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Hybridization of Atomic Orbitals

Physical studies of the simplest hydrocarbon, methane (CH 4), have shown the following:
1) all of the carbonhydrogen bond lengths are equal
2) all of the hydrogencarbonhydrogen bond angles are equal
3) all of the bond angles are equal to 109 28
4) all of the bonds are covalent.
The ground state, or unexcited state, of the carbon atom (Z = 6) has the following electron
configuration. Groundstate carbon cannot bond to
four atoms, as we would expect for
methane in lieu of the tetravalency of
carbon, because it has only two half
filled orbitals available for bond
formation [This explains the bonding in
CO ]. Adding energy to the system
promotes a 2s electron to a 2p orbital,
However, these bonds would not all be of the same length because, s orbitals are closer to the
nucleus, and therefore a bond formed by the overlap of two s orbitals or that between a s orbital
and a p orbital, would be shorter than that formed by the head-on overlap of two p orbitals. The
order of lengths for head on overlap of two orbitals would be as follows:

s-s < s-p < p-p < s-d < p-d < d-d Energisation, or the process
- Bond length increases of imparting energy, to the
carbon atom in the ground
state, leads to the excitation
of an electron in the 2s
orbital to cause its migration
to a 2p orbital, resulting in
two sets of half-filled orbitals-
the 2s set and the 2p set are
both half filled. As we know
that fully-filled and half-filled
orbitals are exceptionally
stable, on account of
maximum exchange
In other words, atomic s orbitals are more deep-
seated in the atom than atomic p orbitals.
To achieve equal bond lengths, all the orbitals would have to be of the same type. The creation of
identical orbitals occurs by a process of hybridization. Hybridization is an internal linear
combination of atomic orbitals (LCAO), in which the wave functions of the atomic s and p orbitals
are added together to generate new hybrid wave functions.
[Here we will digress from our story a little, to get a greater degree of insight into the history of the
development of atomic structure, which is crucial to our understanding of organic chemistry.]

Q. What is a wave function?


A: Let us keep this question on hold for some time. We will answer it shortly, but we have some
ground to cover before we reach this territory. Before we answer this question, we need to answer
some auxiliary questions:
a) What do we mean by saying that An electron has dual nature?
Ans.: The years post 1900 were momentous, if not uniquely so, only because the roots of the surge
in development of chemical theory were laid in the latter half of the 19 th century, i.e. post 1850.
Workers such as Pasteur, Kekule, Vant Hoff, le Bel, Heitler and London, Lewis, Coulson, Condon, et
al., unearthed fundamentally important stepping stones in particle physics and chemical bonding. The
understanding of the structure of the atom came from twofold approaches both from physics and from
chemistry. Albert Einstein, Compton, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrdinger, Linus
Pauling, Louis de Broglie and other workers performed path-breaking experiments and deductions
that led into radical changes in quantum mechanics and the understanding of the atom.
In short, the particle nature of electrons had already been established by the fact that
electrons exhibited the excitation characteristics typical of particles on absorption of energy, i.e.,
much as molecules of a solid or a liquid or a gas behave more excitedly on receiving energy (which is
the crux of thermal expansion), so too, electrons are also found to be excited along similar patterns
[of course, the presence of the nucleus behind the electron as a charged body=source of
potential=field generator makes all the difference, giving a greater degree of order or restraint to
electronic excitation; an excited electron is still an electron, a negatively charged particle, bound to be
fatally attracted to the nucleus]
Now however, electrons were found to exhibit the particulate characteristics typical of
the results of the photoelectric experiment, and the wave characteristics of Comptons scattering
experiment. Further, known characteristics of waves such as interference, diffraction and polarization,
were found to be innate properties of a beam of electrons. These results and more led Louis de
Broglie to conclude that if energy could have particulate characteristics, then particles might have
wave nature as well. He postulated the existence of what we now know as de Broglie matter waves.
Equation 1. The de Broglie formulae
Obviously the wavelengths associated with large bodies that are not electron-like in any way, would
be expected to be rather small, often to the point of being negligible. On the contrary, the wavelength
associated with an electron accelerated through a potential of 100 V would be approximately 1.227 ,
which for an electron, is not a negligible wavelength at all. Therefore we now expect electrons to
behave as both waves and particles. In accordance with this duality, there has come to represent the
electron, a set of functions called wave functions that describe, using various functions and operators,
the properties and behavior of the electron wave. These are what we refer to as wave functions. An
excellent example of a wave function is (x,t). We will encounter this particular wave function almost
everywhere, and especially with the Schrdinger Equation.
[The story of hybridization resumes at this point]
When four unhybridized atomic orbitals are added together and thoroughly mixed, four hybrid atomic
orbitals are formed. For the carbon atom in the excited state, we have, in the unhybridized state, a
half-filled 2s orbital and three half-filled 2p orbitals. Obviously, by virtue of differences in energy,
extent of overlap and thus bonding efficiency, these unhybridized orbitals cannot bond with the singly
occupied 1s orbitals of each of the four H atoms that expectantly await carbons decision to bond.
Therefore, a hybridization event is inevitable. And so it occurs. An imaginary energy crucible appears,
and we perform the thought experiment of taking the 2s orbital and the three 2p orbitals of carbon and
grinding them into an indiscernible, homogeneous mixture, which we then separate into four identical,
degenerate, hybrid atomic orbitals. Each of these hybrid orbitals has one part s character and three
parts p character(since one s orbital, and three p orbitals have gone into making them) and is
therefore, called a sp3 hybrid atomic orbital.

