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Chapter 23 – Covalent bonding in carbon compounds

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:

Introduction

Of the large variety of matter that we see around us on a daily basis, a major chunk exists in the form of substances which we chemically refer to as compounds. Have you ever stopped to wonder why this takes place? Well, the underlying reason is actually quite simple. Every element in nature has an innate tendency to achieve stability. However, the presence of valence electrons in most prevents them from achieving their objective. Hence, they try to emulate the configuration of their nearest noble gases, who by virtue of having a completely filled outermost electron shell, end up becoming chemically inert.

Since elements other than inert gases are unable to achieve the coveted octet configuration or rule on their own, they usually end up combining with each other or with their neighbouring elements to accomplish their mission. In the process, they give rise to the phenomenon of chemical bonds which are primarily classified as being either covalent or ionic in nature. Of these, the covalent bonding in carbon compounds is the most widespread occurrence out there.

By definition, covalent bond refers to the chemical bond that occurs by an equal sharing of valence electrons between the two atoms that are taking part in the process. The participating pair of electrons are addressed as the bonding or shared pair. Usually those elements that possess extremely high ionisation energies and low electron affinities enter into a covalent bond with one another. Their inability to transfer electrons pushes them into an arrangement where they share electrons with one another in order to mutually achieve the stable octet configuration. The bond that exists between the atoms of the Oxygen and Nitrogen molecules are examples of covalent bonds.

Contrary to covalent bonds, elements that possess low ionisation energies and  extremely high electron affinities enter into an ionic bond with one another. An ionic bond is marked by its participating elements carrying out a transfer of valence electrons in order to achieve their stable octet configuration. Conventionally, the element that is classified as metal loses its valence electron and the one that is recognised as nonmetal accepts the said electron. 

Consequently, ionic bonds, unlike covalent, end up being electrostatic in nature. For this reason, ionic bonds are also referred to as electrovalent bonds. Additionally, when released in a solution, ionic compounds have a tendency to dissociate into their constituent ions. On the other hand, compounds formed on account of covalent bonding keep their molecular identity intact.

Covalent bonds are classified into three different categories, based solely on the number of shared electron pairs that the bond encompasses.

  • Single covalent bond- Covalent bond that involves the participation of only a single pair of shared electrons are referred to as single covalent bond. Normally, compounds formed by single covalent bonds are considered to be the most stable. However, in comparison to double and triple bonds they are weaker and also have a smaller density. The formation of the HCL molecule is a good example of a single covalent bond.
  • Double covalent bond- Covalent bond that involves the participation of two pairs of shared electrons are referred to as a double covalent bond. The formation of the carbon dioxide molecule is a good example of the double covalent bond.
  • Triple covalent bond- Covalent bond that involves the participation of three pairs of shared electrons are referred to as a triple covalent bond. Triple covalent bonds constitute the least stable type of covalent bonds. The formation of the nitrogen molecule is a prime example of the triple covalent bond.

In addition to being classified based on the number of shared electrons, covalent bonds are also classified into two other types based on the polarity of the bond that is forged- polar covalent bond and nonpolar covalent bond.

  • Polar Covalent Bond- A polar covalent bond takes place whenever there is an unequal sharing of electrons between the participating atoms. This takes place on account of the stark contrast in electronegativity quotients that exists between  both. For example, molecules formed in the course of hydrogen bonding are a manifestation of a polar covalent bond which renders the eventual molecule with an unbalanced electrostatic potential.
  • Nonpolar covalent bond- A nonpolar covalent bond takes place whenever there is equal sharing of electrons between the participating atoms. Here, there exists no electronegativity difference between them both. Formation of gas molecules such as Nitrogen is an example of a nonpolar covalent bond.

In a polarised covalent bond, you will always notice that the electron cloud is closer to that atom which holds a higher electronegativity quotient among the participant atoms. Consequently, the bond gives rise to the existence of a permanent dipole.

  • These bonds are directional in nature and the atoms that are involved in the bonding process exhibit definite orientations with respect to each other.
  • Compounds formed by covalent bonds exhibit comparatively low melting points as well as boiling points.
  • Due to the deficit of free electrons in the bond formation process, covalent compounds are poor conductors of electricity.
  • In general, covalent compounds are insoluble in water.

According to its electronic configuration, an atom of carbon is required to either gain four electrons or lose four electrons in order to attain its nearest inert gas configuration. However, two primary difficulties arise here:

  • Carbon cannot afford a C4- configuration by gaining four electrons as it becomes nearly impossible for 6 protons to support 10 electrons. As a result, the atom becomes unstable.
  • Likewise, carbon cannot afford a C4+ configuration either, as the removal of four electrons would necessitate an extremely high amount of energy. Consequently, this results in an unstable configuration as well.

Hence, to combat with the above mentioned cases, covalent bonding in carbon atom occurs between its outermost electrons to help it achieve stability.

What is bonding in carbon the covalent bond?

A molecule of carbon is formed on account of the four covalent bonds that is formed between its participating atoms

What are 5 examples of covalent bonds?

The 5 examples of covalent bonds are single, double, triple, polar, and nonpolar covalent bonds.

How does covalent bonding occur?

Covalent bonding takes place due to sharing of electrons that exist in the outermost shell of the participant atoms. 

Is carbon a covalent bond?

Yes, a molecule of carbon comes into existence on the back of four covalent bonds that its valence electrons take part in.

What are the 4 types of carbon bonds?

  • Four single bonds
  • Two double bonds
  • Two single bonds and one double bond
  • One single bond and one triple bond

Often, understanding the concepts of covalent bonding in carbon compounds requires adopting an immersive and highly interactive approach. With the help of MSVgo’s comprehensive video library, students not only gain an intuitive understanding of the various concepts that abound in these topics but also develop the ability of applying them to a practical setting. Consequently, this greatly advances their learning curve.

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