Ammonia NH3 Ionic or Covalent/ Molecular Bond?


Ammonia NH3 is surely a covalent bond. Three Hydrogen atoms share their outermost electrons with a nitrogen atom in order to complete the outermost octet. This results in achieving minimum energy and maximum stability. During the process, after becoming a covalent bond both atoms attain the nearest noble gas configuration.

Langmuir, in 1919 improved the Lewis concept. He suggests that only those atoms take part in a chemical combination that has short of electrons and wants to acquire the nearest noble gas configuration. They can share their electrons in order to complete their octets. Each atom contributes the same number of electrons to form common pairs which are then shared by both atoms.

As you can see from the diagram below, The shared pairs of electrons present between the atoms are called bond pairs because they are responsible for the bonding between the atoms.

On the other hand, the valence electrons which are not involved in bonding'(i.e. sharing) are shown called non-bonding or lone pairs or unshared pair of electrons.

Ammonia NH3 A Covalent/Molecular Bond

The explanations above, also clear that the

  • Single bond formation is represented by a single line (–).
  • Covalent bond may also be formed by the contribution of two or three electrons.

Let us examine the formation of an ammonia molecule NH3. In this case, the three hydrogen atoms with one nitrogen atom combine to produce ammonia.

NH3 Covalent bond

What we are seeing over here is– Each hydrogen atom (Z=1) is short of one electron to attain a stable configuration of helium. Whereas nitrogen having the atomic number Z= 7 needs three more electrons to have a stable configuration of argon. They can fulfill requirements if they make a covalent bond.

Each of them contributes one electron to form a commonly shared pair. By doing so, all three hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom complete their octet and are generally represented by and closing dots around the symbol by a circle or eclipse.

Overall, no doubt, the Lewis dot structure is a powerful method to understand the formation of a molecule to a greater extent. However, this structure has a number of limitations. Further scientists have improved the way of explaining the formation of molecules in their own developed methodology.

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