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This site, from which the above image was taken, indicates that the hybridization of the orbitals on the C and N atoms in hydrogen cyanide is sp. I can certainly see how that would be the case for carbon, but why need the terminal nitrogen atom have sp hybrid orbitals? Couldn't it form a σ bond with the carbon's sp orbital through its s or p orbitals and use two other p orbitals to form the two π bonds?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Where do the "lone pair" electrons end up in such scenario? Do they move into the s orbital and orbit closer to the N nucleus, or do they occupy the p orbital and spend some time between the carbon and the nitrogen? $\endgroup$
    – Max
    Mar 27, 2017 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Max I'm not sure what you're getting at, but I'd say the former. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2017 at 15:24


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