Home

Home
Common Compounds
Exam Guide
FAQ
Features
Glossary
Construction Kits
Companion Notes
Just Ask Antoine!
Simulations
Slide Index
Toolbox
Tutorial Index

FAQ
Introduction
Measurement
Matter
Atoms & ions
Compounds
Chemical change
The mole
Gases
Energy & change
The quantum theory
Electrons in atoms
The periodic table
Chemical bonds
Solids
Liquids
Solutions
Acids & bases
Redox reactions
Reaction rates
Organic chemistry
Everyday chemistry
Inorganic chemistry
Environmental chemistry
Laboratory
History of chemistry
Miscellaneous


Home :FAQ :Simple compoundsPrint | Comment
Previous Question Next Question

What holds atoms together in molecules?

I understand that cations attract anions, and that's what holds ionic compounds together. What holds atoms together in molecules?

Molecules are held together by electrons shared between bonded atoms. For example, consider the formation of an H2 molecule from two separate hydrogen atoms:
covalent bond in H2
2 approaching
hydrogen atoms
(2 H)
a hydrogen molecule
(H2)
As the two atoms approach, each nucleus begins to attract the other atom's electrons. The shared electrons spend much of their time wedged between the two nuclei (where they can be be as close as possible to both of the positive charges at once). The attraction of nuclei for shared electrons holds the atoms together. A molecule has formed.

Because of the wavelike nature of electrons, you really need quantum mechanics to accurately describe this process.

Author: Fred Senese senese@antoine.frostburg.edu



General Chemistry Online! What holds atoms together in molecules?

Copyright © 1997-2010 by Fred Senese
Comments & questions to fsenese@frostburg.edu
Last Revised 08/17/15.URL: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/compounds/faq/covalent-bonding.shtml