Chemical Bonds IV: Hydrogen

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  • 0:00 Bonding
  • 0:27 Intramolecular Forces
  • 1:46 Intermolecular Forces
  • 2:23 What Are Hydrogen Bonds?
  • 5:11 Daily Example
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson defines and discusses important concepts behind hydrogen bonding. You'll learn when and why these bonds occur and which atoms are often involved.


Man, is chemistry confusing or what? We can bond over that one fact, can't we? And one of the most confusing concepts in chemistry is bonding. In this lesson, you're going to learn about bonds; specifically, a bit about hydrogen bonding. But, this lesson will hopefully make hydrogen bonding very clear to you with a little help from Agent Bond - Adam Bond.

Intramolecular Forces

Before we can understand what a hydrogen bond is, we have to understand two concepts: intramolecular forces and intermolecular forces. First, let's look at intramolecular forces. Say Adam is in a room with two spies; each person represents a single atom and each person's arms represents a bond, which, for this lesson's sake, we can simply state, is an attraction, or attractive force, between atoms. If Adam reaches out with his left arm and grabs hold of one of the spies and then reaches out with his right arm and grabs the other spy, we now have a three atom molecule. A molecule simply put, is two or more atoms joined together via bonds.

Our three atom molecule is held together by Adam's arms, the bonds. When bonds occur inside molecules like this, we sometimes use the term intramolecular forces to refer to these internal bonds. Note the 'intra' in intramolecular. 'Intra' means, 'within something,' so intramolecular forces are the bonds holding a molecule together. These types of bonds occur via the sharing of electrons between atoms thanks to something known as covalent bonding. Covalent bonds are chemical bonds, or attractive forces, that arise thanks to the sharing of a pair of electrons between atoms.

Intermolecular Forces

Okay, that was easy, right? Now, imagine Adam and the two spies he has a hold of sticking to another group of three people, held together in a similar arrangement; in other words, two molecules are attracted to one another. These molecules are attracted to one another thanks to intermolecular forces, which are forces of attraction that occur between molecules. It is these forces that allow for the formation of liquids, like water, and solids. Note the 'inter,' in intermolecular. 'Inter' means between something - between molecules in this case. Don't get confused with 'intra,' which, again, refers to within something. With that little reminder out of the way, you are now ready to understand what a hydrogen bond is and isn't.

What Are Hydrogen Bonds?

A hydrogen bond is an intermolecular force between a hydrogen atom in one polar molecule and a small and very electronegative atom of another polar molecule. That's the simple definition. There is more to it. First, a hydrogen bond is an attraction/force/bond between two molecules. Second, it occurs between a hydrogen atom of one molecule and a very small and electronegative atom of another molecule.

Electronegativity can be simply phrased as the ability of an atom to attract electrons. The higher the electronegativity of an atom, the more strongly it will attract electrons. These very small and highly electronegative atoms are notably non-metals, like oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), and fluorine (F). In other words, hydrogen will form a bond with either an oxygen, nitrogen, or fluorine atom of another molecule in a hydrogen bond.

If a chemical bond occurs between two atoms of the same electronegativity, the atoms will share electrons between them equally and thus form a non-polar bond. However, if the atoms have different electronegativities, the electrons will not be shared equally and a polar bond will be formed. In this case, the more electronegative atom will have a partial negative charge and the other atom will have a partial positive charge. The charges are symbolized by the Greek letter 'Delta.' Due to a combination of the presence of a polar bond, as well as the shape or geometry of the molecule, a molecule might be electrically asymmetrical. We call such an electrically asymmetrical molecule a dipole. We can say it another way. A dipole is a molecule that's oppositely charged at two points. For this lesson's sake, we can equate the term 'dipole' to that of polar molecule, although these two terms are sometimes used differently.

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