Polyatomic moleculesBond Length

Bond order is the number of hyakkendana-hashigozake.comical bonds between a pair of atoms and indicates the stability of a bond. For example, in diatomic nitrogen, N≡N, the bond order is 3; in acetylene, H−C≡C−H, the carbon-carbon bond order is also 3, and the C−H bond order is 1. Bond order and bond length indicate the type and strength of covalent bonds between atoms. Bond order and length are inversely proportional to each other: when bond order is increased, bond length is decreased.

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hyakkendana-hashigozake.comistry deals with the way in which subatomic particles bond together to form atoms. hyakkendana-hashigozake.comistry also focuses on the way in which atoms bond together to form molecules. In the atomic structure, electrons surround the atomic nucleus in regions called orbitals. Each orbital shell can hold a certain number of electrons. When the nearest orbital shell is full, new electrons start to gather in the next orbital shell out from the nucleus, and continue until that shell is also full. The collection of electrons continues in ever widening orbital shells as larger atoms have more electrons than smaller atoms. When two atoms bond to form a molecule, their electrons bond them together by mixing into openings in each others" orbital shells. As with the collection of electrons by the atom, the formation of bonds by the molecule starts at the nearest available orbital shell opening and expand outward.

Bond Order

Bond order is the number of bonding pairs of electrons between two atoms. In a covalent bond between two atoms, a single bond has a bond order of one, a double bond has a bond order of two, a triple bond has a bond order of three, and so on. To determine the bond order between two covalently bonded atoms, follow these steps:

Draw the Lewis structure.Determine the type of bonds between the two atoms.0: No bond1: Single bond2: double bond3: triple bond

If the bond order is zero, the molecule cannot form. The higher bond orders indicate greater stability for the new molecule. In molecules that have resonance bonding, the bond order does not need to be an integer.

Example (PageIndex1): (CN^-)

Determine the bond order for cyanide, CN-.


1) Draw the Lewis structure.


Example (PageIndex3): (NO_3^-)

Determine the bond order for nitrate, (NO_3^-).


1) Draw the Lewis structure.


2) Count the total number of bonds.


The total number of bonds is 4.

3) Count the number of bond groups between individual atoms.


The number of bond groups between individual atoms is 3.

4) Divide the number of bonds between individual atoms by the total number of bonds.

The bond order is 1.33

Example (PageIndex4): (NO^+_2)

Determine the bond order for nitronium ion: (NO_2^+).


1) Draw the Lewis Structure.


Bond Length

Bond length is defined as the distance between the centers of two covalently bonded atoms. The length of the bond is determined by the number of bonded electrons (the bond order). The higher the bond order, the stronger the pull between the two atoms and the shorter the bond length. Generally, the length of the bond between two atoms is approximately the sum of the covalent radii of the two atoms. Bond length is reported in picometers. Therefore, bond length increases in the following order: triple bond Draw the Lewis structure.Look up the chart below for the radii for the corresponding bond.Find the sum of the two radii.


Determine the carbon-oxygen bond length in CO2.


Using Table A3, we see that a C double bond has a length of 67 picometers and that an O double bond has a length of 57 picometers. When added together, the bond length of a C=O bond is approximately 124 picometers.

Trends in the Periodic Table

Because the bond length is proportional to the atomic radius, the bond length trends in the periodic table follow the same trends as atomic radii: bond length decreases across a period and increases down a group.

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There is a double bond between the two oxygen atoms; therefore, the bond order of the molecule is 2.

2. The Lewis structure for NO3- is given below:


To find the bond order of this molecule, take the average of the bond orders. N=O has a bond order of two, and both N-O bonds have a bond order of one. Adding these together and dividing by the number of bonds (3) reveals that the bond order of nitrate is 1.33.

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3. To find the carbon-nitrogen bond length in HCN, draw the Lewis structure of HCN.