Do oxygen molecules ever become cyclic shapes like carbon and other elements?

Theoretical Cyclic Ozone

Why doesn't oxygen form cyclic compounds? How stable would they be if they do exist. Especially more than 3 oxygens. Why are there just 2 allotropes of oxygen known to mankind.


Unlike the likes of carbon, oxygen-oxygen single bonds are highly unstable. Because oxygen is such an electronegative compound, it can only become satisfied with bonds where it hoards a majority of the electrons. Because of this, compounds such as peroxides ($\ce{RO-OR}$) will readily decompose into two radicals. This is why hydrogen peroxide is used as a radical initiator for chemical reactions. Since a single $\ce{O-O}$ bond is so unstable, it would be extremely unlikely for a larger chain to exist. Peroxides by themselves are highly unstable. Not only do they decompose into radicals, but they also rapidly decompose into water. Peroxides have a single $\ce{O-O}$ bond, and are somewhat stabilized by donating groups on either side of the peroxide. Now, imagine a chain that looks like this: $\ce{O-O-O}$. The central oxygen is not only bonded one inductively withdrawing oxygen as in peroxides, but two of them. In addition, it is not stabilized by electron donation from any source. Despite this, it is predicted that small amounts of cyclic ozone might exist in the atmosphere. Cyclic ozone is so much less stable than regular ozone for the reasons I listed above, but it should exist. Any larger oxygen ring will most likely not form.

Carbon does not have this same problem. Since carbon has a mid range electro-negativity, it is stable forming bonds with itself. In addition, carbon can form four covalent bonds, normally two of which are with hydrogens (as in a cycloalkane). Carbon is perfectly stable with this electron density, leading to the stability of cyclic alkanes.

  • $\begingroup$ It's not that simple and you're overstating reactivity of those bonds. See chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/35574/… $\endgroup$ – Mithoron May 25 '16 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ "Trioxidane has a half-life around 16 minutes in organic solvents, but only milliseconds in water." $\endgroup$ – Niels Kornerup May 25 '16 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ But aren't unlikely to exist. You should use sources and write using NPOV, not try to make your point. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron May 25 '16 at 19:13

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