What Is Meant By Covalent Radius?

The covalent radius of an element is considered to be one half of the covalent bond distance of a molecule where the atoms concerned are participating in single bonding. In other words, It may be defined as one-half of the distance between the centres of the nuclei of two similar atoms bonded by a single covalent bond.  The covalent radius of an atom is the radius of an atom under the covalent bond with another atom(s) of a similar element. The covalent radius of an atom can be determined by measuring bond lengths between pairs of covalently-bonded atoms.

Covalent and van der Waals radius

Van Der Waals Radius

Van-der-Waals radii are determined from the contact distances between unbonded atoms in touching molecules or atoms.

  • The covalent radius of the elements is shorter than its van der Waals radius.
  • The formation of a covalent bond involves the overlapping of atomic orbitals.
  • As a result of this, the internuclear distances between the covalently bonded atoms is less than the internuclear distances between the non-bonded atoms.
  • The covalent radii vary with the type of bond between the atoms.
  • The values of covalent radii may also differ between allotropes. For example, the covalent radius of carbon is 77pm in diamond and 71pm in graphite.

Articles to explore

  1. Write a note on hydrogen bonding.
  2. What is chemical bonding?


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