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1.49 - 1.51 Covalent Giants

Covalent bonding can lead to the formation of lattices

Covalent bonds form when electrons are shared between nuclei

Atoms which can form two or more covalent bonds can bond with other similar atoms or themselves and form covalent lattices. Carbon in the form of diamond is a good example,  as is silicon dioxide in the form of quartz.


A valuable lattice 

 Activity. Diamond - close up

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Click on the animation to explore this 3 dimensional visualisation of a giant covalent lattice by Surya.

The red spheres represent atoms of carbon. Each carbon atom has four identical covalent bonds. These each connect with four atoms which then connect with four more and so on - to form a giant covalent lattice. 

Notice that in this structure when a carbon atom has 4 bonds all its outer electrons are involved in covalent bonds. There are no free electrons

how to draw a diamond lattice

An explanation of how you can accurately draw a diagram of the diamond structure

1.49 Giant covalent vs simple molecules

 Students should:

  • 1.49 explain why substances with giant covalent structures are solids with high melting and boiling points
  • 1.50 explain how the structures of diamond, graphite and C60 fullerene influence their physical properties, including electrical conductivity and hardness
  • 1.51 know that covalent compounds do not usually conduct electricity

The structure formed is strong and requires a lot of energy to break it up and so the melting and boiling points of covalent lattices tend to be very high.  

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