What do we mean when we talk about carbon hybridization? I'm trying to understand how it works, what is the difference between non-hybridized and hybridized carbon?


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  • $\begingroup$ Carbon is not hybridised. In a too simple model, carbon has s and p valence orbitals, like those in the hydrogen atom. The geometry of those is not useful to make bonds. Instead, the orbitals that form bonds have different properties, either 4 sp3 or 3 sp2 and 1 pi or 2 sp and 2 pi orbitals. A not too bad description of those can be reached by mathematically "mixing" the properties of s and p orbitals. Hence their name "hybrid". To simplify this description, we just say C is hybridised sp3 or sp2 or sp. Nonhybridised does not occur normally. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jan 15 '18 at 23:35

Actually hybridization refers to the electron orbitals around the atom not the atom itself. It actually follows the model called VSPER of electron distribution. So it's not limited to carbon, it applies to all atoms.

Atoms depending on the number of electrons they have in their elemental form, has a set number of orbitals. And in order they are as follows, S orbital 2e-, P orbital 6e-, and some other you don't really encounter in intro ochem.

The hybridization is how the orbitals combine to create bonds. You should really read a book about this, I really recommend organic chemistry by Klein chapter 1.


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