(g) Covalent bonding

1:44 know that a covalent bond is formed between atoms by the sharing of a pair of electrons

A covalent bond is formed between two non-metal atoms by sharing a pair of electrons in order to fill the outer shell.

1:46 understand how to use dot-and-cross diagrams to represent covalent bonds in: diatomic molecules, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, halogens and hydrogen halides, inorganic molecules including water, ammonia and carbon dioxide, organic molecules containing up to two carbon atoms, including methane, ethane, ethene and those containing halogen atoms

1:47 explain why substances with a simple molecular structures are gases or liquids, or solids with low melting and boiling points. The term intermolecular forces of attraction can be used to represent all forces between molecules


Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a simple molecular structure. This just means that it is made up of molecules.

Within each molecule are atoms bonded to each other covalently. These covalent bonds inside the molecules are strong.

However, between the molecules are weak forces of attraction that require little energy to break. These forces are not covalent bonds. This is why simple molecular substances such as carbon dioxide have a low boiling point.

So when carbon dioxide changes from a solid to a gas, for example, that process can be represented as:

CO₂ (s) → CO₂ (g)

Notice that even though there has been a dramatic change of state from solid to gas, the substance before and after the change is always made up of carbon dioxide molecules. During the change of the state the covalent bonds within each molecule remain unbroken. Instead it is the weak forces of attraction between the molecules which have been overcome.


1:48 explain why the melting and boiling points of substances with simple molecular structures increase, in general, with increasing relative molecular mass

Larger molecules tend to have higher boiling points.

This is because larger molecules (molecules with more mass) have more forces of attraction between them. These forces, although weak, must be overcome if the substance is to boil, and larger molecules have more attractions which must be overcome.

1:49 explain why substances with giant covalent structures are solids with high melting and boiling points

Diamond has a high melting point because it is a giant covalent structure with many strong covalent bonds that require a lot of energy to break.

1:50 explain how the structures of diamond, graphite and C60 fullerene influence their physical properties, including electrical conductivity and hardness

Allotropes are different forms of the same element. Three different allotropes of carbon are shown here as examples: diamond, graphite and C60 fullerene.


Diamond is made up of only carbon atoms, in a giant 3D lattice, where each of those atoms has a strong covalent bonds to 4 other carbon. Every one of carbon’s 4 outer electrons is involved in one of these strong covalent bonds.

Diamond is extremely hard because it is a giant covalent structure with many strong covalent bonds.

Because it is hard, diamond is used in high speed cutting tools, eg diamond-tipped saws.



Graphite is also made of only carbon atoms, and is also a giant structure, but it is formed of layers where each carbon atom has a strong covalent bond to 3 other carbons. This means each carbon atom has one electron not involved in a covalent bond, and these electrons form a sea of delocalised electrons between the layers.

Even though it is a non-metal, graphite can conduct electricity because the delocalised electrons are free to move.

Each layer is a giant structure, with weak forces of attraction between the layers. These layers can easily slide over each other.

Graphite is soft and slippery because it has weak forces of attraction between layers. It is used as a lubricant and in pencils because it is soft and slippery.




C60 fullerene which is a simple molecular structure (also known as a buckyball) is also made of only carbon atoms, but it forms molecules of 60 carbon atoms. The molecule has weak intermolecular forces of attraction between them which take little energy to overcome. Hence C60 fullerene has a low melting point, and it is soft.

C60 fullerene cannot conduct electricity. Although in each molecule every carbon is only covalently bonded to 3 others and the other electrons are delocalised, these electrons cannot jump between different molecules.



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Section 1: Principles of chemistry

      a) States of matter

      b) Atoms

      c) Atomic structure

     d) Relative formula masses and molar volumes of gases

     e) Chemical formulae and chemical equations

     f) Ionic compounds

     g) Covalent substances

     h) Metallic crystals

     i) Electrolysis

 Section 2: Chemistry of the elements

     a) The Periodic Table

     b) Group 1 elements: lithium, sodium and potassium

     c) Group 7 elements: chlorine, bromine and iodine

     d) Oxygen and oxides

     e) Hydrogen and water

     f) Reactivity series

     g) Tests for ions and gases

Section 3: Organic chemistry

     a) Introduction

     b) Alkanes

     c) Alkenes

     d) Ethanol

Section 4: Physical chemistry

     a) Acids, alkalis and salts

     b) Energetics

     c) Rates of reaction

     d) Equilibria

Section 5: Chemistry in industry

     a) Extraction and uses of metals

     b) Crude oil

     c) Synthetic polymers

     d) The industrial manufacture of chemicals

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