Covalent bonding

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A covalent bond is where electrons are shared between two nonmetal atoms.

Let’s start with hydrogen, which is a nonmetal on the left side of the periodic table.

Hydrogen has an atomic number equal to one which means that it has one proton and one electron.

If we take two hydrogen atoms, each with its own electron, we can combine them to form a molecule, where each atom contributes one valence electron to the final molecule.

In other words, these two valence electrons are shared by both atoms in the final molecule.

We can represent this process by putting two dots between the two hydrogen atoms.

These two dots represent one covalent bond.

We can also represent a covalent bond by drawing a straight line between the hydrogen atoms.

One straight line means one covalent bond and represents two valence electrons.

Now, in our hydrogen molecule, opposite charges attract.

So the one electron from the hydrogen atom on the left is attracted to the positively charged nucleus of the hydrogen atom on the right.

At the same time, the negatively charged electron from the hydrogen on the right is attracted to the positively charged nucleus of the hydrogen on the left.

So a mutual attractive force holds together the two atoms in a covalent bond.

At the same time, like charges repel, which keeps the two positively-charged nuclei from getting any closer together.

Another way to represent the hydrogen molecule is by writing H with the subscript two.

This implies that we have two hydrogen atoms in our molecule.

So hydrogen is an example of a diatomic molecule, which is a molecule composed of two atoms.

There’s an easy way to remember a list of the elements that form diatomic molecules.

Imagine a mad scientist who is named Dr. Brinclhof, whose name spells out each of the diatomic molecules: “Br” is bromine, “I” is iodine, “N” is nitrogen, “Cl” is chlorine, “H” is hydrogen, “O” is oxygen, and “F” is fluorine.

Let's try drawing some of the structures of these molecules, starting with the example of the fluorine molecule, F2. Fluorine is in group 7A on the periodic table.


A covalent bond is formed when two nonmetal atoms share valence electrons, and this electron sharing creates a strong bond between the atoms and results in the formation of a molecule. Covalent bonding is responsible for the chemical stability of most molecules and allows them to interact with one another to form larger structures.


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