C2.1 Structure and bonding
The arrangement of electrons in atoms can be used to explain what happens when elements react and how atoms join together to form different types of substances.
Compounds are substances in which atoms of two or more elements are chemically combined.
Chemical bonding involves either transferring or sharing electrons in the highest occupied energy levels (shells) of atoms in order to achieve the electronic structure of a noble gas.
When atoms form chemical bonds by transferring electrons, they form ions. Atoms that lose electrons become positively charged ions. Atoms that gain electrons become negatively charged ions. Ions have the electronic structure of a noble gas (Group 0).We can represent the electronic structure of the ions in sodium chloride, magnesium oxide and calcium chloride in the following form: for Sodium ion [Na+]
The elements in Group 1 of the periodic table, the alkali metals, all react with non-metal elements to form ionic compounds in which the metal ion has a single positive charge.
The elements in Group 7 of the periodic table, the halogens, all react with the alkali metals to form ionic compounds in which the halide ions have a single negative charge.
An ionic compound is a giant structure of ions. Ionic compounds are held together by strong electrostatic forces of attraction between oppositely charged ions. These forces act in all directions in the lattice and this is called ionic bonding.
When atoms share pairs of electrons, they form covalent bonds. These bonds between atoms are strong. Some covalently bonded substances consist of simple molecules such as H2, Cl2, O2, HCl, H2O, NH3 and CH4. Others have giant covalent structures (macromolecules), such as diamond and silicon dioxide.
We can represent the covalent bonds in molecules such as water, ammonia, hydrogen, hydrogen chloride, methane and oxygen, and in giant structures such as diamond and silicon dioxide, in the following forms:
Metals consist of giant structures of atoms arranged in a regular pattern.
The electrons in the highest occupied energy levels (outer shell) of metal atoms are delocalised and so free to move through the whole structure. This corresponds to a structure of positive ions with electrons between the ions holding them together by strong electrostatic attractions.
We can represent the bonding in metals in the following form:
C2.2: How structure influences the properties and uses of substances
Substances that have simple molecular, giant ionic and giant covalent structures have very different properties. Ionic, covalent and metallic bonds are strong. However, the forces between molecules are weaker, eg in carbon dioxide and iodine. Metals have many uses. When different metals are combined, alloys are formed. Shape memory alloys have a range of uses. There are different types of polymers with different uses. Nanomaterials have new properties because of their very small size.
Substances that consist of simple molecules are gases, liquids or solids that have relatively low melting points and boiling points.
Substances that consist of simple molecules have only weak forces between the molecules (intermolecular forces). It is these intermolecular forces that are overcome, not the covalent bonds, when the substance melts or boils.
Substances that consist of simple molecules do not conduct electricity because the molecules do not have an overall electric charge.
Ionic compounds have regular structures (giant ionic lattices) in which there are strong electrostatic forces in all directions between oppositely charged ions. These compounds have high melting points and high boiling points because of the large amounts of energy needed to break the many strong bonds.
When melted or dissolved in water, ionic compounds conduct electricity because the ions are free to move and