Thus we have our molecule of methane CH4, with four CH single bonds ( bonds, because they
have cylindrical symmetry*) that are equal in length, energy and spatial distribution. [As a matter of
fact, the methane molecule is perfectly tetrahedral, to the point where it is used as a model for
tetrahedral symmetry (later, much later, when we come across adamantine derivatives, we shall see
what this means).]

In the hybridization process, all bond lengths become equal. The equality of all the HCH bond
angles can be explained by the physical understanding that the bonds in question are basically pairs
of electrons; electrons being like-charged (negatively, to the amount of Q e = 1.6025 x 10-19 C), will
In case of ethene, each carbon atom is faced with
repel each other; repulsion increases the potential energy of the system* and in an attempt to
three substituentsH, H and C. In this case, the
minimize the energy of the system(the molecule), the electron-pairs(the bonds) will assume the
atomic orbitals that undergo linear combination
greatest degree of separation possible in the three dimensional space surrounding the carbon atom.
are one s and two p orbitals. This combination
A simple calculation of solid angles reveals that this angular separation is greatest at the tetrahedral2
leads to the generation of three equivalent sp
angle, 109 28. This postulate of electron-pair repulsion forms the cornerstone of the valenceshell
hybrid orbitals. The third p orbital remains an
electronpair repulsion theory (VSEPR theory*). According to this theory, electron pairs repel each
unhybridized atomic orbital. The p-orbital
other; therefore, the electron pairs that are in bonds or in lone pairs in orbitals around an atom
remains perpendicular to the three sp2 hybrid
generally separate from each other as much as possible. Thus, for methane, with four CH single
orbitals, because, in the process of hybridization,
a plane has been selected. The third p orbital is
perpendicular to this plane.
bonds around a single carbon atom, the maximum angle to which the bonds can separate, to
minimize bond pair-bond pair repulsion is the tetrahedral angle, which is 10928, or approximately
110.
In a similar fashion, the atomic orbitals of carbon can hybridize to form sp2 hybrid orbitals.
Q: How so?
A: Ethene (earlier known as ethylene) has a molecular formula C 2H4. It has a single degree of
unsaturation [expressed in terms of IHD{Index of Hydrogen Deficiency} or DBE{Double Bond
Equivalent}; they indicate the same result, i.e. the number of double bonds in a molecule, though
they are evaluated using different methods.*]
Let us recall the electronic configuration for carbon in its excited state.

