Problem: Draw a single Lewis structure for the phosphate ion, assuming that the phosphorus atom can expand its octet, such that the formal charge on each of the atoms is minimized. Include all formal charges and lone-pair electrons.

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(1): P is less electronegative than O → P is central atom


(2): Total valence electrons

            Group             Valence Electrons

P            5A                   1 × 5 e5 e

O            6A                  4 × 6 e24 e

                   From –3 charge:        + 3 e

        Total:  32 valence e


(3) Structure and formal charges will appear as: 

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Problem Details

Draw a single Lewis structure for the phosphate ion, assuming that the phosphorus atom can expand its octet, such that the formal charge on each of the atoms is minimized. Include all formal charges and lone-pair electrons.

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