You will be acquainted with drawing methane, CH4, using dots and also crosses diagrams, however it is worth looking at its structure a bit more closely.

You are watching: The shape of a methane molecule is best described as

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over there is a severe mis-match in between this structure and the modern-day electronic structure of carbon, 1s22s22px12py1. The modern structure reflects that there are only 2 unpaired electrons to share v hydrogens, rather of the 4 which the basic view requires.

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You deserve to see this an ext readily making use of the electrons-in-boxes notation. Just the 2-level electrons space shown. The 1s2 electrons space too deep inside the atom come be associated in bonding. The only electrons directly available for sharing space the 2p electrons. Why climate isn"t methane CH2?


Promotion of one electron

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when bonds room formed, energy is released and also the system becomes more stable. If carbon forms 4 bonds rather than 2, double as much power is released and so the resulting molecule i do not care even more stable.

there is just a little energy gap in between the 2s and 2p orbitals, and so it pays the carbon to provide a small amount of energy to promote an electron native the 2s come the north 2p to offer 4 unpaired electrons. The extra energy released as soon as the bonds kind more than compensates for the early stage input.

The carbon atom is now said to be in one excited state.

currently that we"ve acquired 4 unpaired electrons all set for bonding, another problem arises. In methane all the carbon-hydrogen bonds space identical, yet our electrons are in two various kinds that orbitals. Girlfriend aren"t going to get 4 identical bonds unless you start from four identical orbitals.


Hybridization

The electron rearrange themselves again in a procedure called hybridization. This reorganizes the electron into 4 identical hybrid orbitals called sp3 hybrids (because they are made from one s orbital and three ns orbitals). You have to read "sp3" as "s p three" - not as "s ns cubed".

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sp3 hybrid orbitals watch a bit like half a ns orbital, and they arrange us in room so the they are as far apart together possible. Girlfriend can picture the nucleus together being in ~ the centre of a tetrahedron (a triangularly based pyramid) v the orbitals pointing come the corners. Because that clarity, the cell nucleus is drawn far bigger than it yes, really is.

What happens when the bonds are formed?

Remember the hydrogen"s electron is in a 1s orbit - a spherically symmetric an ar of space surrounding the nucleus wherein there is part fixed chance (say 95%) of finding the electron. When a covalent bond is formed, the atomic orbitals (the orbitals in the separation, personal, instance atoms) merge to produce a new molecular orbit which includes the electron pair which create the bond.

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The hydrogens bond v the two carbons to create molecular orbitals simply as lock did with methane. The 2 carbon atoms bond by merging their continuing to be sp3 hybrid orbitals end-to-end to do a brand-new molecular orbital. The bond developed by this end-to-end overlap is called a sigma bond.

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The bonds between the carbons and hydrogens are also sigma bonds.

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