral molecule should be equal to zero.

Resonance

For some molecules and ions, it is difficult to determine which lone pairs should be moved to form double or triple bonds, and two or more different resonance structures may be written for the same molecule or ion. In such cases it is usual to write all of them with two-way arrows in between (see Example below). This is sometimes the case when multiple atoms of the same type surround the central atom, and is especially common for polyatomic ions.

When this situation occurs, the molecule's Lewis structure is said to be a resonance structure, and the molecule exists as a resonance hybrid. Each of the different possibilities is superimposed on the others, and the molecule is considered to have a Lewis structure equivalent to some combination of these states.

The nitrate ion (NO3), for instance, must form a double bond between nitrogen and one of the oxygens to satisfy the octet rule for nitrogen. However, because the molecule is symmetrical, it does not matter which of the oxygens forms the double bond. In this case, there are three possible resonance structures. Expressing resonance when drawing Lewis structures may be done either by drawing each of the possible resonance forms and placing double-headed arrows between them or by using dashed lines to represent the partial bonds (although the latter is a good representation of the resonance hybrid which is not, formally speaking, a Lewis structure).

When comparing resonance structures for the same molecule, usually those with the fewest formal charges contribute more to the overall resonance hybrid. When formal charges are necessary, resonance structures that have negative charges on the more electronegative elements and positive charges on the less electronegative elements are favored.

Single bonds can also be moved in the same way to create resonance structures for hypervalent molecules such as sulfur hexafluoride, which is the correct description according to quantum chemical calculations instead of the common expanded octet model.

The resonance structure should not be interpreted to indicate that the molecule switches between forms, but that the molecule acts as the average of multiple forms.

Example

The formula of the nitrite ion is NO2.

  1. Nitrogen is the least electronegative atom of the two, so it is the central atom by multiple criteria.
  2. Count valence electrons. Nitrogen has 5 valence electrons; each oxygen has 6, for a total of (6 × 2) + 5 = 17. The ion has a charge of −1, which indicates an extra electron, so the total number of electrons is 18.
  3. Connect the atoms by single bonds. Each oxygen must be bonded to the nitrogen, which uses four electrons—two in each bond.
  4. Place lone pairs. The 14 remaining electrons should initially be placed as 7 lone pairs. Each oxygen may take a maximum of 3 lone pairs, giving each oxygen 8 electrons including the bonding pair. The seventh lone pair must be placed on the nitrogen atom.
  5. Satisfy the octet rule. Both oxygen atoms currently have 8 electrons assigned to them. The nitrogen atom has only 6 electrons assigned to it. One of the lone pairs on an oxygen atom must form a double bond, but either atom will work equally well. Therefore, there is a resonance structure.
  6. Tie up loose ends. Two Lewis structures must be drawn: Each structure has one of the two oxygen atoms double-bonded to the nitrogen atom. The second oxygen atom in each structure will be single-bonded to the nitrogen atom. Place brackets around each structure, and add the charge (−) to the upper right outside the brackets. Draw a double-headed arrow between the two resonance forms.
Nitrite-ion-lewis-canonical.png

Alternative formations

Two varieties of condensed structural formula, both showing butane
A skeletal diagram of butane Butane-skeletal.png
A skeletal diagram of butane

Chemical structures may be written in more compact forms, particularly when showing organic molecules. In condensed structural formulas, many or even all of the covalent bonds may be left out, with subscripts indicating the number of identical groups attached to a particular atom. Another shorthand structural diagram is the skeletal formula (also known as a bond-line formula or carbon skeleton diagram). In a skeletal formula, carbon atoms are not signified by the symbol C but by the vertices of the lines. Hydrogen atoms bonded to carbon are not shown—they can be inferred by counting the number of bonds to a particular carbon atom—each carbon is assumed to have four bonds in total, so any bonds not shown are, by implication, to hydrogen atoms.

Other diagrams may be more complex than Lewis structures, showing bonds in 3D using various forms such as space-filling diagrams.

Usage and limitations

Despite their simplicity and development in the early twentieth century, when understanding of chemical bonding was still rudimentary, Lewis structures capture many of the key features of the electronic structure of a range of molecular systems, including those of relevance to chemical reactivity. Thus, they continue to enjoy widespread use by chemists and chemistry educators. This is especially true in the field of organic chemistry, where the traditional valence-bond model of bonding still dominates, and mechanisms are often understood in terms of curve-arrow notation superimposed upon skeletal formulae, which are shorthand versions of Lewis structures. Due to the greater variety of bonding schemes encountered in inorganic and organometallic chemistry, many of the molecules encountered require the use of fully delocalized molecular orbitals to adequately describe their bonding, making Lewis structures comparatively less important (although they are still common).

