No need to go undercover to understand chemical bonding!
From our parents to our mentors to our friends, relationships give our lives meaning. Relationships help us to relieve stress in tough times and find ways to make the most out of difficult situations. Similarly, chemical elements do not shy away from the benefits of interacting with their neighbors on the periodic table. In fact, chemistry is in large part the study of how elements come together and break apart. At the center of these elemental relationships is the chemical bond.
What attracts two atoms together? Well, at the center of every atom is a dense, positively charged nucleus. Orbiting around the nucleus of every atom are tiny, negatively charged electrons. Atoms interact because the electrons of one are attracted to the nucleus of another.
In the example below, each red circle represents a hydrogen nucleus. Each hydrogen atom has one electron that orbits the nucleus. When a pair of hydrogen atoms are near enough to one another, their electrons will hover between the two nuclei. This forms the basis for the chemical bond that exists in H2, or hydrogen gas.
Bonding allows for the circulating electrons to stabilize in the space between the two positively charged nuclei. By sharing the two electrons, each hydrogen atom has a full set (valence) of electrons, which furthers the stability of the partnership.
In sum, the purpose of bonding in chemistry is to lower energy or stress through stable interactions. When the charged parts of neighboring atoms can settle into a stable arrangement, a strong bond results.
There you have it! A simple definition and explanation of chemical bonding.
For more relevant reading, check out these other blog posts, written by our chemistry tutors: How to Tell the Difference Between Bonds, The Basics of Retrosynthesis, and Nine Tips to Get You Through Orgo. Looking to work with Mike Gelinas? Feel free to get in touch! Cambridge Coaching offers private in-person tutoring in New York City and Boston, and online tutoring around the world.