An ionic bond is a type of chemical bond that involves a metal and a nonmetal ion (or polyatomic ions such as ammonium) through electrostatic attraction. In short, it is a bond formed by the attraction between two oppositely charged ions.
The metal donates one or more electrons, forming a positively charged ion or cation with a stable electron configuration. These electrons then enter the non metal, causing it to form a negatively charged ion or anion which also has a stable electron configuration. The electrostatic attraction between the oppositely charged ions causes them to come together and form a bond.
For example, common table salt is sodium chloride. When sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) are combined, the sodium atoms each lose an electron, forming cations (Na+), and the chlorine atoms each gain an electron to form anions (Cl−). These ions are then attracted to each other in a 1:1 ratio to form sodium chloride (NaCl).
The removal of electrons from the atoms is endothermic and causes the ions to have a higher energy. There may also be energy changes associated with breaking of existing bonds or the addition of more than one electron to form anions. However, the attraction of the ions to each other lowers their energy.
Ionic bonding will occur only if the overall energy change for the reaction is favourable – when the bonded atoms have a lower energy than the free ones. The larger the resulting energy change the stronger the bond. The low electronegativity of metals and high electronegativity of non-metals means that the energy change of the reaction is most favorable when metals lose electrons and non-metals gain electrons.
Pure ionic bonding is not known to exist. All ionic compounds have a degree of covalent bonding. The larger the difference in electronegativity between two atoms, the more ionic the bond. Ionic compounds conduct electricity when molten or in solution. They generally have a high melting point and tend to be soluble in water.
Ionic compounds in the solid state form lattice structures. The two principal factors in determining the form of the lattice are the relative charges of the ions and their relative sizes. Some structures are adopted by a number of compounds; for example, the structure of the rock salt sodium chloride is also adopted by many alkali halides, and binary oxides such as MgO.
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