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Author: Hans Lohninger

Our basis for understanding chemical bonding and the structures of molecules is the electron orbital description of the structure and valence of atoms, as provided by quantum mechanics. We assume an understanding of the periodicity of the elements based on the nuclear structure of the atom and our deductions concerning valence based on electron orbitals.


Our model of valence describes a chemical bond as resulting from the sharing of a pair of electrons in the valence shell of the bonded atoms. This sharing allows each atom to complete an octet of electrons in its valence shell, at least in the sense that we count the shared electrons as belonging to both atoms. However, it is not clear that this electron counting picture has any basis in physical reality. What is meant, more precisely, by the sharing of the electron pair in a bond, and why does this result in the bonding of two atoms together? Indeed, what does it mean to say that two atoms are bound together? Furthermore, what is the significance of sharing a pair of electrons? Why arenít chemical bonds formed by sharing one or three electrons, for example?

We seek to understand how the details of chemical bonding are related to the properties of the molecules formed, particularly in terms of the strengths of the bonds formed.

Last Update: 2011-02-16