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Valence Bond Theory

Valence bond theory is a fundamental concept in chemistry that describes the chemical bonding between atoms. It focuses on the overlapping of atomic orbitals to explain the formation of covalent bonds.

By considering the valence shell electrons, this theory provides insights into how electron bonds are formed and the resulting properties of these chemical bonds. Valence bond theory helps us understand various aspects of bonding, such as bond energies, bond angles, and resonance phenomena.

It is a valuable tool for predicting and explaining the behavior of single bonds, double bonds, and multiple bonds in molecules.

History of Valence Bond Theory

Valence Bond Theory, which originated in the 1920s by Linus Pauling, built upon Lewis’s concept of electron pairs. It was further developed through quantum mechanics.

Originated in the 1920s by Linus Pauling

In the 1900s, chemists wanted to know how atoms make molecules. Linus Pauling, an American chemist, helped with this by creating Valence Bond Theory. He said that chemical bonds happen when atomic orbitals overlap and share electrons.

Built upon Lewis’s concept of electron pairs

Pauling built upon Lewis’s theory of electron pairs. Lewis believed that atoms bond by sharing or transferring electrons in order to have a stable electron arrangement.

Pauling went a step further and added that these shared electrons are found in specific areas called orbitals around the atom’s nucleus.

Developed further through quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanics helped improve the Valence Bond Theory. It explains how tiny particles behave and how they bond together. Scientists used quantum mechanics to understand chemical bonding better and explain things that classical theories couldn’t..

Valence Bond Theory helps us understand chemical bonding. It explains things like how bonds form, how strong they are, and what shapes molecules have. It tells us how atoms interact when they react chemically.

Organic chemists have learned more about complex molecules and reactions by using experimental data and the Valence Bond Theory.

Advantages of Valence Bond Theory

Valence Bond Theory offers several advantages that contribute to our understanding of chemical bonding and the properties of molecules.

Qualitative Understanding of Chemical Bonding

Valence Bond Theory helps us understand how atoms bond to form molecules. It explains why elements bond and why some bonds are stronger. This theory shows us how electrons are shared between atoms in a covalent bond by considering the overlap of atomic orbitals.

Bond Angles and Hybridization Phenomena

Valence Bond Theory is helpful because it explains bond angles and hybridization. It talks about hybrid orbitals, which come from mixing atomic orbitals.

These hybridized orbitals help us understand different molecular shapes like tetrahedral, trigonal planar, and linear. This helps us predict how atoms are arranged in a molecule.

Prediction of Magnetic Properties

Valence Bond Theory helps us predict magnetic properties in molecules. By looking at how electron spins align or misalign in overlapping orbitals, we can tell if a molecule is diamagnetic (no unpaired electrons) or paramagnetic (one or more unpaired electrons).

This knowledge is useful in fields like materials science and pharmaceutical research.

Common Questions about VBT

How does it differ from other theories?

VBT is a chemistry model that explains how atoms form chemical bonds. It focuses on the interaction between atomic orbitals when two atoms bond together. The theory suggests that their orbitals overlap, causing electrons to be shared or transferred.

Can it explain all types of chemical bonds?

Valence Bond Theory explains different types of chemical bonds like covalent and ionic bonds. In covalent bonds, atoms share electron pairs by overlapping their orbitals. In ionic bonds, electrons are transferred from one atom to another for stability.

Is it still relevant in modern chemistry?

Valence Bond Theory is an old but important theory in chemistry. Even though there are newer theories, it still help chemists understand how atoms bond together. It can predict the shape and properties of molecules by looking at how atomic orbitals overlap and combine.

Differences between VBT and MOT

 VBT and  MOT are two approaches used to explain the bonding in molecules. While both theories aim to describe the electronic structure of molecules, they differ in their focus and methodology.

VBT focuses on localized electron pairs, MOT on delocalized electrons

VBT focuses on how bonds form in a molecule. It looks at how atomic orbitals overlap to create bond orbitals. These bond orbitals have electron pairs that are concentrated between certain atoms.