Electronic configuration plays an enormously important role in


hybridization decisions taken by the carbon atom, and indeed
by all atoms. And this in turn, depends on the energy of the
system.

Cf. 1 ESEC for the carbon atom ; GSEC=1s 2


2s2 2p2

Let us look more closely at ethene:

Each carbon atom has three substituents seeking to bond with it. It
therefore needs three hybrid degenerate atomic orbitals to bond with
these three substituents. It gets what it needs by taking its 2s orbital
and any two of the three 2p orbitals, and mixing them together,
thoroughly (hybridizing them into three degenerate sp 2 hybrid orbitals).

[Note: I say any two of the three 2p orbitals because, energetically


speaking, they are identical, and so it doesnt make a difference to bond
strength or degree of overlap. Further, note that since we have used
one s orbital and two p orbitals, the hybrid is a sp 2 hybrid. Again, we
have taken any two p orbitals out of three, 2p x, 2py, and 2pz. Therefore
we have essentially taken either the xy plane or the yz plane or the xz plane. {If we take 2px and 2py,
then we are looking at the xy plane on which both these orbitals are. Similar arguments hold for the
other two orbital combinations (2py and 2pz) and (2px and 2pz)}. The essential point is that whatever
our choice, the third p orbital is perpendicular to the plane that we have just chosen: if we choose the
xy plane, then the third p orbital, 2pz, is perpendicular to the xy plane.]

Post-hybridization electronic
configuration of carbon: 1s2
2sp2(3) 2p1 1s2 2sp22sp22sp2 2p1

Therefore we see three bonds formed: two CH bonds formed by the overlap of two of the three
sp2 orbitals from carbon with the two 1s orbitals from the two hydrogen atoms. The third sigma bond,
formed by head-on overlap of the third sp 2 orbital from both the carbon atoms, represents a sp 2-sp2
overlap.
These unbounded p-orbitals then
interact laterally (side-by-side) to form a
bond that is weaker than the sigma
bond and has a different kind of
symmetry, the symmetry; hence
these bonds are also called bonds.

Because the three hybrid orbitals lie in


one plane, the VSEPR theory predicts
that the orbitals are separated by 120
angles. The unhybridized atomic p
orbital lies at a 90 angle to the plane.
This configuration allows for the
maximum separation of all orbitals.

Assignment 1: Perform the above process


for ethyne/acetylene: HCCH.
Show how the
hybridization of the carbon atom comes
to be sp hybridized.

Last, the atomic orbitals of carbon can hybridize by the linear


combination of one s and one p orbital. This process forms two
equivalent sp hybrid orbitals. The remaining two atomic p
orbitals remain unhybridized. Because the two sp hybrid orbitals
are in a plane, they must be separated by 180. The atomic p
orbitals exist at right angles to each other, one in the plane of
the hybridized orbitals and the other at a right angle to the plane
The type of hybrid orbital in any given carbon compound can be
easily predicted with the hybrid orbital number rule.

A hybrid orbital number of 2


indicates sp hybridization, a value
of 3 indicates sp 2 hybridization,
and a value of 4
indicates sp 3hybridization. For
example, in ethene (C 2H 4), the
hybrid orbital number for the carbon atoms is 3, indicating sp 2 hybridization.

All the carbonhydrogen bonds are , while one bond in the double bond is and the other is .

Similarly, for ammonia, :NH3, the


hybrid orbital number is 4,
indicating sp3 hybridization. This is
because there are three NH bonds, and one unshared electron pair (lone pair) on the nitrogen
atom.

For water, HH , there are two OH bonds and two lone pairs on oxygen. The hybrid orbital
number is therefore 2+2=4, indicating sp3 hybridization.

For acetylene, HCCH, there are two bonds: one CH bond and one CC bond. There
are two bonds and no unshared electron pairs. Therefore, the hybrid orbital number is
2+0=2, which corresponds to sp hybridization.

