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Inorg Chem. 2002 Apr 22;41(8):2164-72.

Chemical bonding in hypervalent molecules: is the octet rule relevant?

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Laboratoire de Chimie Théorique(UMR-CNRS 7616) Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.


The bonding in a large number of hypervalent molecules of P, As, S, Se, Te, Cl, and Br with the ligands F, Cl, O, CH(3), and CH(2) has been studied using the topological analysis of the electron localization function ELF. This function partitions the electron density of a molecule into core and valence basins and further classifies valence basins according to the number of core basins with which they have a contact. The number and geometry of these basins is generally in accord with the VSEPR model. The population of each basin can be obtained by integration, and so, the total population of the valence shell of an atom can be obtained as the sum of the populations of all the valence basins which share a boundary with its core basin. It was found that the population of the V(A, X) disynaptic basin corresponding to the bond, where A is the central atom and X the ligand, varies with the electronegativity of the ligand from approximately 2.0 for a weakly electronegative ligand such as CH(3) to less than 1.0 for a ligand such as F. We find that the total population of the valence shell of a hypervalent atom may vary from close to 10 for a period 15 element and close to 12 for a group 16 element to considerably less than 8 for an electronegative ligand such as F. For example, the phosphorus atom in PF(5) has a population of 5.37 electrons in its valence shell, whereas the arsenic atom in AsMe5 has a population of 9.68 electrons in its valence shell. By definition, hypervalent atoms do not obey the Lewis octet rule. They may or may not obey a modified octet rule that has taken the place of the Lewis octet rule in many recent discussions and according to which an atom in a molecule always has fewer than 8 electrons in its valence shell. We show that the bonds in hypervalent molecules are very similar to those in corresponding nonhypervalent (Lewis octet) molecules. They are all polar bonds ranging from weakly to strongly polar depending on the electronegativity of the ligands. The term hypervalent therefore has little significance except to indicate that an atom in a molecule is forming more than four electron pair bonds.


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