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Covalent Bond

Last updated date: 21st May 2024
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What is a Covalent Bond?

A covalent bond is a chemical link formed by the exchange of electron sets between particles. These electron sets are known as shared matches or holding sets, and covalent holding is the steady balance of alluring and loathsome powers between particles when they share electrons. For some mixtures, electron sharing permits every particle to accomplish what might be compared to a total valence shell, which relates to a stable electronic state. Covalent bonds are definitely more plentiful in natural science than ionic ones.

Many types of interactions are included in covalent bonding, including -bonding, -bonding, metal-to-metal bonding, agostic interactions, bending bonds, three-center two-electron bonds, and three-center four-electron bonds.  The phrase "covalent bond" was coined in 1939.  The prefix co- indicates jointly, related in action, paired to a lower degree, and so on; therefore, a "covalent bond" signifies that the atoms share "valence," as explained in valence bond theory.

The hydrogen atoms in molecule H2 share two electrons via covalent bonding.

The highest covalency exists amongst atoms with equal electronegativities. Thus, covalent bonding does not need that the two atoms be of the same element, just that their electronegativity be equivalent. Delocalized covalent bonding is defined by electron sharing between more than two atoms.

Irving Langmuir introduced the word covalence in relation to bonding for the first time in 1919 in a Journal of the American Chemical Society essay titled "The Arrangement of Electrons in Atoms and Molecules." This was to describe the number of electron pairs shared by neighbouring atoms. It came into use in 1939. Compounds that contain carbon exhibit this type of chemical bonding. "We shall indicate by the word covalence the number of pairs of electrons that a given atom shares with its neighbours," Langmuir stated.

Gilbert N. Lewis, who established the exchange of electron pairs between atoms in 1916, is credited with inventing covalent bonding some years before 1919.

He devised the Lewis notation, also known as electron speck documentation or Lewis dab structure, in which valence electrons (those in the external shell) are addressed as dabs around the nuclear images. Covalent bonds are shaped by electron sets arranged between iotas. Numerous bonds, like twofold bonds and triple bonds, are represented by multiple pairs. Bond-forming electron pairs are shown as solid lines in another style of representation that is not displayed here.

Lewis postulated that an atom can create enough covalent bonds to form a complete (or closed) outer electron shell. The carbon atom in the methane diagram illustrated here has a valence of four and is thus surrounded by eight electrons (the octet rule), four from the carbon itself and four from the hydrogens bound to it. Every hydrogen has a valence of one and is encircled by two electrons (a two part harmony rule) — one from itself and one from the carbon. In the quantum hypothesis of the particle, the quantity of electrons relates to finish shells; the external shell of a carbon iota is the n = 2 shell, which can store eight electrons, whereas the outer (and sole) shell of a hydrogen atom is the n = 1 shell, which can hold just two.

Covalent Bond in Chemistry

In Chemistry, covalent bonds are formed between two atoms or ions in which the electron pairs are shared between them; they are also known as molecular bonds. The forces of attraction or repulsion between two atoms (when they share an electron pair or bonding pair) are called Covalent Bonding. The pair of electrons which are shared by the two atoms now extend around the nuclei of atoms leading to the creation of a molecule.

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Properties of Covalent Bond

If the valence of an atom is not satisfied by sharing a single electron pair between atoms, the atoms share more than one electron pair between them. Some of the covalent bond properties  are:

  • Covalent bonds are formed between non-metallic elements like hydrogen, oxygen, etc.

  • Covalent bonding does not result in the formation of new electrons. The bond only pairs them.

  • Covalent bonds include single, double, or triple bonds where 2, 4, or 6 electrons are shared respectively. 

  • There exist very powerful chemical bonds between atoms.

  • A covalent bond normally contains the energy of about ~80 kilocalories per mole (kcal/mol).

  • Covalent bonds rarely break spontaneously after it is formed.

  • Most compounds with covalent bonds have relatively low melting points and boiling points.

  • Compounds with covalent bonds usually have lower enthalpies of vaporisation and fusion.

  • Compounds formed by covalent bonding don’t conduct electricity due to the lack of free electrons.

  • Covalent compounds are not soluble in water.