It is important to note that there are simple and archetypal molecular systems for which a Lewis description, at least in unmodified form, is misleading or inaccurate. Notably, the naive drawing of Lewis structures for molecules known experimentally to contain unpaired electrons (e.g., O2, NO, and ClO2) leads to incorrect inferences of bond orders, bond lengths, and/or magnetic properties. A simple Lewis model also does not account for the phenomenon of aromaticity. For instance, Lewis structures do not offer an explanation for why cyclic C6H6 (benzene) experiences special stabilization beyond normal delocalization effects, while C4H4 (cyclobutadiene) actually experiences a special destabilization. Molecular orbital theory provides the most straightforward explanation for these phenomena.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chemical bond</span> Lasting attraction between atoms that enables the formation of chemical compounds

A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atoms, ions or molecules that enables the formation of chemical compounds. The bond may result from the electrostatic force between oppositely charged ions as in ionic bonds or through the sharing of electrons as in covalent bonds. The strength of chemical bonds varies considerably; there are "strong bonds" or "primary bonds" such as covalent, ionic and metallic bonds, and "weak bonds" or "secondary bonds" such as dipole–dipole interactions, the London dispersion force and hydrogen bonding.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Covalent bond</span> Chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms

A covalent bond is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electrons to form electron pairs between atoms. These electron pairs are known as shared pairs or bonding pairs, and the stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms, when they share electrons, is known as covalent bonding. For many molecules, the sharing of electrons allows each atom to attain the equivalent of a full valence shell, corresponding to a stable electronic configuration. In organic chemistry, covalent bonding is much more common than ionic bonding.

In coordination chemistry, a coordinate covalent bond, also known as a dative bond, dipolar bond, or coordinate bond is a kind of two-center, two-electron covalent bond in which the two electrons derive from the same atom. The bonding of metal ions to ligands involves this kind of interaction. This type of interaction is central to Lewis acid–base theory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Structural formula</span> Graphic representation of a molecular structure

The structural formula of a chemical compound is a graphic representation of the molecular structure, showing how the atoms are possibly arranged in the real three-dimensional space. The chemical bonding within the molecule is also shown, either explicitly or implicitly. Unlike other chemical formula types, which have a limited number of symbols and are capable of only limited descriptive power, structural formulas provide a more complete geometric representation of the molecular structure. For example, many chemical compounds exist in different isomeric forms, which have different enantiomeric structures but the same molecular formula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conjugated system</span> System of connected p-orbitals with delocalized electrons in a molecule

In theoretical chemistry, a conjugated system is a system of connected p-orbitals with delocalized electrons in a molecule, which in general lowers the overall energy of the molecule and increases stability. It is conventionally represented as having alternating single and multiple bonds. Lone pairs, radicals or carbenium ions may be part of the system, which may be cyclic, acyclic, linear or mixed. The term "conjugated" was coined in 1899 by the German chemist Johannes Thiele.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Octet rule</span> Chemical rule of thumb

The octet rule is a chemical rule of thumb that reflects the theory that main-group elements tend to bond in such a way that each atom has eight electrons in its valence shell, giving it the same electronic configuration as a noble gas. The rule is especially applicable to carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and the halogens; although more generally the rule is applicable for the s-block and p-block of the periodic table. Other rules exist for other elements, such as the duplet rule for hydrogen and helium, or the 18-electron rule for transition metals.

In chemistry, resonance, also called mesomerism, is a way of describing bonding in certain molecules or polyatomic ions by the combination of several contributing structures into a resonance hybrid in valence bond theory. It has particular value for analyzing delocalized electrons where the bonding cannot be expressed by one single Lewis structure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lone pair</span> Pair of valence electrons which are not shared with another atom in a covalent bond

In chemistry, a lone pair refers to a pair of valence electrons that are not shared with another atom in a covalent bond and is sometimes called an unshared pair or non-bonding pair. Lone pairs are found in the outermost electron shell of atoms. They can be identified by using a Lewis structure. Electron pairs are therefore considered lone pairs if two electrons are paired but are not used in chemical bonding. Thus, the number of electrons in lone pairs plus the number of electrons in bonds equals the number of valence electrons around an atom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Skeletal formula</span> Representation method in chemistry

The skeletal formula, or line-angle formula or shorthand formula, of an organic compound is a type of molecular structural formula that serves as a shorthand representation of a molecule's bonding and some details of its molecular geometry. A skeletal formula shows the skeletal structure or skeleton of a molecule, which is composed of the skeletal atoms that make up the molecule. It is represented in two dimensions, as on a piece of paper. It employs certain conventions to represent carbon and hydrogen atoms, which are the most common in organic chemistry.

In chemistry, a hypervalent molecule is a molecule that contains one or more main group elements apparently bearing more than eight electrons in their valence shells. Phosphorus pentachloride, sulfur hexafluoride, chlorine trifluoride, the chlorite ion, and the triiodide ion are examples of hypervalent molecules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">VSEPR theory</span> Model for predicting molecular geometry

Valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) theory, is a model used in chemistry to predict the geometry of individual molecules from the number of electron pairs surrounding their central atoms. It is also named the Gillespie-Nyholm theory after its two main developers, Ronald Gillespie and Ronald Nyholm.

