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HYBRIDIZATION OF CARBON The element, carbon, is one of the most versatile elements on the periodic table in terms of the number of compounds it may form. It may form virtually an infinite number of compounds. This is largely due to the types of bonds it can form and the number of different elements it can join in bonding. Carbon may form single, double and triple bonds. The hybridization of carbon involved in each of these bonds will be investigated in this handout. Bonding in any element will take place with only the valence shell electrons. The valence shell electrons are found in the incomplete, outermost shell. By looking at the electron configuration, one is able to identify these valence electrons. Let's look at the electron configuration of ground state (lowest energy state) carbon: From the ground state electron configuration, one can see that carbon has four valence electrons, two in the 2s subshell and two in the 2p subshell. The 1s electrons are considered to be core electrons and are not available for bonding. There are two unpaired electrons in the 2p subshell, so if carbon were to hybridize from this ground state, it would be able to form at most two bonds. Recall that energy is released when bonds form, so it would be to carbon's benefit to try to maximize the number of bonds it can form. For this reason, carbon will form an excited state by promoting one of its 2s
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