Q:

Why do atoms form bonds?

A:

Quick Answer

Atoms form bonds with other atoms because of the electrostatic attraction between positively-charged protons and negatively-charged electrons. When this force of attraction brings atoms together to form substances containing two or more atoms, the bond is called a chemical bond. There are many types of chemical bonds, but the three major, or primary, types are ionic, covalent and metallic.

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Full Answer

The three major chemical bond types represent the three different ways that metals and nonmetals combine. The attraction between the atoms is the result of the varying characteristics of the outermost electrons, which are called valence electrons. These are the electrons that are involved in the creation of the chemical bond.

An ionic bond occurs between a metal and a nonmetal. An example is the chemical bond that forms between the metal sodium and the nonmetal chlorine to create the compound sodium chloride commonly known as table salt (NaCl). In an ionic chemical bond, electrons from the metallic substance are transferred to the atoms of the nonmetallic substance.

Covalent bonds occur between nonmetallic substances. An example would be the bond formed between two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom to form the compound water (H2O). In a covalent bond, the electrons are shared between the atoms. The third major type of chemical bond, the metallic bond, is formed between metallic atoms. Valance electrons are easily set free from metallic substances and can move freely, which is a characteristic that gives metals the properties of thermal and electrical conductivity.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How would metallic bonds be described?

    A:

    The bonds that hold the atoms in metals together are often described as being built upon metal ions that are floating in a sea of electrons. This is because the electrons in the outer shells, or valence shells, of metals are loosely held. The valence electrons are free to move from one atom to another.

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  • Q:

    What happens to electrons in polar covalent bonds?

    A:

    In a polar covalent bond, the electrons are shared unevenly between the two bonded atoms. This means that the electrons, which are constantly moving, spend more time with the one atom than the other. Only the outer most electrons, known as valence electrons, are involved in polar covalent bonds.

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  • Q:

    How is a coordinate covalent bond different from normal covalent bonds?

    A:

    Coordinate covalent bonds, also known as coordinate links or semipolar bonds, are different from normal covalent bonds because both of the electrons that are shared by the bonded atoms originally come from the same atom. This contrasts with normal covalent bonds, in which each atom gives up one of the two electrons that form the shared electron pair.

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  • Q:

    How many bonds can chlorine form?

    A:

    A chlorine atom can form a single covalent bond, according to the University of Wisconsin chemistry department website. Chlorine atoms have seven electrons in their outer shells and can only share a single electron with another atom to fill that outer electron shell.

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