Molecular Orbital Theory looks at the whole molecule’s electronic structure. It explains how molecular orbitals are formed by combining atomic orbitals from different atoms and spread out over the whole molecule.

In this theory, electrons are spread out in these molecular orbitals instead of being stuck in specific bond areas.

VBT explains bonds, MOT explains molecule’s structure.

VBT provides a detailed description of each individual bond within a molecule. It explains how atomic orbitals overlap and interact to form covalent bonds. VBT can account for different types of bonds such as sigma (σ) and pi (π) bonds.

In contrast, Molecular Orbital Theory offers an explanation for the overall electronic structure of a molecule as a whole. It considers all the molecular orbitals present in a molecule and their respective energies. MOT allows us to understand phenomena like bond order, bond strength, and magnetic properties at a molecular level.

VBT uses atomic orbitals, MOT uses molecular orbitals

Valence Bond Theory utilizes atomic orbitals as building blocks for creating localized bond orbitals between specific atoms in a molecule. These atomic orbitals can undergo hybridization to form new hybrid orbitals with different shapes and orientations.

Molecular Orbital Theory, on the other hand, employs molecular orbitals that are formed by the combination of atomic orbitals from different atoms. These molecular orbitals extend over the entire molecule and can be bonding, antibonding, or nonbonding in nature.

Comparison with VSEPR Theory and Computational Approaches

Valence Bond Theory (VBT) and VSEPR Theory are two models used to explain the shapes of molecules. While VBT focuses on explaining bond angles based on hybridization, VSEPR predicts these angles geometrically.

Difference in Describing Shapes of Bonds

VBT shows how atoms’ orbitals overlap and make different hybrids. For instance, when one s orbital and three p orbitals combine, they form four sp3 hybrids in a tetrahedral shape.

On the other hand, VSEPR theory simplifies molecular shapes by assuming that electron pairs repel each other and try to maximize their distance from each other. This theory predicts the arrangement of electron pairs around a central atom, which in turn determines the molecular shape.

Computational approaches

Computational approaches, such as Molecular Orbital Theory (MO), use mathematical methods to calculate molecular properties. These methods involve solving complex equations using computers to determine molecular energy levels and electron distributions.

While computational approaches provide accurate predictions for many molecules, they can be computationally expensive for larger systems or complex reactions.

In contrast, VBT offers a more intuitive understanding of bonding by visualizing overlapping orbitals and providing insight into bond strength and reactivity.

To achieve accurate predictions, researchers often combine both VBT and computational approaches. They use computational methods to calculate energy levels and electronic properties while using VBT to interpret bonding patterns based on hybridization schemes.


We learned about its history and how it developed, and why it’s better than other theories. We also talked about how Valence Bond Theory is different from Molecular Orbital Theory, and how it connects to VSEPR Theory and Computational Approaches.


What are the main assumptions of VBT?

Valence Bond Theory assumes that covalent bonds are formed by overlapping atomic orbitals of participating atoms. It also assumes that electrons in these orbitals have opposite spins and occupy regions of space around the nuclei.

How does the Valence Bond Theory explain bond strength?

According to Valence Bond Theory, bond strength is determined by the extent of orbital overlap between bonding atoms. The greater the overlap, the stronger the bond.

Can VBT explain molecular geometry?

Yes, it can. The spatial arrangement of atoms in molecules can be explained using hybridization theory within the framework of Valence Bond Theory.

Does Valence Bond Theory consider electron-electron repulsion?

Yes, it takes into account electron-electron repulsion when predicting molecular properties such as bond angles and molecular shapes.

Is there experimental evidence supporting Valence Bond Theory?

Yes, many experimental observations support the predictions made by VBT regarding chemical bonding and molecular properties.

These FAQs provide answers to common questions about VBT that can help clarify any doubts or misconceptions. By addressing these queries head-on, we aim to enhance your understanding and facilitate informed decision-making in your studies or research.