Metalwork - Materials - Chemical Bonds
Chemical Bonds are the joining or bonding forces that connect Atoms together to form what we see all around us in the world. In fact, only for Chemical Bonds the Universe would still look like it did after the Big Bang. You should probably have a look at the section on Atomic Structure before you try and figure out what's going on here.
There are 112 different types of atoms know at the
moment. Most of these atoms do not 'wish' to exist on
their own and so they join up with other atoms that have the
same 'problem'. Unfortunatly, the facts are not quite
so simple. The number of Electrons an atom has determine wheather it has to bond or not.
You can probably guess what type of material is usually formed by a Metallic Bond....yes a metal! But why? Well most metal atoms only have a few 'lonely' electrons in their outer shell and so they are willing to lose these atoms without putting up too much of a fight. We will take an atom of Aluminium as a example. The Aluminium atom has only 3 electrons in its outer shell, but it would like to have 8. The atom now has a decision to make, lose 3 electrons or gain 5. It should be obvious that it is easier to lose 3 than to gain 5. So when metal atoms join up or bond they all get rid of their excess electrons. Now we're going to get a bit more technical.. When an atom loses an electron its charge changes to positive, and a positively charged atom is called a Cation. Where do all the electrons go, I hear you ask? Well they just flow around between the Cations, and are 'shared' by them all, (so in a way our friend, the Aluminium atom has both lost 3 electrons and gained 5 electrons). In the diagram below you can see the Cations in blue surrounded by green which is the electrons. All of the electrons together are generally called 'a sea of electrons' by the scientists. Therefore each metal atom is bonded to a 'sea' of electrons. Remember electrons are negatively charged.
Therefore a Metallic Bond consists of Cations in a 'sea' of electrons. The Cations can slip over eachother when a force, such as the blow of a hammer, is applied and this gives metals Ductility, which is the ability of a metal to be reshaped without breaking. Also the electrons can move very easily around the metal making metals very good conductors of heat and electricity.
Well it doesn't look like the name of this type of bonding
is going to help much! Actually the name is quite appropriate,
but it is too much to go into at the moment. For now it is
suffice to say Covalent Bonding essentially means 'the
sharing of electrons' Again we're back to the fact that atoms are not 'happy' unless their outer shell is full. What better way to solve the
problem can there be but to get together with other atoms that
are in the same prediciment, and share the electrons.
Well if that's enough for you then you better scroll back
to the top... because here comes the realy interesting
The name of this type of bonding gives us a clue. Remember when we taked about Metallic Bonding we spoke of Cations. Cations are positively charged atoms. A charged atom is called an Ion. We know what a positive ion is called, but a negative ion is called an Anion. So Ionic Bonding has to do with the bonding of Ions. We are going to look at Sodium Chloride(NaCl) as an an example.....what? You know it better as Salt. Sodium has 1 electron in its outer shell, so guess what...its not 'happy'. Chlorine has 7 electrons in its outer shell...yeah its not 'happy' either. So when they get together Sodium gives its extra electron to Chlorine. Now both atoms are happy. A side effect of this is that Sodium now has less electrons than it has protons, and so its charge is positive, making it a Cation. And Chlorine now has more electrons than it has protons making it negative, an Anion. The atoms now come together because the have opposite charges and they are attracted to eachother. In the diagram below notice how the atoms alternate between positive and negative. The Ions are held together by Electrostatic Forces.
So in an Ionic Bond atoms give up and take on electrons resulting in a change in charge which causes the atoms to be attracted to eachother.