Organic Chemistry/Foundational concepts of organic chemistry/Electronegativity

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Whenever two atoms form a bond, the nucleus of each atom attracts the other's electrons. Electronegativity is a measure of the strength of this attraction.

Periodic trends[edit]

Several traits of atoms are said to have "periodic trends", meaning that different atoms in a period have identifiable relationships to one another based on their position. Is that confusing? Think of the periodic table as a group picture, maybe of a very large basketball team. Each period is a row of players in the picture, and the "photographer" has decided to arrange the "players" by their characteristics. Of course, no conscious effort was made to arrange the periodic table by any characteristic other than number of protons, but some properties are consistent in its layout regardless.

Atomic size is one characteristic that shows a periodic trend. In case of atomic radius the "photographer" (Mendeleev and others since) decided to arrange "players" (atoms) by size with the very shortest and smallest players at the top right. As you go left to right along a row (a period) the atoms get sequentially smaller and smaller. Fluorine is smaller than carbon, and carbon is smaller than magnesium. This is due to the number of protons in the nucleus increasing, while the increasing number of electrons are unable to shield one another from the attractive force of the positive charge from the nucleus.

REMEMBER: largest > Li > Be > B > C > N > O > F > Ne > smallest


Another characteristic with a periodic trend is ionization energy. This is the amount of energy necessary to remove one electron from an atom. Since all the atoms favor an electron configuration of a noble gas, the atoms at the extreme left of the table will give up their first electron most readily. (In almost all cases, a metal will readily give up its first electron.) The halogens, which need only one more electron to fill their outer shells, require a great deal of energy to give up an electron because they would be much more stable if they gained one electron instead. Ionization energy is the opposite of atomic radius, therefore, because it increases from left to right across a period.

REMEMBER: least energy to ionize < Li < Be < B < C < N < O < F < Ne < most energy to ionize


Electronegativity is perhaps the most important periodic trend, and it is not related to ionization energy directly -- but its trend is the same, increasing from left to right. Also, the elements in a group (like the halogen group) gain stability as they grow in atomic number, so the smallest member of an electronegative group is often the most electronegative. In general, it can be said that among periods (rows) or groups (columns) of the periodic table, the closer an element is to fluorine, the more electronegative it will be. For Group VIIA (the aforementioned halogens) of the periodic table, you memorize the following relationships:

REMEMBER: most electronegative > F > Cl > Br > I > least electronegative

And REMEMBER: least electronegative < Li < Be < B < C < N < O < F < most electronegative


(Notice that the noble gas Neon is not on the electronegativity chart. In its non-ionized form, a noble gas is usually treated as if it has no electronegativity at all.)

Electronegativities of atoms common in organic chemistry[edit]

  • C - 2.55
  • H - 2.20
  • N - 3.04
  • O - 3.44
  • P - 2.19
  • S - 2.58
  • Cl - 3.16
  • Br - 2.96
  • F - 3.98

Higher numbers represent a stronger attraction of electrons.

When atoms of similar electronegativity bond, a nonpolar covalent bond is the result.

Common nonpolar bonds

C-C

H-C

When atoms of slightly different electronegativities bond, a polar covalent bond results.

Common polar bonds

δ+ C-O δ-

δ+ C-N δ-

δ- O-H δ+

δ- N-H δ+

δ- and δ+ represent partial charges

When atoms of very different electronegativities bond, an ionic bond results.

Electronegativity content from Wikipedia[edit]

Electronegativity is a measure of the ability of an atom or molecule to attract electrons in the context of a chemical bond. The type of bond formed is largely determined by the difference in electronegativity between the atoms involved. Atoms with similar electronegativities will share an electron with each other and form a covalent bond. However, if the difference is too great, the electron will be permanently transferred to one atom and an ionic bond will form. Furthermore, in a covalent bond if one atom pulls slightly harder than the other, a polar covalent bond will form.

The reverse of electronegativity, the ability of an atom to lose electrons, is known as electropositivity.

Two scales of electronegativity are in common use: the Pauling scale (proposed in 1932) and the Mulliken scale (proposed in 1934). Another proposal is the Allred-Rochow scale.