Types of Covalent Bonds

The covalent bond can be classified into three types depending upon the number of shared electron pairs. Types of covalent bonds are:

  • Single Covalent Bond

  • Double Covalent Bond

  • Triple Covalent Bond

Single Covalent Bond

When only one pair of the electron is shared between the two participating atoms then such bonds are said to be single covalent bonds. It is represented by one dash (-). This form of covalent bond has a smaller density and is weaker than a double and triple bond though it is the most stable bond.

Example: The HCL molecule has one Hydrogen atom with one valence electron and one Chlorine atom with seven valence electrons. In this case, a single bond is formed between hydrogen and chlorine by sharing one electron thus completing its octet of one molecule of HCL.

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Double Bonds

When two pairs of electrons are shared between the two participating atoms a double bond is formed. It is represented by two dashes (=). Double covalent bonds are much stronger than a single bond, but they are less stable.

Example: A carbon dioxide molecule has one carbon atom with six valence electrons and two oxygen atoms with four valence electrons.

To complete its octet, as carbon has 6 valence electrons it shares two of its valence electrons with one oxygen atom and two with another oxygen atom. Each oxygen atom shares its two electrons with carbon and therefore there are two double bonds in a molecule of CO2.

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Triple Bond

When three pairs of electrons are shared between the two participating atoms a triple bond is formed. Triple covalent bonds are represented by three dashes (≡). These are the least stable types of covalent bonds.

Example: In the formation of a nitrogen molecule, each nitrogen atom having five valence electrons provides three electrons to each other to form three electron pairs for completing the octet. Therefore, a triple bond is formed between the two nitrogen atoms.

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Depending on the affinity for the electrons that each atom has, we have three types of bonds polar, nonpolar and coordinated.

Nonpolar Covalent Bond

This union is established between atoms with equal electronegativity. This type of bond can also be maintained between atoms with an electronegativity difference of less than 0.4.

Example: The chlorine molecule Cl2 is made up of two chlorine atoms with the same electronegativity, which share an electron pair in a nonpolar covalent bond. The same happens in the case of the two oxygen atoms to form the oxygen molecule O2.

Between the carbon atoms in organic molecules, the covalent bond is of the nonpolar type.

Polar Covalent Bond

The polar covalent bond is formed between two non-metallic atoms that have an electronegativity difference between 0.4 and 1.7. When these interact, the shared electrons stay closer to that more electronegative atom.

Example: The water molecule has two polar covalent bonds between oxygen and hydrogens.

In the water molecule H2O, the electrons of the hydrogens stay closer and longer around the oxygen, which is more electronegative.

Fluorine F is the most electronegative element (4.0) and has seven valence electrons. When combined with hydrogen, hydrogen fluoride HF is formed, via a polar covalent bond.

The NH3 ammonia molecule has polar covalent bonds between nitrogen and hydrogens.

Coordinated or Dative Covalent Bond

This type of bond occurs when one of the atoms in the bond is the one that provides the electrons to share. We achieve this in the reaction between NH3 ammonia and boron trifluoride BF3. Nitrogen has two free electrons and boron is electron deficient. By combining both nitrogen and boron they complete their last shell with eight electrons.

Structures with Covalent Bonds

Individual molecules, molecular structures, macromolecular structures, and massive covalent structures are all examples of covalent structures. Individual molecules contain solid bonds that hold the particles together, yet the powers of fascination between atoms are irrelevant. These covalent compounds are often gases, such as HCl, SO2, CO2, and CH4. There exist modest forces of attraction in molecular structures. Low-bubbling temperature fluids (like ethanol) and low-liquefying temperature solids are examples of covalent substances (such as iodine and solid CO2).

Macromolecular structures contain a huge number of atoms connected by covalent bonds in chains, such as synthetic polymers like polyethylene and nylon, as well as polymers like proteins and starch. Network covalent structures (or enormous covalent structures) are made up of a vast number of atoms connected together in sheets (such as graphite) or 3-dimensional structures (such as diamond and quartz).

These materials have high melting and boiling temperatures, are often brittle, and have high electrical resistance. Such enormous macromolecular structures are frequently formed by elements with strong electronegativity and the capacity to generate three or four electron pair bonds.

