Understanding how molecules bond in 3D – Hybridisation

Hybridisation is useful to understand for the GAMSAT at face value, and also to gain a deeper understanding of more difficult organic chemsitry concepts. For GAMSAT, focus on sp, sp2 and sp3 hybridisation.

You can understand hybridisation the quick way or the more in depth way.

The quick way is mostly about simply matching the hybridisation labels sp, sp2 and sp3 with the “regions of electron density”.  Remember that sp hybrid orbitals are made of two atomic orbitals: an s and a p, sp2 hybrid orbitals are made with one s and two p atomic orbitals and sp3 hybrid orbitals are made of one s and three p hybrid orbitals.

This is explained by Ben in this short video:

You can also understand hybridisation using orbital box diagrams, and 3D representations of the atomic and molecular orbitals. When you do this, you can get a real visual picture of how the electron density is redispersed from a single atom, to around two or more atoms when they bond with one another.

The following video contains a three dimensional video of the formation of hybrid orbitals.

The hybridisation models past the 8 minute mark are outside of the scope required for understanding of GAMSAT concepts, but are interesting to see how the hybridisation theory can be expanded to bigger molecules.


If you’re struggling…

The Khan Academy always has great videos that really break down the concepts, although they often take a bit longer to watch.

Sal Khan breaks down his explanation into two videos, one focussing on sp3 hybridisation and sigma bonding, and the other on sp and sp2 hybridisation and pi bonding.



Hank Green from Crash Course always has colourful and unique ways of explaining things, so this video is also worth a watch if you’re still a little perplexed-or would like some light entertainment that involves learning about hybridisation…yes it’s possible 🙂

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