Ionic and covalent bonding

I've been wondering if atoms were lazy particles, because if Ionic bonding occurs when electrons are taken from one atom to another, and the electrostatic attractions between the oppositely charged particles keep them together, why is it that the covalent bond doesn't go ahead and switch the electrons to one side of the molecule instead of keeping them inbetween?

Edit: does it have to do with the fact that one atom does not have enough electronegativity to complete the bond?
 
Its not lazyness. It is beneficial for the the atoms in a covalent bond to "share" electrons. For example in Methane - CH4. Carbon has 4 outer electrons, hydrogen has 1. So in Methane, Carbon has 8 electrons in the outer shell, filling it. and with hydrogen sharing, it gains one. This means that Hydrogen has filled its shell of electrons, as the first shell has a capacity of two. It is in the best interests of covalent bonds to share electrons as they have similar tendencies to "want" extra electrons.

In ionic bonding it is slightly different in that it is metal bonding with non metal. The non metal wants to "take" an electron, and the metal wants to "give" one. So the full switch over occurs.

This is all explained very simply and not technically entirely correct, but I hope you get the idea.
 

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top