In chemistry, orbital hybridisation is the concept of mixing atomic orbitals to form new hybrid orbitals suitable for the pairing of electrons to form chemical bonds in valence bond theory. For example, in a carbon atom which forms four single bonds the valence-shell s orbital combines with three valence-shell p orbitals to form four equivalent sp3 mixtures in a tetrahedral arrangement around the carbon to bond to four different atoms. Hybrid orbitals are useful in the explanation of molecular geometry and atomic bonding properties and are symmetrically disposed in space. Usually hybrid orbitals are formed by mixing atomic orbitals of comparable energies.

In chemistry, the valence or valency of an element is the measure of its combining capacity with other atoms when it forms chemical compounds or molecules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Formal charge</span>

In chemistry, a formal charge in the covalent view of chemical bonding, is the charge assigned to an atom in a molecule, assuming that electrons in all chemical bonds are shared equally between atoms, regardless of relative electronegativity. In simple terms, formal charge is the difference between the number of valence electrons of an atom in a neutral free state and the number assigned to that atom in a Lewis structure. When determining the best Lewis structure for a molecule, the structure is chosen such that the formal charge on each of the atoms is as close to zero as possible.

The 3-center 4-electron (3c–4e) bond is a model used to explain bonding in certain hypervalent molecules such as tetratomic and hexatomic interhalogen compounds, sulfur tetrafluoride, the xenon fluorides, and the bifluoride ion. It is also known as the Pimentel–Rundle three-center model after the work published by George C. Pimentel in 1951, which built on concepts developed earlier by Robert E. Rundle for electron-deficient bonding. An extended version of this model is used to describe the whole class of hypervalent molecules such as phosphorus pentafluoride and sulfur hexafluoride as well as multi-center π-bonding such as ozone and sulfur trioxide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tetrahedral molecular geometry</span> Central atom with four substituents located at the corners of a tetrahedron

In a tetrahedral molecular geometry, a central atom is located at the center with four substituents that are located at the corners of a tetrahedron. The bond angles are cos−1(−13) = 109.4712206...° ≈ 109.5° when all four substituents are the same, as in methane as well as its heavier analogues. Methane and other perfectly symmetrical tetrahedral molecules belong to point group Td, but most tetrahedral molecules have lower symmetry. Tetrahedral molecules can be chiral.

The bond valencemethod or mean method is a popular method in coordination chemistry to estimate the oxidation states of atoms. It is derived from the bond valence model, which is a simple yet robust model for validating chemical structures with localized bonds or used to predict some of their properties. This model is a development of Pauling's rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of molecular theory</span> Aspect of history

In chemistry, the history of molecular theory traces the origins of the concept or idea of the existence of strong chemical bonds between two or more atoms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mass spectral interpretation</span>

Mass spectral interpretation is the method employed to identify the chemical formula, characteristic fragment patterns and possible fragment ions from the mass spectra. Mass spectra is a plot of relative abundance against mass-to-charge ratio. It is commonly used for the identification of organic compounds from electron ionization mass spectrometry. Organic chemists obtain mass spectra of chemical compounds as part of structure elucidation and the analysis is part of many organic chemistry curricula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Linnett double-quartet theory</span>

Linnett double-quartet theory (LDQ) is a method of describing the bonding in molecules which involves separating the electrons depending on their spin, placing them into separate 'spin tetrahedra' to minimise the Pauli repulsions between electrons of the same spin. Introduced by J. W. Linnett in his 1961 monograph and 1964 book, this method expands on the electron dot structures pioneered by G. N. Lewis. While the theory retains the requirement for fulfilling the octet rule, it dispenses with the need to force electrons into coincident pairs. Instead, the theory stipulates that the four electrons of a given spin should maximise the distances between each other, resulting in a net tetrahedral electronic arrangement that is the fundamental molecular building block of the theory.

References

  1. IUPAC definition of Lewis formula
  2. Zumdahl, S. (2005) Chemical Principles Houghton-Mifflin ( ISBN   0-618-37206-7)
  3. G.L. Miessler; D.A. Tarr (2003), Inorganic Chemistry (2nd ed.), Pearson Prentice–Hall, ISBN   0-13-035471-6
  4. Lewis, G. N. (1916), "The Atom and the Molecule", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 38 (4): 762–85, doi:10.1021/ja02261a002
  5. Miburo, Barnabe B. (1993), "Simplified Lewis Structure Drawing for Non-science Majors", J. Chem. Educ. , 75 (3): 317, Bibcode:1998JChEd..75..317M, doi:10.1021/ed075p317
  6. Lever, A. B. P. (1972), "Lewis Structures and the Octet Rule", J. Chem. Educ. , 49 (12): 819, Bibcode:1972JChEd..49..819L, doi:10.1021/ed049p819
  7. Miessler, G. L. and Tarr, D. A., Inorganic Chemistry (2nd ed., Prentice Hall 1998) ISBN   0-13-841891-8, pp. 49–53 – Explanation of formal charge usage.