The famous VSEPR theory was proposed by first Sidgwick & Powell. It was modified then by Nyholm & Gillespie.

I was reading Inorganic Chemistry by J.D.Lee where he discusses very briefly the theory of Sidgwick & Powell; I couldn't somewhat conceive the language. So, I googled it but to my misfortune I could nowhere get more info other than this:

The idea of a correlation between molecular geometry and number of valence electrons (both shared and unshared) was originally proposed in 1939 by Ryutaro Tsuchida in Japan, and was _independently presented in a Bakerian Lecture in 1940 by Nevil Sidgwick and Herbert Powell of the University of Oxford. In 1957, Ronald Gillespie and Ronald Sydney Nyholm of University College London refined this concept into a more detailed theory, capable of choosing between various alternative geometries [1]

Everyone would give the historical info that Sidgwick & Powell was the first to introduce the theory which was later modified to the present VSEPR theory. I don't want that!

Can anyone please help me to bring me forward the original Sidgwick-Powell theory? Also the million-euro question: What are the differences between the two theories? In another way to say: What were the modifications that Mr. Nyholm & Gillespie brought forward that "improved the original" theory?



1 Answer 1


Perhaps you should read the original papers: N.V. Sidgwick and H.M. Powell, "Stereochemical types and valency groups", Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Vol 176, No. 965, pp 153-180 (1940), and R.J. Gillespie and R.S. Nyholm, "Inorganic Stereochemistry", Quarterly Reviews, Chemical Society 11 (4) 339-380 (1957).

To quote out of Gillespie's paper:

Sidgwick and Powell assumed that lone pairs of electrons and bonding pairs were of equal importance and that they arranged themselves symmetrically so as to minimise the repulsions between them. The ligand(or crystal)- field theory is concerned with the influence of the non-bonding electrons upon the arrangement of the ligands which are assumed to be negative ions or dipoles surrounding a central metal atom. Recently the influence of covalent binding has also been considered. These various theories are in fact closely related and an attempt has been made in this Review to integrate them. It appears that the simple theory of electron-pair repulsions receives considerable justification from quantum-mechanics and when refined to take into account differences between the repulsions between lone pairs and bonding pairs of electrons provides a very satisfactory theory of the stereochemistry of inorganic molecules.

That should get you going...


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