A Telegraph article by Ruchir Joshi. May 17, 2015 : Cloud covered stars - Bengalis remember their
artists only selectively
There is an old house near Lansdowne Market that I often pass. On some days I don't think
about this house, I avoid looking at it. On other days I do look at it and then I'm filled with a
certain anger and despair. The man who lived in the house died over a decade ago and the place
has become increasingly dilapidated since then; but this is a common story in this city and hardly
a reason for any dramatic feelings. The reason I feel the spike of fury is because the
disintegration of the house reminds me of the shockingly quick fraying of the great, innovative
work its occupant produced and also of the principles by which he did his work. Life constantly
deals us funny cards and sometimes the strangest ones are dealt to us after we are gone. There is
a long list of writers or artists who rule with such pomp during their lives only to have their value
shredded by a later time wearing very different critic's spectacles. On the other hand, there is the
example of someone like Vincent Van Gogh, a man who struggled at so many levels thoughout his
life and who could not have possibly imagined the 'brand' he would become, or the obscene
amounts his canvasses would one day fetch. Then there are artists who, without any hubris, know
that their place in history is assured, that their work will be recognized and savoured by
generations to come. Then there are ones who would desperately like this to happen but just
know that it won't. And then again there are the ones who genuinely don't care, who don't give a
damn what happens to their work or their name after their passing. In Calcutta's short history we
have examples of all of the above, plus some other types.
In the field of cinema, if you'd asked someone, anyone, during the 1980s, whose work
would most likely survive deep into the future, the simple answer would have been 'Satyajit Ray'.
If you'd asked the opposite question, as to whose work would shortly be scattered into the winds
of obscurity, there would have been quite a few contenders, but the leading one would have been
Ritwik Ghatak. That Ray's was one of the most major contributions to serious Bengali and Indian
cinema was never in doubt. That Ghatak's films, far fewer in number, (but also great) didn't
deserve to mix into dust was also not being debated. From anyone halfway in touch with the
reality of Calcutta's art cinema, the answers would have been coloured by their knowledge of the
two personalities. SR was thorough to the point of OCD mania and there was no doubt he would
leave everything related to his great creative output in meticulously good order. RG, by then
already dead, had been the opposite: immersed in a sea of alcohol, chaotic, mercurial, a brawler
at so many different levels, with the most spectacular graph of self-damage and, consequently, a
world champion of self-abnegation, especially in terms of fripperies like posterity.
There were many of us film-makers who loved Ghatak's work, who often found it a
stronger source of inspiration than Ray's films, but, just as we'd had to accept Ghatak's early
death, we were also resigned to the early demise of his original negatives, to the likelihood of the
four or five great RG films soon becoming a badly scratched chimerical memory. Imagine our
relief, then, when we heard that Ghatak's main work had been carefully restored in a lab in what
was then still East Berlin. Imagine our joy, at the fag-end of the 1980s, when we saw clean new
prints of Subarnarekha or Titash. When Manikbabu (Ray) died in 1992, not as early as RG, but
too early nevertheless, those of us not in his inner circle had no inkling that the preservation of
the SR films was in any kind of jeopardy. We assumed it had all been taken care of, and, should 1
or 2 of the 10 or 12 most important ones need some repair work there was bound to be a scrum of
Western institutions vying to fund the restoration. A year or so later, I was in London, finishing one
of my films in a lab in Soho, when I heard about the fire in another film lab nearby. Shortly
afterwards, we heard that a large part of the Apu trilogy negatives were burnt in that fire - they
had been transiting through London, on their way to being restored in California. It was the kind of
tragic news you put away at the very back of your mind so you can pretend you haven't heard it.

