Homonuclear Diatomic Molecules and Bond Order

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What are Diatomic Molecules?

Diatomic molecules are the ones, which are composed of only two atoms, either of the same or different chemical elements. The prefix 'di-' is the Greek origin, which means "two". If a diatomic molecule contains two atoms of similar elements, such as oxygen (O2) or hydrogen (H2), it is referred to as homonuclear. On the other side, if a diatomic molecule contains two different atoms, such as a nitric oxide (NO) or carbon monoxide (CO), it is referred to as heteronuclear. The bond present in a homonuclear diatomic molecule is non-polar.


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Occurrence

Mostly, hundreds of diatomic molecules have been identified in the environment of the Earth, in the interstellar space, and in the laboratory. Around 99% of the atmosphere of the Earth is composed of two species of diatomic molecules, which are nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). The natural abundance of hydrogen (H2) present in the atmosphere of the Earth is only of the order of parts per million, whereas H2 is the most abundant diatomic molecule present in the universe. Indeed, the interstellar medium is dominated by hydrogen atoms.


A Few Common Diatomic Molecules

Hydrogen Molecule (H2): Dihydrogen molecule belongs to the diatomic molecule's family, which contains two hydrogen atoms bonded to each other with a covalent bond. As per the atomic number of hydrogen, it has only 1 electron in its 1s orbital. The electronic configuration of the H2 molecule can be given as follows.

H2: (σ1s)2

Bond order = = = 1

Because of the absence of unpaired electrons present in the hydrogen molecule, it is described as diamagnetic in nature.


Lithium Molecule (Li2): The lithium molecule belongs to the diatomic molecule's family, which contains two lithium atoms that are bonded to each other with a covalent bond. The electronic configuration of the Li2 molecule can be given as follow.

Li2: (σ1s)2 (σ*1s)2 (σ2s)2

Bond order == 1

Therefore, the Li2 molecule is stable and diamagnetic because of the absence of unpaired electrons.


Carbon Molecule (C2): This molecule belongs to the diatomic molecule's family, which consists of two carbon atoms that are bonded to each other with a covalent bond. The electronic configuration of the Carbon molecule can be given as follows.

C2 :(σ1s)2 (σ*1s)2(σ2s)2 (σ *2s)2 (π2p2x= π 2p2y)

Bond order = = 2

Because of the absence of unpaired electrons, the C2 is diamagnetic in nature. Moreover, because of the presence of 4 electrons in the pi bonding orbitals, the double bond in C2 (bonding in homonuclear diatomic molecules) contains both pi bonds.


An Oxygen Molecule (O2): The oxygen molecule belongs to the diatomic molecule's family, which contains two oxygen atoms, which are bonded to each other with a covalent bond. The electronic configuration of the Oxygen molecule can be given as follows.

O2: (σ1s)2 (σ*1s)2 (σ2s)2 (σ *2s)2 (σ2pz)2 (π2p2x= π 2p2y) (π*2p1x= π*2p1y)

Bond order = = 2.

Because of the presence of 1 unpaired electron, the O2 molecule should be paramagnetic.


Helium Molecule (He2): As per helium atomic number, it contains 2 electrons in 1s orbital. The electronic configuration of this molecule as per the molecular orbital theory can be given as follows.

He2: (σ1s)2 (σ*1s)2

Bond order == 0.

Therefore, the He2 molecule is unstable and does not exist.


Diatomic Gas

A gas, having two atoms in its molecule (For example, H2 - Hydrogen molecule holds 2 H-atoms bound together using an electrostatic force field.

The electrons of 2 atoms overlap on each other, and this potential of overlapping plays a major role in its binding.

Gases are made up of only two atoms that can be either similar or various.

Oxygen, Hydrogen, Bromine, Nitrogen, Chlorine, Fluorine, and Iodine are the 7 common gases that exist as the diatomic molecules of a similar element. However, still, there are examples of diatomic molecules made up of non-identical atoms like hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxide.


About Gase's Diatomicity and Reason

We have many of the gaseous elements such as Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Fluorine, Chlorine, and more among the compounds Nitric oxide, Carbon monoxide, Hydrogen Fluoride, Chlorine monofluoride, Hydrogen Chloride, and so on.


Because it all comes down to the valency or the availability of electrons, forming chemical bonds. H contains only one bond and is monovalent. Thus the hydrogen molecule has only 1 bond.


Since oxygen can be given as O2, which we breathe, and O3 as Ozone. Ozone is not stable compared to dioxygen, and the equilibrium of the process given below lies to the right.

2O3⇌3O2

The molecule's stability is also a factor for O4, N3, N4, and so on are theoretically possible but are energetically unfavorable because of their diatomic counterparts. Whether such a type of molecule is feasible or not can be determined rigorously by the application of Molecular Orbital theory.


Did You Know?

  • An ideal gas can simply be described as a theoretical gas composed of many randomly-moving and non-interacting particles, which do not exist in nature. However, the real gases can behave the same as ideal gases under some specific conditions when the intermolecular forces become negligible.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. List the Diatomic Gases.

Answer: The diatomic gases can be listed as follows.

  • Carbon,

  • Hydrogen,

  • Oxygen,

  • Nitrogen,

  • Chlorine

They contain 2 atoms, and they cannot exist alone except in molecules. As an example, hydrogen cannot be monoatomic, which contains only one atom, and it needs another hydrogen atom to make it stable.

2. Why are Some Elements Found to be Diatomic in Nature?

Answer: Atoms always try to contain full "shells" of electrons. If they do not have enough electrons to form full shells, they can find more by sharing the electrons with another atom. For nitrogen and hydrogen, halogen gases, and oxygen, pairing up can be easily accomplished. Elemental oxygen can be found not only in pairs but also in the ozone form, a molecule with 3 oxygen atoms.

3. Explain is H2O2, Either Diatomic or Monoatomic.

Answer: There are 2 atoms of Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms in H2O2, which means 2 + 2 = 4.

In the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) element, there exist 4 atoms, and where 2 Hydrogen atoms combine with 2 Oxygen atoms to form tetratomic (4 atoms) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).

Thus, H2O2 is neither monoatomic nor diatomic in nature.