By Lower S. K.

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The reason is that the nonbonding electrons are also in orbitals that occupy space and repel the other orbitals. This means that in figuring the coordination number around the central atom, we must count both the bonded atoms and the nonbonding pairs. The water molecule You will recall that CO2, lacking any lone pair electrons on the central atom, is a linear molecule; there two bonded atoms and the coordination number around the carbon is also two. In the water molecule, the central atom is O, and the Lewis electron dot formula predicts that there will be two pairs of nonbonding electrons.

The full answer is beyond the scope of this course, so we can only of fer the following very general explanation. First, recall what we mean by “orbital”: a mathematical function ψ having the character of a standing wave whose square ψ2 is proportional to the probability of finding the electron at any particular location in space. The latter, the electron density distribution, can be observed (by X-ray scattering, for example), and in this sense is the only thing that is “real”. A given standing wave (ψ function) can be synthesized by combining all kinds of fundamental wave patterns (that is, atomic orbitals) in much the same way that a color we observe can be reproduced by combining different sets of primary colors in various proportions.

This approach is indeed valid, but we will defer a discussion of it until later. For now, we will look at a less-radical model that Page 37 Hybrid orbitals: the valence bond model starts out with the familiar valence-shell atomic orbitals, and allows them to combine to form hybrid orbitals whose shapes conform quite well to the bonding geometry that we observe in a wide variety of molecules. 1 What are hybrid orbitals? Orbitals of all types are simply mathematical functions that describe particular standing-wave patterns that can be plotted on a graph but have no physical reality of their own.

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