Bond energy

Bond energy

Bond energy in chemistry refers to the energy required to break a chemical bond between two atoms in a molecule. This energy is a measure of the strength of the bond and varies depending on the type of bond and the atoms involved.

This type of energy is crucial because it determines the stability of molecules and atomic nuclei, influences chemical reactivity, and is key in nuclear processes such as fission and fusion.

Basic concepts and bond types

Atoms combine to form molecules through chemical bonds, which can be covalent, ionic, or metallic. Bond energy is usually expressed in kilojoules per mole (kJ/mol), which indicates the energy required to break one mole of bonds of a specific type in a substance.

  1. Covalent bonds: In these bonds, atoms share electrons. The bond energy in covalent bonds varies widely depending on the atoms involved and the number of electron pairs shared. For example, the binding energy of a single bond (such as the HH bond in molecular hydrogen) is lower than that of a double bond (as in molecular oxygen) or a triple bond (as in molecular nitrogen).
  2. Ionic bonds: Formed when one atom donates an electron to another, creating ions with opposite charges that attract each other. The binding energy in ionic compounds depends on the magnitude of the charges on the ions and the distance between them. Ionic bonds tend to be very strong due to the electrostatic attraction between oppositely charged ions.
  3. Metallic bonds: In metallic bonds, atoms share a "sea" of electrons that move freely between them. The bond energy in metals varies depending on the structure and type of metal but is generally considerable due to the strong cohesion between metal atoms.

Endothermic and exothermic reactions

During a chemical reaction, bonds in the reactants are broken and new bonds are formed in the products.

The energy required to break the bonds in the reactants and the energy released when forming the bonds in the products determine whether a reaction is exothermic (releases energy) or endothermic (absorbs energy).

Example: combustion reaction

methane moleculeConsider the combustion of methane (CH₄) with oxygen (O₂) to form carbon dioxide (CO₂) and water (H₂O).

For this reaction, the CH bonds in methane and the O=O bonds in oxygen must first be broken. Then, new C=O bonds are formed in carbon dioxide and OH in water.

The difference between the energy needed to break the original bonds and the energy released when forming the new bonds determines the total energy of the reaction.


Binding energy can help predict the stability of molecules. Molecules with strong bonds (high bond energy) are generally more stable and less reactive than those with weak bonds (low bond energy).

Nuclear binding energy

fission reactionBinding energy is directly related to nuclear energy through the force that holds nucleons (protons and neutrons) together in the atomic nucleus. This energy, known as the nuclear binding energy, is significantly greater than the chemical binding energy due to the powerful strong nuclear force.

In nuclear processes such as fission and fusion, the release of energy is due to the difference in binding energy before and after the reaction.

In fission, a heavy nucleus splits into lighter nuclei, releasing energy because the products have a higher binding energy per nucleon. In contrast, in fusion, light nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, releasing energy for a similar reason.

Factors affecting binding energy

Several factors influence the binding energy:

  1. Size of atoms: Smaller atoms tend to form stronger bonds because their nuclei are closer to the shared electrons.
  2. Charge and electronegativity: Atoms with high electronegativity tend to form stronger bonds because they attract shared electrons more strongly. The difference in electronegativity between atoms can also influence the bond energy.
  3. Bond order: As mentioned before, multiple bonds (double, triple) are stronger than single bonds because there are more shared electron pairs.


Binding energy can be measured experimentally using techniques such as spectroscopy and calorimetry.

In spectroscopy, the absorption or emission of light by a molecule is analyzed to determine the energy needed to break bonds. On the other hand, in calorimetry, the heat released or absorbed during a chemical reaction is measured.

Data de publicació: June 20, 2024
Última revisió: June 20, 2024