Chemical Bonding: Covalent, ionic, and metallic bonds


Chemical bonding refers to the interactions between atoms that result in the formation of molecules or solids. There are three primary types of chemical bonds: covalent, ionic, and metallic bonds.

Covalent Bonds

Covalent bonding occurs when two or more atoms share electrons in order to achieve a more stable electron configuration. This type of bonding typically occurs between non-metal atoms. In a covalent bond, the electrons are shared between the atoms in order to achieve a full outer shell. The shared electrons are referred to as a "bonding pair" and are represented by a single line between the atoms.

For example, in a molecule of water, the oxygen atom shares two electrons with two hydrogen atoms to form two covalent bonds:


Ionic Bonds

Ionic bonding occurs when one or more electrons are transferred from one atom to another to form ions. The resulting ions are attracted to each other due to the difference in charge, forming an ionic bond. Ionic bonds typically occur between metals and non-metals.

For example, in a molecule of sodium chloride, the sodium atom donates one electron to the chlorine atom, forming positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions:

Na+ + Cl- → NaCl

Metallic Bonds

Metallic bonding occurs when metal atoms share their valence electrons to form a "sea" of electrons that are free to move throughout the metal lattice. This type of bonding results in metals having unique properties such as high electrical and thermal conductivity, malleability, and ductility.

For example, in a metal such as copper, the valence electrons are shared between all of the copper atoms, forming a lattice structure with a sea of electrons that are free to move throughout the metal.

Bond Polarity

In covalent bonds, the sharing of electrons may not be equal, resulting in a bond polarity. When the electrons are shared equally, the bond is nonpolar, but when the electrons are shared unequally, the bond is polar. Polar covalent bonds occur when there is a difference in electronegativity between the atoms involved in the bond.

For example, in a molecule of hydrogen chloride, the electronegativity of chlorine is higher than that of hydrogen, resulting in a polar covalent bond:


In summary, chemical bonding refers to the interactions between atoms that result in the formation of molecules or solids. Covalent bonding occurs when atoms share electrons, ionic bonding occurs when electrons are transferred, and metallic bonding occurs when valence electrons are shared throughout the metal lattice. Bond polarity occurs when electrons are shared unequally in a covalent bond. Understanding these types of chemical bonds is essential to understanding the properties and behavior of chemical compounds.

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