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Ammonia Molecule

The ammonia molecule is a polar covalent molecule made up of one atom of Nitrogen and three atoms of Hydrogen.

The single Nitrogen atom in an ammonia molecule is bonded to three atoms of Hydrogen through the sharing of three electron pairs, one with each atom of Hydrogen. In each of these three covalent bonds formed between Nitrogen and Hydrogen, one electron is provided by Nitrogen and one electron is provided by the Hydrogen atom. This forms one pair of shared electrons. The following diagram represents the structure of an ammonia molecule.

 Ammonia Molecule

As shown in the diagram, the angle between each covalent bond is 107.8 degrees, resulting in a trigonal pyramidal structure.

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Shape of Ammonia Molecule

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  1. The ammonia molecule is formed by covalent bonding between one Nitrogen atom and three Hydrogen atoms.
  2. A single nitrogen atom has 5 electrons in its valence shell in the normal condition (that is, when it has not lost any electrons).
  3. Each Hydrogen atom has 1 valence electron.
  4. One of each valence electron of nitrogen and one electron of hydrogen combine and form a single covalent bond. Similarly three bonds are formed between the Nitrogen atom and three Hydrogen atoms respectively.
  5. Thus there are a total of 8 valence electrons in the ammonia molecule, three from hydrogen and five from nitrogen.
  6. Since 3 of the 5 valence electrons of nitrogen are shared, the two electrons that remain unshared are referred to as a lone pair of electrons.
Characteristics of the Ammonia Molecule
  1. The ammonia molecule exhibits a polar nature due to the type of chemical bonds formed between hydrogen and nitrogen, which leaves one electron pair unbounded.
  2. This unbounded electron pair, or the lone electron pair, exerts pressure on the other three covalent bonds between nitrogen and hydrogen in the ammonia molecule.
  3. Due to the pressure exerted by the lone electron pair on Nitrogen, the other three bonds move slightly and achieve an angle of 107.8 degrees. This gives the ammonia molecule a trigonal pyramidal structure.
  4. The presence of a lone electron pair in the ammonia molecule gives it a basic nature, as it accepts protons and forms positively charged ammonium ions.

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