Which Of The Following Statements About The Polarity Of Covalent Bonds Is Correct?

Covalent bonding occurs when pairs of electrons are shared by atoms. Atoms will covalently bond with other atoms in order to gain more stability, which is gained by forming a full electron shell. By sharing their outer most (valence) electrons, atoms can fill up their outer electron shell and gain stability. Nonmetals will readily form covalent bonds with other nonmetals in order to obtain stability, and can form anywhere between one to three covalent bonds with other nonmetals depending on how many valence electrons they posses. Although it is said that atoms share electrons when they form covalent bonds, they do not usually share the electrons equally.

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Introduction

Only when two atoms of the same element form a covalent bond are the shared electrons actually shared equally between the atoms. When atoms of different elements share electrons through covalent bonding, the electron will be drawn more toward the atom with the higher electronegativity resulting in a polar covalent bond. When compared to ionic compounds, covalent compounds usually have a lower melting and boiling point, and have less of a tendency to dissolve in water. Covalent compounds can be in a gas, liquid, or solid state and do not conduct electricity or heat well. The types of covalent bonds can be distinguished by looking at the Lewis dot structure of the molecule. For each molecule, there are different names for pairs of electrons, depending if it is shared or not. A pair of electrons that is shared between two atoms is called a bond pair. A pair of electrons that is not shared between two atoms is called a lone pair.

Octet Rule

The Octet Rule requires all atoms in a molecule to have 8 valence electrons–either by sharing, losing or gaining electrons–to become stable. For Covalent bonds, atoms tend to share their electrons with each other to satisfy the Octet Rule. It requires 8 electrons because that is the amount of electrons needed to fill a s– and p– orbital (electron configuration); also known as a noble gas configuration. Each atom wants to become as stable as the noble gases that have their outer valence shell filled because noble gases have a charge of 0. Although it is important to remember the “magic number”, 8, note that there are many Octet rule exceptions.

Example: As you can see from the picture below, Phosphorus has only 5 electrons in its outer shell (bolded in red). Argon has a total of 8 electrons (bolded in red), which satisfies the Octet Rule. Phosphorus needs to gain 3 electrons to fulfill the Octet Rule. It wants to be like Argon who has a full outer valence shell.

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