Hydrogen bonding

Hydrogen bonding

Hydrogen bonding


“Why is water such a special element?”


Water is a very special element. This single molecule allows for the scientific miracle of life to occur, whether it be the smallest of fungi to the largest of whales. Water allows for humans to hydrate themselves, and to create agriculture.

But why is it so special? Well, believe it or not, it all comes down to one basic property of water, the special way that it bonds. Water is made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms (hence the name H2O). Both of these atoms have shared electrons. However, due to the electronegativity of the oxygen atom, the electrons will be closer to the oxygen than the hydrogen atom. This means that the water molecule will become polarized, resulting in a dipole. This type of charge is so special that scientists and engineers have termed this type of bond a hydrogen bond.

Because of this asymmetry of charge, water can dissolve electrolytes such as sodium chloride [NaCl] easily. This hydrogen bond also allows water to hold together DNA, proteins, and other macromolecules. The polar quality of hydrogen molecules also allows for other water molecules to attract one another very easily, with the oxygens reaching out to the hydrogens. This form of bonding gives water some of it’s special properties, such as a high boiling point (100 degrees C) and surface tension.

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