Pauling scale[edit]

The Pauling scale was devised in 1932 by Linus Pauling. On this scale, the most electronegative chemical element (fluorine) is given an electronegativity value of 3.98 (textbooks often state this value to be 4.0); the least electronegative element (francium) has a value of 0.7, and the remaining elements have values in between. On the Pauling scale, hydrogen is arbitrarily assigned a value of 2.1 or 2.2.

'δEN' is the difference in electronegativity between two atoms or elements. Bonds between atoms with a large electronegativity difference (greater than or equal to 1.7) are usually considered to be ionic, while values between 1.7 and 0.4 are considered polar covalent. Values below 0.4 are considered non-polar covalent bonds, and electronegativity differences of 0 indicate a completely non-polar covalent bond.

Mulliken scale[edit]

The Mulliken scale was proposed by Robert S. Mulliken in 1934. On the Mulliken scale, numbers are obtained by averaging ionization potential and electron affinity. Consequently, the Mulliken electronegativities are expressed directly in energy units, usually electron volts.

Electronegativity trends[edit]

Each element has a characteristic electronegativity ranging from 0 to 4 on the Pauling scale. The most strongly electronegative element, fluorine, has an electronegativity of 3.98 while weakly electronegative elements, such as lithium, have values close to 1. The least electronegative element is francium at 0.7. In general, the degree of electronegativity decreases down each group and increases across the periods, as shown below. Across a period, non-metals tend to gain electrons and metals tend to lose them due to the atom striving to achieve a stable octet. Down a group, the nuclear charge has less effect on the outermost shells. Therefore, the most electronegative atoms can be found in the upper, right hand side of the periodic table, and the least electronegative elements can be found at the bottom left. Consequently, in general, atomic radius decreases across the periodic table, but ionization energy increases.

→ Atomic radius decreases → Ionization energy increases → Electronegativity increases →
Group 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Period
1 H
2.20
He
 
2 Li
0.98
Be
1.57
B
2.04
C
2.55
N
3.04
O
3.44
F
3.98
Ne
 
3 Na
0.93
Mg
1.31
Al
1.61
Si
1.90
P
2.19
S
2.58
Cl
3.16
Ar
 
4 K
0.82
Ca
1.00
Sc
1.36
Ti
1.54
V
1.63
Cr
1.66
Mn
1.55
Fe
1.83
Co
1.88
Ni
1.91
Cu
1.90
Zn
1.65
Ga
1.81
Ge
2.01
As
2.18
Se
2.55
Br
2.96
Kr
3.00
5 Rb
0.82
Sr
0.95
Y
1.22
Zr
1.33
Nb
1.6
Mo
2.16
Tc
1.9
Ru
2.2
Rh
2.28
Pd
2.20
Ag
1.93
Cd
1.69
In
1.78
Sn
1.96
Sb
2.05
Te
2.1
I
2.66
Xe
2.6
6 Cs
0.79
Ba
0.89
*
 
Hf
1.3
Ta
1.5
W
2.36
Re
1.9
Os
2.2
Ir
2.20
Pt
2.28
Au
2.54
Hg
2.00
Tl
1.62
Pb
2.33
Bi
2.02
Po
2.0
At
2.2
Rn
 
7 Fr
0.7
Ra
0.9
**
 
Rf
 
Db
 
Sg
 
Bh
 
Hs
 
Mt
 
Ds
 
Rg
 
Uub
 
Uut
 
Uuq
 
Uup
 
Uuh
 
Uus
 
Uuo
 
Lanthanides *
 
La
1.1
Ce
1.12
Pr
1.13
Nd
1.14
Pm
1.13
Sm
1.17
Eu
1.2
Gd
1.2
Tb
1.1
Dy
1.22
Ho
1.23
Er
1.24
Tm
1.25
Yb
1.1
Lu
1.27
Actinides **
 
Ac
1.1
Th
1.3
Pa
1.5
U
1.38
Np
1.36
Pu
1.28
Am
1.13
Cm
1.28
Bk
1.3
Cf
1.3
Es
1.3
Fm
1.3
Md
1.3
No
1.3
Lr
 
Periodic table of electronegativity using the Pauling scale



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