Atomic Bonds – Types, Explanations and Effects

Forces between the atoms of materials and substances are very important. Because, if you want to understand the general types of atomic bonds, it is very important to understand the repulsive and attractive forces between atoms. These are the interatomic forces. Also, the net force of the atomic bonds depends on the total force of the repulsive and attractive forces. Here, we explain all types of bonds that occur between atoms and molecules, and their effects of them. Furthermore, you can find this information about atomic bonds here,

  • What is the atomic bond? What is the bonding energy?
  • Primary atomic bonds,
  • Secondary bonds,
  • FAQs

What are the Atomic Bonds?

Also like attractive and repulsive forces, it is very important to understand the bonding energy. Bonding energy between atoms and molecules is the definitive parameter of most chemical reactions. So, the bonding energy of different types of interatomic bonds will change according to the type of bonding.

The total bonding energy is equal to the summation of attractive energy and impulsive energies between the atoms. And in chemical reactions, the attractive bonding energies are much higher than the impulsive energies.

In general, we examine the atomic bonds in two different classes; primary bonds and secondary bonds. In primary bonds, chemical reactions generally occur. And also in the secondary bonds, only the physical interactions take place. Also, we can summarize the general atomic bonds like this;

  • Primary Bonds or Chemical Bonds
    • Ionic Bonds
    • Covalent Bonds
    • Metallic Bonds
  • Secondary Bonds or van der Waals Bonds
    • Hydrogen Bonding
    • Fluctuating Induced Dipole Bondings
    • Polar Molecule Induced Dipole Bonds
    • Permanent Dipole Bonds

Also, you will see that there is a very big difference in the bonding energies between the primary and secondary bonds. Because one class is chemical bonds and the other class is physical bonds.

Primary Bonds or Chemical Bonds Between Atoms

In this type of atomic bond, chemical reactions take place. Also, you know from the general chemistry classes, that chemical reactions and chemical bonds take place because of the intention of the atoms to be in a stable situation.

This chemical stability depends on the valence electrons of the atoms. You know that the valence electrons are the electrons at the last layers of atoms. Atoms combine these last layers of electrons with other atoms to obtain stable and common electron layers. This is the general principle of the chemical reactions and chemical bonds of atoms.

Metallic Bonding

Metallic bonds.
Image Source: Wikipedia.

This is the third type of chemical bonding. As you understand from its name, metallic bonding is the chemical bonding type of metals and alloys. The general working principle of these atomic bonds, all the valence electrons are shared between the metal atoms. And these valence electrons can freely roam throughout the metal composition.

So, there is an electron sea or electron cloud around the metal atoms. Valence electrons of metals create this electron sea. This electron sea is negatively charged. And this cloud is around the positively metal atoms. So, there is a strict attractive force between the positive core and the negative electron sea.

This structure of the metallic bonding or chemical bonding type gives the general important chemical and mechanical characteristics of metals.

Metals are very good thermal and electrical conductors. This nature is because of the electron sea phenomenon. Negatively charged electron sea provides a very good electron transmission on it.

Also, metals are very ductile. This ductility comes from the property of the electron sea. We can think of the electron sea as a glue of metal ions. And this glue can deform easily. This type of atomic bond gives the general ductility of the metals.

Ionic Bonds

Ionic atomic bonds.
Image Source: Wikimedia.

This is a very common atomic bonding type around molecules and nature. Ionic bonds take place between the atoms and elements that make electrons exchange with each other. They become stable by one of the atoms taking electrons and one of the atoms giving electrons. So, both the atoms become ions.

For example, NaCl has an ionic bond. Cl becomes stable if it takes one electron. And also, Sodium becomes stable if it gives one electron. So, this is a very good agreement between these two atoms. They produce an ionic bond easily to become chemically stable together.

So, if we take a look at the periodic table, we can see that elements on the further right are very prone to make ionic bonds with the element on the further left side. Because the elements on the right sides have surplus atoms to become stable. And also, the elements on the left side need extra atoms to be stable. This is a very good agreement to create ionic bonds together.

Also in general, ionic bonds are the most stable and durable types of chemical bonds. The bonding energies of the ionic bonds are the highest among other chemical bonds. And the ionic elements have the highest melting points. They have a brittle nature and structure in general.

Most ceramics have ionic bonds. Also, you know that we use ceramics in thermal insulation and electrical insulation. They are electrically resistive because they are electrically stable.

Because of this chemical stability, ionic bonds are not creating any other chemical reactions with other materials and atoms. And they are not prone to ruin this stability. Because of this, they are very hard to melt.

Covalent Bonds

Covalent bonds.
Image Source:

Covalent bonds are also very common chemical bonds and atomic bonds between the different types of atoms. These bonds take place with the electron sharing between the atoms to be in a stable condition. Instead of exchanging atoms, they share their valence atoms to obtain common stable valence layers.

In nature, there are different kinds of examples of covalent bonds. For example, the Carbon atom is a very important example of making covalent bonds with other atoms. Because there are four valence electrons of Carbon. And it needs 4 electrons to be stable. Because of this, you can find that Carbon atoms make covalent bonds with lots of kinds of other elements.

