Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Lewis structure for Nitrogen Dioxide

  1. Nov 13, 2011 #1
    I am pondering on what the correct Lewis structure(s) for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) may be...
    I have come up with 7 possible structures, but am unsure which are correct and which are not. I have compiled a small list of notes for your convenience and they are all in this picture.

    Which structure(s) are correct and which are incorrect and why?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2011 #2
    Its a resonance structure that is a combination of structures 3 and 4:
    Think about benzene. Its lewis structure isn't actually this:
    in reality its Lewis structure is this:
    because the double bonds are constantly changing position.
  4. Nov 18, 2011 #3
    But shouldn't the electrons be placed on the more electronegative atom, i.e. oxygen, so that nitrogen gets the lone pair, giving it Lewis structures 1 and 2?
  5. Nov 21, 2011 #4
  6. Nov 25, 2011 #5
    It is chemical resonance, as CrimpJiggler said, but its not so much that the electrons are in constant fluctuation, but rather the odd electrons that could be bonded or non-bonded are involved in a sort of delocalized electron orbital that surrounds the entire molecule, apparently the delocalization of the electrons actually lowers their potential, making the resonant molecule more stable than either standard lewis formation.
  7. Nov 25, 2011 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    In fact, you any valence structure which is compartible with none of the orbitals being filled by more than two electrons and a total of 23 electrons is valid and will contribute to some extent to the true wavefunction of the molecule. The relative importance of the structures depends not only on the molecule itself but also on the orbital basis considered (i.e. s and p type or hybrids, orthogonalized or not).
    Nevertheless the two structures shown in the video will probably be most important, at least for a qualitative description of the molecule.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook