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SCH4U0

Bonding & the Shape of Organic Molecules


Organic compounds are defined as compounds that are based on carbon. They usually
contain carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bonds.
The Carbon Atom
Due to the bonding properties of carbon, there are several million organic compounds (versus
million inorganic compounds).
Each carbon atom has the ability to form up to 4 covalent bonds. Therefore, each
carbon atom ca connect to as many as 4 other atoms (in organic chemistry, most
notably hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen).
Carbon atoms can form strong single, double, or triple bonds with other carbon
atoms.

Carbons unique bonding properties allow the formation of a variety of structures, including
chains, rings or many shapes and sizes.
Carbon compounds in which a carbon forms only single bonds (a saturated compound) have
a different shape than compounds in which carbon forms double or triple bonds (unsaturated
compounds).
Common Molecular Shapes in Organic Molecules
Central Atom
Shape
Tetrahedral Carbon is in the
centre of a tetrahedron where
Carbon with 4 single bonds. 4 other atoms are at the
vertices of the tetrahedron
(109.5o from each other).

Carbon with 1 double bond &


2 single bonds.

Trigonal planar Carbon is in


the centre of a triangle where
3 other atoms are at the
vertices of the triangle (120o
from each other).

Carbon with 2 double bonds


or 1 triple bond & 1 single
bond.

Linear Carbon is in the


centre and 2 other atoms are
stretched out to either side
(180o from each other).

Diagram

Oxygen with 2 single bonds.

Bent Oxygen forms 2 single


bonds leaving 2 non-bonding
pairs of electrons. The nonbonding electrons repel the
bonding electrons to 2
vertices of a tetrahedron
(104.5o from each other).

Nitrogen with 3 single bonds.

Trigonal pyramidal Nitrogen


forms 3 single bonds leaving
1 non-bonding pair of
electrons. The non-bonding
electrons repel the bonding
electrons to 3 vertices of a
tetrahedron (107o from each
other).

Three-Dimensional Structural Diagrams


In a three-dimensional diagram, wedges are used to give the
impression that an atom or group is coming forward, out of the page.
Dashed or dotted lines are used to show that an atom or group is
receding, or being pushed back into the page.
Molecular Shape and Polarity
The 3D shape of a molecule is important, especially when the molecule contains polar bonds
(0.5 < EN < 1.7). Recall that every polar bond has a bond dipole (a partial negative change
and a partial positive charge at opposite ends of a covalent bond). In organic chemistry, polar
covalent bonds such as, C=O, CO, OH, and NH are of particular importance.
Predicting Molecular Polarity
A molecule is considered to be polar when it has an overall imbalance of charge (i.e. has
polar bonds and is asymmetrical).
If equal bond dipoles act in opposite directions in 3D space, they counteract each
other.

If the bond dipoles in a molecule do not counteract each other exactly, the molecule
is polar.

Steps to Predicting Molecular Polarity

No
Does the
molecule
have polar
bonds?

Non-Polar
molecule

No

Yes

Yes

Is there
more than
one polar
bond?

No

Do the
bond
dipoles act
in opposite
directions?

Yes

Polar
molecule

Homework
Read Section 1.1 Bonding and the Shape of Organic Molecules (pg. 5 11)
Answer Practice Problems #1 4.
Answer Section Review #2 5.

Polar
molecule

Non-Polar
molecule