If atoms are neutral, how do they share electrons

In summary, the conversation discusses the sharing of electrons between neutral atoms and how this results in the formation of covalent and ionic bonds. The stability of these bonds is determined by the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and their interactions with other atoms. The approach of one atom to another involves a gradual adaptation of electron clouds, resulting in a stable bonding configuration.
  • #1
Genji Shimada
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Homework Statement


If atoms are neutral, then how do they share electrons with each other? In the ionic bonding the metal requires very little energy do release its valence electrons, but once they are free, I don't see a force of attraction from the non metal nucleus because it is balanced. Don't tell me "Because non metal atoms want to have their shell complete" because I know atoms ain't persons, they don't have wishes, they act on the basis of electrostatic interactions.

Homework Equations

The Attempt at a Solution

 
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  • #2
So basically you are asking why hydrogen molecule is more stable than two separate hydrogen atoms, yes?
 
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  • #3
The atom is only neutral as seen from a large distance. It still has an attractive force in places where parts of the other electron orbitals are outside.
 
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  • #4
So basicaly an atom with 9 protons has attracted 9 electrons which arrange around the nucleus (in orbitals) in such a way that they are as far from one another as possible and at the same time they surround the nucleus in such a way that they ballance its positive charge. When another atom happens to get really close to the first one, it might find a weak spot in the first atom where for a brief moment the field is positive. And that positive field would attract vallance electrons from the first atom, forming covalent bonds and if that field is strong enough it could rip the excess electrons and then the atoms become ionized and stick together forming what's known as ionic bond. That's how i understand it.
 
  • #5
Genji Shimada said:
as far from one another as possible and at the same time they surround the nucleus in such a way that they ballance its positive charge
The electrons tend to repel each other, but the stable configurations (probability distributions, or atomic orbitals as you might know them) don't place the electrons as far as possible from one another.

Genji Shimada said:
When another atom happens to get really close to the first one, it might find a weak spot in the first atom where for a brief moment the field is positive.
A 'weak spot' might not be the best way to think about it. The approach of one atom to another from infinity to the equilibrium bond length is usually energetically monotonic in the adiabatic limit. In other words, it's better to realize that when one atom approaches another slowly, its electron cloud adapts its shape to the incoming perturbation from the other atom's electrons, and vice versa. This lowers the energy of the system, and the atoms continue on their approaching, energy-lowering path until a stable bonding configuration is reached.
 
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  • #6
There is no brief moment involved. If you calculate the electric field, it is zero for large separations, and attractive as soon as you get to the outermost orbitals with the radius considered. Where and how much exactly depends on the element.
 
  • #7
I understand, thanks!
 

Related to If atoms are neutral, how do they share electrons

1. How do atoms share electrons if they are neutral?

Atoms are neutral because they have an equal number of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. When atoms share electrons, they are not losing or gaining electrons, but rather forming covalent bonds by sharing their outermost electrons with other atoms.

2. What is the purpose of sharing electrons between atoms?

Sharing electrons between atoms allows them to achieve a more stable and lower energy state. This is because by sharing electrons, atoms can fill their outermost energy levels and achieve a full valence shell, which is a more stable configuration.

3. How do atoms decide how many electrons to share?

The number of electrons that atoms share is determined by their valence electrons, which are the electrons in the outermost energy level. Atoms will typically share enough electrons to achieve a full valence shell, which is usually 8 electrons for most atoms.

4. Do all atoms share electrons in the same way?

No, not all atoms share electrons in the same way. The way atoms share electrons depends on their electronegativity, which is a measure of their ability to attract electrons. Atoms with higher electronegativity will have a stronger pull on shared electrons, resulting in a polar covalent bond.

5. Can atoms share electrons with more than one other atom?

Yes, atoms can share electrons with more than one other atom. This is known as multiple bonding and occurs when atoms share two or more pairs of electrons with each other. This can result in double or triple bonds, which are stronger than single bonds.

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