What Is SO2 Hybridization?

SO2, commonly known as sulfur dioxide, has an sp3 hybridization. The molecular geometry of sulfur dioxide consists of two oxygen atoms bonded to the central sulfur atom.

Hybridization explains the molecular structure of a compound. Hybridization of molecules also forms more stable orbitals and stronger bonds at lower energy than unhybridized compounds. Sp3 hybridization explains the tetrahedral structure of molecules with bond angles of 109.5 degrees. In this shape, electron repulsion is minimized. For an atom to be sp3 hybridized, it must have one s orbital and three p orbitals.

Sp3 hybrid orbitals are delocalized, meaning that each orbital occupies the same energy level. Each sp3 hybrid orbital also has 25 percent s-character and 75 percent p-character. The greater the s-character, the closer the electrons are to the atom’s nucleus. The closer the electrons are to the nucleus, the stronger the bond. Thus, sp3 hybridized molecules have longer and weaker bonds than those of sp or sp2 hybridized molecules.

Sulfur dioxide is formed by the combustion of the pure sulfur element. It is commonly used to produce sulfuric acid, but is also used as a preservative for dried fruits because of its antimicrobial properties. As a preservative, it protects the color of the fruit and prevents rotting.