Valence Bond Theory Postulates and Limitations

Valence Bond Theory – The theory given by Lewis explained the structure of molecules but it could not explain the chemical bond formation. Similarly, VSEPR theory explained the shape of simple molecules but it had limited application and failed to explain the geometry of complex molecules. Hence to overcome these limitations, valence bond theory, commonly known as VBT theory was introduced.

Valence Bond Theory

This theory was introduced by Heitler and London which is based on concepts of atomic orbitals, electronic configuration of elements, the overlapping of atomic orbitals, hybridization of atomic orbitals. The overlapping of atomic orbitals results in the formation of a chemical bond and the electrons are localized in the bond region due to overlapping. The theory describes the electronic structure of molecules. The theory says that electrons fill the atomic orbitals of an atom within a molecule and nucleus of one atom is attracted to the electrons of another atom. The bonding between two different atoms caused by the overlap of half-filled atomic orbitals; where they share an electron which leads to the orbitals being filled up, this chemical bonding theory is called a Valence Bond Theory.

Postulates of Valence Bond Theory

The Valence Bond Theory postulates certain assumptions and facts that go on to establish certain premises and facts which lead to the conclusion and assertion of the Theory to be true.

  • The overlapping of two half-filled valence orbitals of two different atoms results in the formation of the covalent bond. Due to overlapping, the electron density between two bonded atoms increases and this gives stability to the molecule.
  • In case the atomic orbitals possess more than one unpaired electron, more than one bond can be formed and electrons paired in the valence shell cannot take part in such a bond formation.
  • A covalent bond is directional and it is parallel to the region of overlapping atomic orbitals.
  • Based on the pattern of overlapping, there are two types of covalent bonds: sigma bond and a pi bond. The covalent bond formed by sideways overlapping of atomic orbitals is known as pi bond whereas the bond formed by overlapping of atomic orbital along the inter nucleus axis is known as a sigma bond.

Limitations of Valence Bond Theory

The theories and laws that came before this also had certain limitations on them resulting in their failure. However, the theory is also not perfect and does have its shortcomings. The Limitations of Valence Bond Theory are:

  • It fails to explain the tetravalency of carbon.
  • This theory does not discuss the energies of electrons.
  • The assumptions about the electrons being localized to specific locations.

To follow more on this, CheckĀ Valence Bond Theory in Coordination Compound.

Practise This Question

This question and the next one appeared in the   in the linked comprehension format. Let's give them a shot.

An aqueous solution of metal ion M1 reacts separately with reagents Q and R in excess to give tetrahedral and square planar complexes, respectively. An aqueous solution of another metal ion M2 always forms tetrahedral complexes with these reagents. Aqueous solution of M2 on reaction with reagent S gives white precipitate which dissolves in excess of S. The reactions are summarised in the scheme given below: 

M1, Q and R, respectively are