The commonly shown structure of the ClO radical described here has a single bond between the chlorine and oxygen atoms. In that structure, chlorine has a formal charge of 1, and oxygen has a formal charge of -1.

Why doesn't ClO have a double bond between the chlorine and oxygen atoms instead? That way, the radical would exist on the chlorine atom, and both atoms would have a formal charge of 0.

  • $\begingroup$ Your premise is false. Similar question would make sense in case of, say, SO3, but not here. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jun 22 '18 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron why is that so? $\endgroup$ – coder Jun 22 '18 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Formal charges are introduced in dative bonds, not usual single bonds! $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jun 23 '18 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ You can calculate a formal charge for any atom. It may not be the correct approach, but there is no rule about dative versus single bonds. $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon Jun 24 '18 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ "Premise is false" is not helpful. The simplest reason would be related to electronegativity; it is larger for oxygen than chlorine. $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon Jun 24 '18 at 2:01

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