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The basics of chemical bonding

August 28, 2020 5:00 am


To understand the basics of bonding in chemicals, it is important to start by knowing why they bond. Essentially, it comes down to stability. Every element in the universe strives to become more stable. Atoms want to become more stable and this can be achieved by joining with another atom and sharing electrons. An atom has shells with electrons in and if these are full, then the atom is more stable. Some atoms have outer shells with fewer than ideal electrons and some have too many. By adding or losing these electrons, a bond is created and the atoms involved are more stable. These bonds then create new compounds.

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Ionic bonds

There are a number of different bonds and they vary depending on the elements involved. It can be difficult joining metals to other substances, which is why specialised metal bonding adhesives are required in many industries. When a metal atom and nonmetal atom combine, this is known as an ionic bond. When an ionic bond is formed, electrons are transferred from the metallic atom to the nonmetal, which forms ions. An ion is a charged atom. The metallic atom, having lost at least one electron will form a cation, which is a positively charged ion. The nonmetal will have gained electrons and become a negatively charged ion, an anion.

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Covalent bonds

A covalent bond is formed when a nonmetal combines with another nonmetal. In this situation, electron pairs are shared between the two nonmetal elements. This is the bonding seen in organic compounds containing carbon.

Metallic bonding

Specialised metal bonding adhesives can join metals to nonmetals and also other metallic items. When there are two metal elements, the chemical bond is known as a metallic bond. Metallic bonding can occur in both pure metals or alloys with two or more metals. In this type of bond, there is a sea of electrons to which electrons in the outer shells of the metals are donated. This forms positive metal ions, which can form a solid metal with metal ions packed closely together in a lattice structure.

Chemical bonding as described is behind so many of the compounds and reactions seen every day. The transformations caused by the bonds discussed create the building blocks of life, such as water and DNA, but also allow the compounds required in the literal building and construction work of the modern world.

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