Hydrogen Bonding

Basic Understanding of Hydrogen Bonding

  • Hydrogen bonding is a type of intermolecular force and is relatively stronger than other dipole-dipole interactions and dispersion forces.
  • It occurs whenever a hydrogen atom is bonded to a strongly electronegative atom (like nitrogen, oxygen or fluorine) and is then near another electronegative atom.
  • It is unique from the other types of bonding as it involves three atoms: hydrogen and the two electronegative atoms participating in the bond.

Characteristics of Hydrogen Bonds

  • Hydrogen bonds are generally weaker than covalent bonds but stronger than the other types of intermolecular forces.
  • Due to hydrogen bonding, certain substances such as water have higher boiling points than expected, as additional energy is required to break these bonds.
  • The reason for the polarity in water is also due to the hydrogen bonds— they give water its unique abilities to dissolve other substances and achieve cohesive and adhesive properties.

Impact of Hydrogen Bonding on Molecular Structure

  • Ice (solid water) has a hexagonal structure due to hydrogen bonding. Each water molecule forms four hydrogen bonds with the other water molecules, creating an open, cage-like structure.
  • The density of ice is lower than water, which is unusual because solids are typically denser than their liquid counterpart. This is because the open structure of ice, created by hydrogen bonding, takes up more space.

Role of Hydrogen Bonding in Biological Systems

  • Hydrogen bonding plays a crucial role in the structure of DNA, where hydrogen bonds between base pairs keep the double helix structure intact.
  • Proteins also achieve their tertiary and quaternary structures due to hydrogen bonds. This eventually affects their function making hydrogen bond a crucial component in biological systems.

Hydrogen Bonding in Weather and Climate Systems

  • Hydrogen bond is also a fundamental driver of the world’s weather and climate systems, where they influence the phase changes of water and the ability of water to store and transmit heat energy.