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Valence Bond Theory And Hybridization

Chemical Bonding
In the previous sessions we have seen the basic concept of chemical bonding and the various types of chemical bonds in detail. Now, let us have a look at the theories that explain the concept of hybridization. This helps to determine the shape of the molecules formed as a result of bonding.

Valence bond theory:

It is the most accepted theory that explains the concept of chemical bond. According to this theory, a chemical bond is formed as a result of overlapping the atomic orbitals. As a result of overlapping, the electrons involved in the formation remain at the site of the bond formation. The orbitals so formed after the overlapping are termed as hybrid orbitals and the process is termed as hybridization.

Before going in detail into the valence bond theory, here is a brief description of the various types of orbitals. There are four different types of orbitals they are the s, p, d and f orbitals. At the time of chemical bonding, the bond can be formed between s-s or s-p or s-d or p-p or p-d or d-d.

Now, let us see how these hybrid orbitals can be used in determining the shapes of the molecules. Let us consider the basic set of hybrid orbitals sp, sp2, sp3, sp3d, and sp3d2.

Shape of compounds with sp hybrid orbitals:

As given by the name, this type of hybrid orbital is formed by combination of one s and one p orbital. The s and p orbitals are located opposite to each other with the atom present in the center position. This gives a linear shape to the resulting molecule.

One good example for a molecule with sp hybrid orbital is H2Be represented as H-Be-H. In this molecule the two s orbitals of hydrogen overlap with two hybridized sp orbitals of Beryllium. These orbitals are located opposite to each other giving a bond angle of 180° and linear shape to the H-Be-H molecule.
Shape of compounds with sp hybrid orbitals

Shape of compounds with sp2 hybrid orbitals:

The combination of one s orbital with two p orbitals results in the formation of three sp2 hybrid orbitals. All the three orbitals arrange towards the three vertices of a triangle giving a trigonal shape to the molecule. An example of a compound with sp2 hybrid orbitals is BF3. In this case, boron is the central atom and the three fluorine molecules point in the shape of triangle.
Shape of compounds with sp2 hybrid orbitals

Shape of compounds with sp3 hybrid orbitals:

The combination of one s orbital with three p orbitals results in the formation of four sp3 orbitals. These four hybrid orbitals arrange themselves pointing to the vertices of tetrahedron. This gives the molecules with sp3 hybrid orbitals a tetrahedral shape. An example of a compound with sp3 hybrid orbitals is CH4. It has a central carbon atom with hydrogen pointing towards the vertices of a tetrahedron.
Shape of compounds with sp3 hybrid orbitals

Shape of compounds with sp3d hybrid orbitals:

Combination of one s, three p and one d orbital results in the formation of five sp3d hybrid orbitals. These hybrid orbitals give the molecule a shape of trigonalbipyramid. An example of a compound with sp3d hybrid orbitals is BrF3.
Shape of compounds with sp3d hybrid orbitals

Shape of compounds with sp3d2 hybrid orbitals:

These hybrid orbitals are formed due to combination of one s, three p and two d orbitals. Molecules with these hybrid orbitals have octahedron shape. SF6 is a very good example with sp3d2 hybrid orbitals.
Shape of compounds with sp3d2 hybrid orbitals

All the above shapes of molecules are the standards forms. However, certain mild variation in the shape is observed in the presence of lone pair of electrons. For example, so2 which contains sp2 hybrid orbitals is a slightly bent molecule. This is due to presence of lone pair of electrons.

Solved problems
  • Number of hybrid orbitals formed after sp hybridization
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Answer: b
  • What is the shape of molecules with sp3 hybridization?
    • Linear
    • Tetrahedral
    • Trigonal bipyramidal
    • Triangular
    Answer: b
  • Which of the following molecule shows sp hybridization?
    • CH4
    • BF3
    • H2Be
    • BrF3
    Answer: c
  • What are the orbitals involved in sp3d hybridization?
    • one s and onep
    • one s and two p
    • one s and three p
    • one s three p and one d orbital
    Answer: d
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