Bonding in Carbon


  • Acetylene
  • Sodium acetylide
  • Excitation energy
  • Reactive
  • Electrophile
  • Tetravalency
  • Catenation

Definition of Bonding in Carbon

Carbon on all occasions forms 4 covalent single bonds and it very rarely forms ionic bonds at all

More About Bonding in Carbon

  • Carbon forms ionic bond only when acetylene is treated with a strong base like sodium hydroxide which forms sodium acetylide (RC≡C )
  • The ground state electronic configuration of carbon is 1s2 2s2 2p2. When excited one electron from the 2s orbital goes to the 2p orbital hence facilitating the formation of the sp3 hybrid orbitals with one electron each which facilitates easy formation of four bonds
  • The energy required to excite the electron from the 2s orbital is low compared to other elements hence bonds are easily formed
  • Carbon also forms sp2 and sp hybrid orbitals which form double bond and triple bond (two double bonds) respectively with other carbons and other elements as well
  • The carbon-carbon double bond is very rigid and strong, however it is easily polarizable by an electrophile (electron loving molecules) hence it reacts more easily than carbon-carbon single bonds
  • Carbon also forms triple bonds which are even stronger and reactive than double bond because of an extra bond which can be easily polarized by an electrophile
  • Two double bond on the same carbon are quite reactive and only a few such compounds have been isolated
  • Carbon in all its compounds exhibits tetravalency needs 4 bonds to complete its octet
  • Catenation is the ability of an atom to form long chains with atoms of the same element which requires the single bond to be very strong
  • Carbon-carbon single bond itself is very strong (bond energy = 348 Kj/mol) which is why it exhibits catenation

Questions on bonding in carbon:

1) Which of the following compounds is the most reactive towards electrophiles?

    A) Ethane
    B) Ethylene
    C) Acetylene
    D) Methane

Answers: 1) Acetylene

2) Which other element can exhibit catenation?

    A) Silicon
    B) Helium
    C) Hydrogen
    D) Aluminum

Answers: Silicon