In the mid-1950s, two young Calcutta men, closely helped by a few other people,
invented a small new universe. The taller of the two men was a bit older and the leader of this
project (or expedition into the unknown) but the second man was a founding partner, eventually an
almost-equal colleague. The project was, of course, Pather Panchali, and Ray apparently first
asked someone slightly senior to him, Sunil Janah, to do the cinematography for the film, in which
the other novice partner, one Subrata Mitra, would assist. Janah was unwilling to come down from
his higher, far more respectable, calling of photographer to become a mere 'cameraman' for the
novice Manik. There was no choice but for Subrata Mitra to take on the job. Mitra was completely
untrained in cinematography; he was 21 when work began on Pather Panchali, and around 25
when it was finished. Imagine, if you will, two maddeningly obsessive perfectionists, hugely and
relentlessly energetic, driving everyone around them crazy. Imagine, if you can, the lack of
experience, the paucity of resources, the long gaps between the filming schedules, the scraping
together of bits of money, keeping the amateur cast together, the huge battle of the post-
production, all managed under the sneering of the great Bangali yodhhas of Tollygunge and
Bombay. With the second film, Aparajito, imagine the now fully confident Mitra, still working with
limited resources, replicating the ricochet of light in Indian interiors by the simple, brilliant, dint of
hanging white bedsheets outside the windows to 'bounce' and corral sunlight. The aesthetics of
the immediately previous generations are all visible in the trilogy, both in Ray's storyboards and
Mitra's actual shots, the Tagores and the whole Shantiniketan posse of Nandalal, Benode Behari
and Co., Janah's 1940s socialist black and white documentary ethic, the rawness of the Italian
neo-realists, and yet, a radically new, modern Indian visual language is being born.
By 1967 it's over, one of the greatest
creative partnerships of world cinema. Ray is 46 and Mitra is only 37 when they part company,
sadly to the detriment of both. Before becoming a tetchy semi-recluse, Mitra would shoot a few
films for other directors, but nothing that comes close to what he achieves with Ray. The great SR
would make many more films, operating the camera himself a lot, but never again would he get
that image quality, that incredible alchemy of story, character and cinematography, that he did
with Mitra.
The recent news, of the Apu trilogy being refurbished using a variety of original
source material and the latest digital technology, and the huge effort that included the frame by
frame recuperation of bits of the negatives burnt in London, is a story that actually brings tears to
the eyes. The trailers on the net look simply fantastic, unbelievable. The full richness of the black
and white photography is there to be compared to the earlier iterations of the old prints. It almost
feels like those of us born after a certain threshold year have never actually seen the films
properly, but always some kagemusha of them, some look-alike impostors of the originals.
Suddenly, the stories of Subrata Mitra's volcanic frustration about duplicate prints and dim
projection lamps all come into sharp focus. "None of you have actually seen what we really
made!" is one quote from Subratababu repeated by many who interacted with him in his last
years. The picture that emerged was of an altogether too finicky, too khitkhitey-buro- bangali
complaining, protesting too much. Now one desperately wants to locate the man in the
labyrinthine laboratory in the sky and tender an apology.
The thing is, there is no end in sight to the apologizing we need to do. It's one thing that the
sparkling trailers for the restored trilogy project only the names of Ray and Ravi Shankar; it's a
scandal, but unsurprising, that in all the write ups and interviews about this amazing restoration
there is not one single mention of Subrata Mitra (unsurprising because that is how the Western
creative establishments treat the brownies, imagine Gordon Willis, Sven Nykvist or Raoul Coutard
having their name excised from any discussion of their main, great work); it's outrageous, yes, and
yet par for the course, sure, but the question we must ask ourselves is a different one.
The thing is, we in Bengal need both Ray and Ghatak to survive, and Tapan
Sinha and Mrinal Sen, and one-film phenomena like Barin Saha. And whether the Western
cinematheques recognize them or not, we also need to remember and honour the amazing so-
called 'technicians', the master-artists who, with the directors, formed the teams that created our
great cinema, the Mitras, the Dilip Mukherjees, the Baby Islams, the K.K. Mahajans, the Bansi
Chandraguptas, the Dulal Duttas. Every time I look at Subrata Mitra's crumbling house on
Lansdowne Road I'm reminded that this city, with all its peacocking intellectual self-regard, has
managed just to name the SRFTI and the small road where he lived after Satyajit Ray and nothing
more. For all the Loknayak Metro stations and Uttam Nagars we haven't named even a photo-booth
after Subrata Mitra, we haven't commemorated Ritwik Ghatak with even a chullu kiosk or a bangla
liquor shop.