sp2 Hybridization


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This shows a series of three diagrams with one on the left connected to one on the right by a right-facing arrow that is labeled, “Hybridization.” Below the one on the right is a downward-facing arrow labeled, “Gives a trigonal planar arrangement,” connecting to the last diagram. The first diagram shows a blue spherical orbital labeled “S” and then two red and blue, peanut-shaped orbitals, each placed on an X, Y, Z axis system, labeled “P subscript x” and “P subscript y.” The two red and blue orbitals are located on the x and z axes, respectively. The second diagram shows the three orbitals again on an X, Y, Z axis system, but they are yellow and have one enlarged lobe and one smaller lobe. Each lies in a different axis in the drawing. The third diagram shows the same three orbitals, but their smaller lobes now overlap while their larger lobes are located at and labeled as “120 degrees” from one another.
Figure 1. The hybridization of an s orbital (blue) and two p orbitals (red) produces three equivalent sp2 hybridized orbitals (yellow) oriented at 120° with respect to each other. The remaining unhybridized p orbital is not shown here, but is located along the z axis. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

sp2 Hybridization (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

The valence orbitals of a central atom surrounded by three regions of electron density consist of a set of three sp2 hybrid orbitals and one unhybridized p orbital. This arrangement results from sp2 hybridization, the mixing of one s orbital and two p orbitals to produce three identical hybrid orbitals oriented in a trigonal planar geometry (Figure 1).

Although quantum mechanics yields the “plump” orbital lobes as depicted in Figure 1, sometimes for clarity these orbitals are drawn thinner and without the minor lobes, as in Figure 2, to avoid obscuring other features of a given illustration. We will use these “thinner” representations whenever the true view is too crowded to easily visualize.

Three balloon-like orbitals are shown, and connect together near their narrower ends in one plane. The angle between a pair of lobes is labeled, “120 degrees.”
Figure 2. This alternate way of drawing the trigonal planar sp2 hybrid orbitals is sometimes used in more crowded figures. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

The observed structure of the borane molecule, BH3, suggests sp2 hybridization for boron in this compound. The molecule is trigonal planar, and the boron atom is involved in three bonds to hydrogen atoms (Figure 3). We can illustrate the comparison of orbitals and electron distribution in an isolated boron atom and in the bonded atom in BH3 as shown in the orbital energy level diagram in Figure 4. We redistribute the three valence electrons of the boron atom in the three sp2 hybrid orbitals, and each boron electron pairs with a hydrogen electron when B–H bonds form.

A boron atom is shown connected to three hydrogen atoms, which are arranged around it like a pyramid. The angle from one line connecting the boron atom to a hydrogen atom to another line connecting the boron atom to a hydrogen atom is labeled, “120 degrees.”
Figure 3. BH3 is an electron-deficient molecule with a trigonal planar structure. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e
A diagram is shown in two parts, connected by a right facing arrow labeled, “Hybridization.” The left diagram shows an up-facing arrow labeled “E.” To the lower right of the arrow is a short, horizontal line labeled, “2 s,” that has two vertical half-arrows facing up and down on it. To the upper right of the arrow are a series of three short, horizontal lines labeled, “2 p.” Above both sets of these lines is the phrase, “Orbitals in an isolated B atom.” One of the lines has a vertical, up-facing arrow drawn on it. The right side of the diagram shows three short, horizontal lines placed halfway up the space and each labeled, “s p superscript 2.” An upward-facing half arrow is drawn vertically on each line. Above these lines is one other short, horizontal line, labeled, “2 p.” Above both sets of lines is the phrase, “Orbitals in the s p superscript 2 hybridized B atom in B H subscript 3.”
Figure 4. In an isolated B atom, there are one 2s and three 2p valence orbitals. When boron is in a molecule with three regions of electron density, three of the orbitals hybridize and create a set of three sp2 orbitals and one unhybridized 2p orbital. The three half-filled hybrid orbitals each overlap with an orbital from a hydrogen atom to form three σ bonds in BH3. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Any central atom surrounded by three regions of electron density will exhibit sp2 hybridization. This includes molecules with a lone pair on the central atom, such as ClNO (Figure 5), or molecules with two single bonds and a double bond connected to the central atom, as in formaldehyde, CH2O, and ethene, H2CCH2.

Three Lewis structures are shown. The left-hand structure shows a chlorine atom surrounded by three lone pairs of electrons single bonded to a nitrogen atom with one lone pair of electrons and double bonded to an oxygen atom with two lone pairs of electrons. The middle structure shows a carbon atom single bonded to two hydrogen atoms and double bonded to an oxygen atom that has two lone pairs of electrons. The right-hand structure shows two carbon atoms, double bonded to one another and each single bonded to two hydrogen atoms.
Figure 5. The central atom(s) in each of the structures shown contain three regions of electron density and are sp2 hybridized. As we know from the discussion of VSEPR theory, a region of electron density contains all of the electrons that point in one direction. A lone pair, an unpaired electron, a single bond, or a multiple bond would each count as one region of electron density. Source: OpenStax Chemistry 2e

Related Topic: Hybrid Atomic Orbitals


Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e


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