Benzene is an organic chemical compound with the molecular formula C6H6. In the benzene molecule, carbon atoms form a ring with alternating single and double bonds connecting them. Thus, each individual carbon atom forms one σ bond with another carbon atom and one σ and one π bond with another carbon atom. Each carbon atom also forms one σ bond with a hydrogen atom.
Identify which types of orbitals overlap to form the bonds between the atoms in a benzene molecule.
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Chemical bonds are formed by linear combinations of atomic orbitals. These atomic orbitals should have compatible energies. An axial overlap of these orbitals results in the formation of a σ bond, whereas a lateral overlap results in the formation of a π bond.
When two atomic orbitals on different atoms approach each other, two molecular orbitals are formed: one bonding molecular orbital and one antibonding molecular orbital. The bonding molecular orbital has a lower energy than the corresponding atomic orbitals; antibonding orbitals have higher energies than the corresponding atomic orbitals. An example using the hydrogen molecule is shown here. However, the same rule applies to systems with multiple atomic orbitals. For each atomic orbital that overlaps, one molecular orbital must form. In the diagram below, 1s orbitals from two hydrogen atoms combine to form one bonding σ1s orbital and one antibonding σ1s* orbital. The total number of bonding and antibonding orbitals is always equal to the number of orbitals that overlap.
Similarly, molecular orbitals can also be formed by the overlapping of hybrid orbitals. The hybrid orbitals are formed by the linear combination of different atomic orbitals of nearly equal energy on the same atom. The atomic orbitals of nearly equal energy undergo a process of mixing and reorientation to form new orbitals of lower energy. This process is called hybridization. For example, hybridization of one s and two p orbitals on an atom forms three sp2 hybrid orbitals.
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