CO32- Lewis Structure

CO32- Lewis Structure

CO32- (carbonate) has one carbon atom and three oxygen atoms. In the lewis structure of CO32-, there is one double bond and two single bonds around the carbon atom, with three oxygen atoms attached to it. The oxygen atom with a double bond has two lone pairs, and the two oxygen atoms with single bonds have three lone pairs.

Also, there is a negative (-1) charge on the two oxygen atoms with single bonds.


Here’s how you can draw the CO32- lewis structure step by step.

Step #1: draw sketch
Step #2: mark lone pairs
Step #3: mark charges
Step #4: minimize charges
Step #5: minimize charges again (if there are)

Let’s break down each step in detail.

#1 Draw Sketch

  • First, determine the total number of valence electrons

In the periodic table, carbon lies in group 14, and oxygen lies in group 16.

Hence, carbon has four valence electrons and oxygen has six valence electrons.

Since CO32- has one carbon atom and three oxygen atoms, so…

Valence electrons of one carbon atom = 4 × 1 = 4
Valence electrons of three oxygen atoms = 6 × 3 = 18

Now the CO32- has a negative (-2) charge, so we have to add two more electrons.

So the total valence electrons = 4 + 18 + 2 = 24

  • Second, find the total electron pairs

We have a total of 24 valence electrons. And when we divide this value by two, we get the value of total electron pairs.

Total electron pairs = total valence electrons ÷ 2

So the total electron pairs = 24 ÷ 2 = 12

  • Third, determine the central atom

We have to place the least electronegative atom at the center.

Since carbon is less electronegative than oxygen, assume that the central atom is carbon.

Therefore, place carbon in the center and oxygens on either side.

  • And finally, draw the rough sketch
CO32- Lewis Structure (Step 1)

#2 Mark Lone Pairs

Here, we have a total of 12 electron pairs. And three C — O bonds are already marked. So we have to only mark the remaining nine electron pairs as lone pairs on the sketch.

Also remember that both (carbon and oxygen) are the period 2 elements, so they can not keep more than 8 electrons in their last shell.

Always start to mark the lone pairs from outside atoms. Here, the outside atoms are oxygens.

So for each oxygen, there are three lone pairs, and for carbon, there is zero lone pair because all nine electron pairs are over.

Mark the lone pairs on the sketch as follows:

CO32- Lewis Structure (Step 2)

#3 Mark Charges

Use the following formula to calculate the formal charges on atoms:

Formal charge = valence electrons – nonbonding electrons – ½ bonding electrons

For carbon atom, formal charge = 4 – 0 – ½ (6) = +1

For each oxygen atom, formal charge = 6 – 6 – ½ (2) = -1

Here, both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges, so mark them on the sketch as follows:

CO32- Lewis Structure (Step 3)

The above structure is not a stable lewis structure because both carbon and oxygen atoms have charges. Therefore, reduce the charges (as below) by converting lone pairs to bonds.

#4 Minimize Charges

Convert a lone pair of the oxygen atom to make a new C — O bond with the carbon atom as follows:

CO32- Lewis Structure (Step 4)

In the above structure, you can see that the central atom (carbon) forms an octet. Hence, the octet rule is satisfied.

Now there is still a negative (-1) charge on the two oxygen atoms.

This is okay, because the structure with a negative charge on the most electronegative atom is the best lewis structure. And in this case, the most electronegative element is oxygen.

Also, the above structure is more stable than the previous structures. Therefore, this structure is the most stable lewis structure of CO32-.

And since the CO32- has a negative (-2) charge, mention that charge on the lewis structure by drawing brackets as follows:

CO32- Lewis Structure (Final)

Next: PF6 Lewis Structure

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