Why do atoms want to complete their shells?

In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of atoms creating bonds with other atoms in order to complete their outer shells and achieve a lower energy configuration. The physical mechanism behind this phenomenon is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the number of electrons in the outer shell and their spin. The conversation also mentions the role of covalent bonds and suggests further research on the topic.
  • #1
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Hi,

I have a basic knowledge of chemistry from high school days.

I remember once being told that a neutral hydrogen has one electron in its shell but it wants to complete its outer shell by having two electrons, and this makes hydrogen atom to create bonds with other atoms.

Likewise, a neutral atom such as that of chlorine has seven electrons in its outer shell but it likes to have eight electrons and therefore a chlorine atom loves to make bonds with other atoms.

The atoms of inert gases have complete outer shells therefore they have least interest making any bonds.

Those atoms don't have a desire of their own and behind that "it wants" and "it likes" there should be some physical phenomenon or mechanism which pushes the atoms in that direction of making bonds. Otherwise, I think, a neutral atom should be more happy.

Question:
What is that physical mechanism? Does that mechanism have something to do with having such number of electrons in the outer shell where the spin of one electron counters the opposite spin of another electron?

If it's really about the spin, then what is so bad about the spin of a single electron that it should be cancelled by an opposing spin of another electron even though the atom will no longer be neutral? For example, when a hydrogen has two electrons in its shell, the atom is no longer neutral.

Could you please guide me?
 
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  • #2
I think covalent bond is the key word for you to understand the issue.
 
  • #3
To keep things simple, think in terms of the lowest energy configuration.
 
  • #4
PainterGuy said:
Could you please guide me?
There must be so much about this online. At all levels of detail.
 
  • #5
PeroK said:
There must be so much about this online. At all levels of detail.

Yes, they mostly answer in terms of complete shells. Anyway, I will keep looking.
 
  • #6
As it was already said: think in terms of the lowest energy configuration.
 
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