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1 Vollhardt, P.
Organic Chemistry: Structure and Function
. 5th ed. New York: 2007. 23- 35
Developed by Linus Pauling, the concept of hybrid orbitals was a theory
created to explain the structures of molecules in space. The theory consists of
combining atomic orbitals (ex: s,p,d,f) into new hybrid orbitals (ex: sp, sp2, sp3).
1. Atomic orbital: an expected region of electron density around an atom based
on a solution to the Schrödinger wave function. 1
Example: The valence electrons of
Be will most probably be
found in the shaded areas.
2. Hybridization: the combining of solutions to the Schrodinger wave function
for atomic orbitals to produce hybrid orbitals. Note: the total number of
orbitals available for forming bonds does not change—a new set is simply
3. Hybrid orbital: an orbital created by the combination of atomic orbitals in
the same atom. 1
Example: + =
4. Linear sp hybrids: the two hybrid orbitals formed by the mixture of one s
and one p orbital. 1
5. Trigonal sp2 hybrids: the three hybrid orbitals formed by the mixture of one
s and two p orbitals. 1
6. Tetrahedral sp3 hybrids: the four hybrid orbitals formed by the mixture of
one s and three p orbitals. 1
DETERMINING HYBRIDIZATION OF ATOMS:
• To determine the hybridization of an atom, count the regions of electron
density (bonds and lone pairs) around the atom and match this number with
the corresponding hybridization. (Note: this technique does not take into
account the changed hybridization that occurs when a molecule is