Hybridization of CO2

What is the Hybridization of Carbon Dioxide?

To determine the hybridization of carbon dioxide, let us take the carbon atom first. The carbon atom has two double bonds, or two effective pairs exist in it. However, this is not enough to produce bonds with oxygen. So, then, one electron from 2s orbital moves from the 2s level to the 2p level that results in the formation of two hybrid orbitals. Now, these hybridized sp orbitals of carbon atoms overlap with two p orbitals of the oxygen atoms to produce 2 sigma bonds. They are used to form a pi bond as for the two remaining p electrons.

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In the carbon dioxide molecule, oxygen also hybridizes its orbitals to produce three sp2 hybrid orbitals. The p orbital in the oxygen atom remains unchanged and is primarily used to form a pi bond. However, out of these three sp hybrid orbitals, only one will be used to produce a bond with the carbon atom.

Properties of Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide has an sp hybridization type. This hybridization type occurs as a result of carbon being bound to the other two atoms. Bonds can be either one single + one triple bond or two double bonds. We can also determine this closely by observing each atom of CO2.

The properties of CO2 like molecular name, the formula can be tabulated below.

Name of the Molecule

Carbon Dioxide

Molecular Formula


Hybridization Type


Bond Angle




Hybridization of Carbon in CO2

Carbon’s electron configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p2 in the ground state. We can consider one of the 2s electrons to be excited to fill the other empty 2p orbital to provide a 1s2 2s1 2p3 configuration. Each of the 2p orbital, 2px 2py, 2pz now holds one electron. The 2s orbitals and one of the 2p orbitals, for suppose, the 2py can hybridize and produce 2 sp hybrid orbitals.

Oxygen has the 1s2 2s2 2p4 electron configuration of the ground state. Two of the 2p orbitals, for example, the 2px and 2pz, only hold one electron. The 2px now can overlap with one of the sp hybrids from the carbon to form a resultant σ bond. The 2pz now can overlap with the unhybridized 2pz on the carbon to form a resultant π bond.

A similar process can happen on the other side of the carbon forming another π bond with the 2py orbitals from each atom and σ bond with Oxygen’s 2pz.

Type of Hybridization exists in CO2

Carbon has 6 electrons, whereas Oxygen has 8 electrons.

Before hybridization, the Carbon atom has 2 unpaired electrons to form bonding, which is not enough to form bonds with an oxygen atom. So, one electron from 2s orbital jumps from the 2s level to 2p level, and the orbitals hybridize to form the hybrid orbitals. The type of hybridization in CO2 is sp hybridization, and each carbon atom forms two sp hybrid orbitals. Out of two hybrid orbitals, one will be used to produce a bond with one oxygen atom, and the other will be used to produce a bond with another oxygen atom. The remaining two p electrons will be used to form a pi (π) bond.

Also, oxygen hybridizes its orbitals to form three sp2 hybrid orbitals. The unhybridized p orbital is used to form a pi bond, and out of three sp hybrid orbitals, only one will be used to form a bond with Carbon.

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Lewis Structure of CO2

The formation of CO2is consists of two particles: Oxygen and Carbon. Carbon is in group 4, whereas oxygen is in group 6. Furthermore, there are 2 Oxygen atoms.

Therefore, CO2= 4 + 6(2) = 16. So, the total valence electrons are 16.

Carbon is the least electronegative, which means it stays at the centre. So, place the Carbon in the middle and then keep the oxygen either side of that!

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Here we can observe some chemical bonds. Now, let us place an electrons pair between each of these oxygen atoms. It will look like the following.

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We have used 4 now. Then, we can complete the octets on the outer shell.

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Now, let’s check and see whether we have octets. The oxygen on the right has 8, and the left has 8. So, both of these have octets. But, the carbon has only 4 valence electrons; it does not have octets.

Now, it’s time to share these nonbonding electrons between both atoms! It will look as shown below if we started from considering the Oxygen atom.

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As we can see, Oxygen has 8 electrons, which is perfect. And the carbon has 6, which is a bit closer. Repeat the same process now to the other Oxygen electron. Let’s pick some electrons and share them across the other side so that Oxygen can have 8 and carbon as 6.

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Finally, we have completed the formation of an octet. Totally, we used 16 valence electrons. (same as the beginning!) We can also write it as a structural formula, and that would look like the one given below.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the molecular Geometry of CO2?

Ans. Molecular geometry is the bond lengths and angles, determined experimentally. Lewis structures give an approximate measure of molecular bonding. There is a simple method that enables us to predict the overall geometry, which is Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR). It means, the valence shell electron pairs are involved in bonding, and that these electron pairs will keep very far away from each other, because of the electron-electron repulsion.

But in CO2, more specifically, there are 16 valence electrons to work with.

Only, the central carbon has a share in 4 valence electrons, so it is possible to move a lone pair from each oxygen, to produce two double bonds between Carbon and Oxygen. Only the central carbon has a share in 4 valence electrons, so, possibly, we can pass a lone pair from each oxygen, to form two double bonds between the C and O atoms.

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The double bond acts as a single bond for our purpose of predicting it as a molecular shape.

2. Is CO2 supports Combustion? How?

Ans. It depends on the term combusting. Ordinary flammable materials such as paper, wood, candle gasoline, wax, kerosene, and more will not burn in CO2. As a fact, CO2 is one of the reaction products of these types of combustion reactions. So in terms of normal and everyday combustion, this won’t happen because CO2 doesn’t support combustion.

However, other few materials will burn in CO2, and Magnesium is one among them. This might be a surprise when we tried to put out a magnesium fire with a CO2 fire extinguisher!