Monday, July 29, 2019
Unizor - Physics4Teens - Energy - Atoms and Chemical Reactions - Interat...
Notes to a video lecture on http://www.unizor.com
Atoms in a molecule are bonded together to form a stable chemical substance or compound.
The mechanism of bonding is quite complex and different for different
molecules. In fact, the complexity of these bonds is outside of the
scope of this course. However, certain basic knowledge about molecular
bonding and molecular structure is necessary to understand the following
lecture, where we will make certain calculations related to energy
produced or consumed in chemical reactions.
The key to a mechanism of bonding atoms into molecules lies in an internal structure of atoms.
For our purposes we can consider the orbital model of atom as consisting
of electrically positive nucleus and electrically negative electrons
circulating on different orbits around a nucleus. This is only a model,
not an exact representation of what's really happening inside the atom,
but this model gives relatively good results that correspond to some
Two different particles can be found in a nucleus - positively charged
protons and electrically neutral neutrons. The number of protons inside a
nucleus and electrons circulating on different orbits around a nucleus
should be the same for electrically neutral atoms in their most common
For reasons not well understood by many physicists, each orbit can have
certain maximum number of electrons that can circulate on it without
"bumping" into each other. The higher the orbit - the more electrons it
can hold. The lowest orbit can hold no more than 2 electrons, the next -
no more than 8, the next - no more than 14 etc.
Consider a few examples.
1. Let's consider the structure of a simplest molecule - the molecule of
hydrogen, formed by two atoms of hydrogen. Each hydrogen atom has one
electron on the lowest orbit around a nucleus. The maximum number of
electrons on this orbit is two, in which case the compound becomes much
more stable. So, two atoms of hydrogen grab each other and the two
electrons, each from its own atom, are shared by a couple of atoms, thus
creating a stable molecule of hydrogen with symbol H2. The bond between two atoms of hydrogen is formed by one pair of shared electrons, so structurally the molecule of hydrogen H2 can be pictured as
2. Atom of oxygen has 8 electrons - 2 on the lowest orbit and 6 on the
next higher one. The next higher orbit is stable when it has 8
electrons. So, two atoms of oxygen are grabbing each other and share 2
out of 6 electrons on the outer orbit with another atom. So, each atom
has 4 "personal" electrons, 2 electrons that it shares with another atom
and 2 electrons that the other atom shares with it. Thus, the orbit
becomes full, all 8 spots are filled. The bond between two atoms of
oxygen is formed by two pairs of shared electrons, so structurally the
molecule of oxygen O2 can be pictured as
(notice double link between the atoms).
3. Our next example is gas methane. Its molecule consists of one atom of
carbon (6 electrons, 2 of them on the lowest orbit, 4 - on the next
one) and 4 atoms of hydrogen (1 electron on the lowest orbit of each
atom). Obviously, having only 4 electrons on the second orbit, carbon is
actively looking for electrons to fill the orbit. It needs 4 of them to
complete an orbit of 8 electrons. Exactly this it finds in 4 atoms of
hydrogen that need to complete their own lowest orbit. Sharing
electrons, one atom of carbon and 4 atoms of hydrogen fill their
corresponding orbits, thus creating a molecule of methane CH4 with can be pictured as
4. Carbon dioxide molecule contains 1 atom of carbon, that needs 4
electrons to complete its orbit, and 2 atoms of oxygen, each needs 2
electrons to complete its orbit: CO2. By
sharing 2 electrons from each atom of oxygen with 4 electrons from atom
of carbon they all fill up their outer orbit of electrons and become a
stable molecule, pictured as
(notice double link between the atoms).
5. Ethanol molecule contains 2 atoms of carbon, 1 atom of oxygen and 6 atoms of hydrogen connected as follows
(notice single bond between atoms of carbon and oxygen in ethanol, while
the bond between them in carbon dioxide has double link)
6. Hydrogen peroxide molecule contains 2 atoms of hydrogen and 2 atoms of oxygen connected as follows
(notice single bond between atoms of oxygen, not like in a molecule of oxygen)
Numerous examples above illustrate that bonds between atoms can be
different, even between the same atoms in different molecules. That's
why it is important to understand the structure of molecules, how
exactly the atoms are linked and what kind of links exist between them.
This is the basis for calculation of the amount of energy produced or
consumed by chemical reactions that rearrange the atoms from one set of
molecules to another.
Obviously, bonds O−O and O=O are different.
The first one is facilitated by one shared electron, the second one - by
two. The amounts of energy, needed to break these bonds, are different
too. Therefore, when calculating the energy of chemical reaction, it's
important to understand the kind of bond between atoms in each separate