4.1 Kössel-lewis Approach To Chemical Bonding

In order to explain the formation of chemical bond in terms of electrons, a number of attempts were made, but it was only in 1916 when Kössel and Lewis succeeded independently in giving a satisfactory explanation. They were the first to provide some logical explanation of valence which was based on the inertness of noble gases.


Lewis pictured the atom in terms of a positively charged ‘Kernel’ (the nucleus plus the inner electrons) and the outer shell that could accommodate a maximum of eight electrons.

He, further assumed that these eight electrons occupy the corners of a cube which surround the ‘Kernel’. Thus the single outer shell electron of sodium would occupy one corner of the cube, while in the case of a noble gas all the eight corners would be occupied.

This octet of electrons, represents a particularly stable electronic arrangement. Lewis postulated that atoms achieve the stable octet when they are linked by chemical bonds.

In the case of sodium and chlorine, this can happen by the transfer of an electron from sodium to chlorine thereby giving the Na+ and Cl ions. In the case of other molecules like Cl2, H2, F2, etc., the bond is formed by the sharing of a pair of electrons between the atoms. In the process each atom attains a stable outer octet of electrons.


Lewis Symbols: In the formation of a molecule, only the outer shell electrons take part in chemical combination and they are known as valence electrons.

The inner shell electrons are well protected and are generally not involved in the combination process. G.N. Lewis, an American chemist introduced simple notations to represent valence electrons in an atom.

These notations are called Lewis symbols. For example, the Lewis symbols for the elements of second period are as under:

Significance of Lewis Symbols: The number of dots around the symbol represents the number of valence electrons. This number of valence electrons helps to calculate the common or group valence of the element.

The group valence of the elements is generally either equal to the number of dots in Lewis symbols or 8 minus the number of dots or valence electrons.


Kössel, in relation to chemical bonding, drew attention to the following facts:

  • In the periodic table, the highly electronegative halogens and the highly electropositive alkali metals are separated by the noble gases;
  • The formation of a negative ion from a halogen atom and a positive ion from an alkali metal atom is associated with the gain and loss of an electron by the respective atoms;
  • The negative and positive ions thus formed attain stable noble gas electronic configurations. The noble gases (with the exception of helium which has a duplet of electrons) have a particularly stable outer shell configuration of eight (octet) electrons, ns2np6.
  • The negative and positive ions are stabilized by electrostatic attraction.


For example, the formation of NaCl from sodium and chlorine, according to the above scheme, can be explained as:

Similarly the formation of CaF2 may be shown as:

The bond formed, as a result of the electrostatic attraction between the positive and negative ions was termed as the electrovalent bond. The electrovalence is thus equal to the number of unit charge(s) on the ion.

Thus, calcium is assigned a positive electrovalence of two, while chlorine a negative electrovalence of one.

Kössel’s postulations provide the basis for the modern concepts regarding ion-formation by electron transfer and the formation of ionic crystalline compounds.

His views have proved to be of great value in the understanding and systematisation of the ionic compounds. At the same time he did recognise the fact that a large number of compounds did not fit into these concepts.

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