What is bond order?, Chemistry

Bond order is the number of chemical bonds between a pair of atoms. For example, in diatomic nitrogen N≡N the bond order is 3, while in acetylene H-C≡C-H the bond order between the two carbon atoms is also 3, and the C-H bond order is 1. Bond order gives an indication to the stability of a bond.

In molecules that have resonance or nonclassical bonding, bond order does not need to be an integer. In benzene, where the delocalized molecular orbitals contain 6 pi electrons over six carbons essentially yielding half a pi bond together with the sigma bond for each pair of carbon atoms, giving a calculated bond order of 1.5. Furthermore, bond orders of 1.1, for example, can arise under complex scenarios and essentially refer to bond strength relative to bonds with order 1.

In molecular orbital theory, bond order is also defined as the difference, divided by two, between the number of bonding electrons and the number of antibonding electrons as per the equation below. This often but not always yields the same result. Bond order is also an index of bond strength and is also used extensively in valence bond theory.

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