How Do You Calculate Bond Order?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 27, 2020 9:17:51 AM ET
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The bond order, which is the number of bonds between any two given atoms, is calculated using the formula: Bond order = (Bonding electrons - Anti-bonding electrons) / 2.The Lewis structures of atoms form the basis for calculating the bond order.

The bond order of a molecule that has multiple Lewis structures is calculated as the average of these Lewis structures. For example, sulfur dioxide has three bonds: a single bond for sulfur oxide in one Lewis structure and a double bond for sulfur oxide in a different Lewis structure within the molecule. This gives a bond order of 1.5, which is the average value of the three bonds.

In molecular orbital theory, bond orders are calculated by assuming that a pair of electrons in a bonding molecular orbital form one bond while a pair of electrons in a non-bonding molecular orbital nullify the effect of one bond.

For example, the bonding molecular orbital of the oxygen molecule has eight valence electrons while the anti-bonding molecular orbital of the same molecule has four valence electrons. So, the bond order of the oxygen molecule can be calculated as follows:

Bond order = (Bonding electrons - Anti-bonding electrons) / 2

  1. Bond order = (8 - 4) / 2
  2. Bond order = 4 / 2
  3. Bond order = 2