Hydrogen needs only 1 electron to become stable. So, Hydrogen and Carbon elements are very good pairs to create covalent bonds effectively. You know from chemistry that CH4 is a very renowned type of covalent bond. One Carbon atom and four Hydrogen atoms are sharing electrons to obtain stable chemical bonds.

Also, you can find Hydrogen as H2 in nature. Because the Hydrogen atoms become stable only by taking 1 electron. And H2 is a very important example of a covalent bond. These two atoms are sharing valence electrons to obtain a stable valence layer of two atoms.

Covalent bonds provide an advantage to create bonds with multiple atoms. So, very complex chemical systems can be obtained with the covalent type of bonds.

For example, Covalent bonds are responsible for the long molecular chains of polymer materials. Also, they are responsible for the very complex chemical bonds to obtain creatures. We need complex chemical compounds to create nature!

Secondary Bonds or van der Waals Bonds

van der Waals.

Secondary atomic bonds are very weak if compare with chemical bonds. Because they are not responsible for the general chemical bonds between the atoms and molecules.

Also, the existence of the secondary bonds depends on the existence of primary and chemical atomic bonds. Because, if there are no chemical bonds between the atoms, we can think that it is a chaotic environment. And all the atoms are not stable. After the building of the stability, we can talk about the secondary bonds.

The dipoles are very important to obtain secondary bonding. Because they create attractive forces between the molecules. Dipoles are the electrically negative and positive regions of the molecules. The general cause of these regions is the building directions of the atoms.

Permanent Dipole Bonds – Hydrogen Bonding

This atomic bonding type is the strongest one around other secondary bondings. In these bondings, all the molecules have polar dipoles that have strong secondary attraction between them. So, the melting and the boiling temperatures are high if we compare with other types of van der Waals forces.

The most important example of permanent dipole bonds is Hydrogen bonding. If the Hydrogen atom covalently bonds with fluorine, oxygen and nitrogen, Hydrogen bonding takes place.

The cause of the Hydrogen bonding is bare protons at the Hydrogen atom side. Because only one electron is used at the common valence layer between the atoms. So, there is a very strong positive charge in these systems.

This very big positive charge causes strong secondary bonds between the molecules. For example, if we take a look at the boiling and melting temperatures of water and hydrogen fluoride, they are very high if we compare them with other kinds of secondary atomic bonds.

Fluctuating Induced Dipole Bonds

This is one of the weakest atomic bonds between the molecules. Normally, some of the molecules have symmetrical electrically negative and positive regions. And in theory, these molecules are not forming any secondary bonding. But, because of the vibrational motions, the symmetry can ruin. And temporary dipoles can occur over the molecuşes.

And these dipoles can induce other dipoles on other molecules. So, fluctuating and changing dipoles and attractive secondary dipole bonds occur between the molecules.

The most important example of these atomic bonds is H2 and Cl2 inert systems. These molecules are stable and have an electrically symmetrical structure. So, melting and boiling temperatures are very low for these molecules.

Polar Molecule and Induced Dipole Bonds

Polar molecules also have electrically unsymmetrical structures. So, they are creating bonding between themselves. For example, the HCl molecule is a polar molecule that has positive and negative regions because of the differences between H and Cl molecules.

Also, these polar molecules can induce dipoles on the other symmetrical molecules. So, there can be wek van der Waals bonds between the molecules. This is a slightly stronger secondary atomic bond if we compare it with the previous fluctuating dipole bonds. So, these types of secondary bonds have bigger melting and boiling temperatures if we compare them with fluctuating ones.


So, it is very easy to comprehend the behaviors of different molecules and substances by understanding the general molecular and atomic bonds.

Different types of atomic bonds occur between atoms and molecules. The first one of the chemical bonds which are caused by the chemical affinities of the atoms. The second type of atomic bond is the van der Waals bond. The cause of these secondary bonds is the dipoles in molecules.

You can make comments about the melting and boiling temperatures of substances by knowing their atomic bonding relations of them.

Do not forget to leave your comments and questions below about the atomic bonds and chemical bonds.

Your precious feedbacks are very important to us!

FAQs About Atomic Bonds and Chemical Bonds

Why covalent bonds are weak?

Because the general forming mechanisms of the covalent bonds are the electron sharing between the molecules. There is no strict electron exchange like ionic bonds. So, they are weaker than the ionic bonds.

Why covalent bonds are poor conductors of electricity?

Chemical reactions occur to obtain stable compositions. This stability is about the electrical stability on an atomic level. For electrical conduction, we need to have positive or negative electrical changes at atomic and molecular levels. But in covalent bondings, all the atoms and molecules are at a stable phase. So, they can not conduct electricity because there are no electrical charges on these molecules.

Which atomic bondings are strongest? 

The most strong atomic bonds are the ionic bonds on average. Because atoms form ionic bonds have a great tendency to give or take electrons to obtain stable structures. So, these atoms come together and make an electron exchange to obtain stable atomic structures. And the bondings between these atom ions are very strong.

How covalent bonds are formed?

The formation of these bonds takes place with the electron shared between the atoms. They share their valence electrons to obtain stable atomic structures. Stability is the main cause of the covalent bonds.


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