Question Video: Recalling the Number of Electrons in a Double Covalent Bond Chemistry

How many electrons are shared in a double bond between two oxygen atoms?


Video Transcript

How many electrons are shared in a double bond between two oxygen atoms?

Oxygen is an element, and we can find information about the element on the periodic table. The atomic number of the element oxygen is eight. This means that oxygen atoms contain eight protons. And since atoms are by definition neutral, we have eight electrons as well, eight electrons to balance out the charge of the eight protons. The question asks about electrons shared in a double bond between two oxygen atoms. Now, oxygen is a nonmetal, so we’d expect a certain type of bonding. And the word “shared” gives us the start of it, co- in covalent.

Now the “valent” part in covalent refers to the valence electrons. Valence electrons are simply those electrons in the outer or valence shell of an atom or ion. An oxygen atom has eight electrons and the first two fill the first electron shell. And the remaining six occupy the second electron shell, but the second electron shell can fit a maximum of eight electrons. We can find more electrons to fill that available space in our second oxygen atom. Since the valence shells are the only ones of interest here, I’m going to remove the inner shell.

If the atoms get closer together, some of the electrons are shared between the two nuclei, helping to produce a more stable configuration. Since this involves sharing of valence electrons, we have a covalent bond. And since there are four electrons involved, we’re dealing with a double covalent bond. The quick way round is just to remember that a double covalent bond contains four electrons, a single contains two, and a triple contains six. So how many electrons are shared in the double bond between two oxygen atoms? Four.

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