One-Electron and Three-Electron Bonds

In radical species with an odd number of electrons, bonds with one or three electrons can be found. The dihydrogen cation, H+2, is the most basic example of a 1-electron bond. One-electron bonds frequently have half the bond energy of a two-electron bond and are hence referred to as "half bonds." There are several exceptions: in the instance of dilithium, the bond is actually stronger for the 1-electron Li+2 than the 2-electron Li2. This exception is explained by hybridization and inner-shell effects.


In certain cases, a single Lewis structure is inadequate to describe the electron configuration in a molecule, necessitating the use of a superposition of structures. In such molecules, the same two atoms might be bound differently in various configurations (a solitary bond in one, a twofold bond in another, or none at all), resulting in a non-integer bond order. One such example is the nitrate ion, which has three comparable configurations. The binding between nitrogen and each oxygen is a double bond in one structure and a single bond in the other two, resulting in an average bond order of 2 + 1 + 1 / 3 = 4 / 3 for each N–O interaction.

FAQs on Covalent Bond

1. What is the Octet rule?

Except for noble gases, all atoms contain less than eight electrons in their valence shell. At the end of the day, these molecules' valence shells don't have stable structures. As a result, they join with one another or with other atoms to form stable electronic structures.


"Chemical combination is caused by the tendency of atoms of diverse elements to achieve stable configurations of eight electrons in their valence shells.” 


"The octet rule refers to the notion of achieving a maximum of eight electrons in an atom's valence shell."

Beryllium and Boron are examples where the octet rule is not followed.

2. What is a polar covalent bond?

This form of covalent bond develops when the electronegativity of joining atoms differs, resulting in uneven electron sharing. Electrons will be attracted to more electronegative iotas. The atoms' electronegative difference is more than zero but less than 2.0. As a result, the common electron pair will be nearer to that particle.

For instance, think about atoms that structure hydrogen bonds because of an imbalanced electrostatic potential. The hydrogen atom in this scenario reacts with electronegative fluorine, hydrogen, or oxygen.

3. What is the difference between covalent and ionic compounds?

Atomic bonds include covalent bonds and ionic bonds. The qualities and structure of these bonds vary. Covalent bonds are formed by two atoms bonding electron pairs in a fixed direction. Ionic bonds will be bonds framed between two particles.

Covalent bonding occurs between two non-metallic atoms and is defined by the sharing of electron pairs between the atoms, as well as other covalent bonds with an electronegativity difference higher than 2.0 (2.0). Polyatomic ions are produced during covalent bond formation. The ionic bond, then again, is created as a result of electrostatic attraction between oppositely charged ions.

4. What are the conditions for writing Lewis Dot structures?

The conditions for constructing Lewis dot structures are:

  • The creation of covalent bonds occurs when two atoms share an electron pair.

  • Each bond formed during bond formation is made up of two electrons provided by each of the combining atoms.

  • Each atom achieves an octet configuration in its valence shell through the mutual sharing of electrons.

  • The electron dot structures of covalent compounds are written using the octet rule. Except for the Hydrogen atom, all of the atoms in the molecule will have eight electrons in their valence shell, according to this law. Because only two electrons complete the first shell of hydrogen to achieve helium configuration, it will contain only two electrons.

  • To achieve a stable octet, elements in group 17 such as Cl would share one electron; elements in group 16 such as O and S would share two electrons, and elements in group 15 would share three electrons.

5. Explain what is a double bond?

Bonds with Two Signs - At the point when two sets of electrons are shared by two partaking molecules, a twofold bond is established. It's denoted by two dashes (=). Albeit double covalent bonds are more grounded than single bonds, they are additionally less steady.

A carbon dioxide molecule, for example, comprises one carbon atom with six valence electrons and two oxygen atoms with four valence electrons.

Carbon imparts two of its valence electrons to one oxygen particle and two with one more oxygen molecule to finish its octet. Since every oxygen molecule imparts two electrons to carbon, CO2 contains two twofold bonds.

6. What are the types of chemical bonds?

In chemical bonding when a substance yields compounds, the stability of the resulting compound can be analyzed by the type of chemical bonds it contains.

These types of bonds in chemical bonding are formed from the loss, gain, or sharing of electrons between two atoms or molecules; they also vary in strength and properties. There are 4 basic types of chemical bonds which are formed by atoms or molecules to yield compounds. These types of chemical bonds include:

  • Ionic Bonds

  • Covalent Bonds

  • Hydrogen Bonds

  • Polar Bonds