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Problem: The following plot shows the potential energy of two Cl atoms as a function of the distance between them.What is the approximate bond strength for the Cl-Cl bond in Cl2 from this graph?

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We’re asked to determine the approximate bond strength for the Cl-Cl bond in Cl2 based on the given graph showing a plot of the potential energy of two Cl atoms as a function of the distance between them. 


Recall that the bond energy is the energy required to break a bond (pull two atoms completely apart) 

  • it is the same as the depth of the “well” in the potential energy curve.


The bond energy also determines the strength of the bond in a compound.

 the higher the bond energy, the higher is the energy required to break up the molecule/compound into its individual atoms
higher bond energyhigher bond strength


This means that for the given plot, the bond energy can be measured at the point wherein the Cl atoms have the strongest attractive forces but not too close together that they don't repel each other. 

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Problem Details

The following plot shows the potential energy of two Cl atoms as a function of the distance between them.

A line graph has Cl-Cl distance (angstroms) on the X-axis, ranging from 0 to 6.0 with intervals of 2.0, and energy (kilojoules per mole) on the Y-axis, ranging from -300 to 200 with intervals of 100.  The line appears asymptotic to an energy of 0 as the distance increases beyond 6 angstroms. The following data values are approximate: Cl-Cl distance of 0.5 angstroms correlates to an energy of 100 kJ/Mol; 1 angstrom and -100 kJ/Mol; 2 angstroms and -230 kJ/Mol; 3 angstroms and -170 kJ/Mol; 4 angstroms and -85 kJ/Mol; 5 angstroms and -20 kJ/Mol; 6 angstroms and -20 kJ/Mol.

What is the approximate bond strength for the Cl-Cl bond in Cl2 from this graph?

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Bond Energy concept. If you need more Bond Energy practice, you can also practice Bond Energy practice problems.