How do molecular orbital diagrams vary for homonuclear and heteronuclear diatomic molecules?

Molecular orbital diagrams for homonuclear diatomic molecules are symmetrical, while those for heteronuclear diatomic molecules are not.

In homonuclear diatomic molecules, such as O2 or N2, the atomic orbitals of the two atoms are identical, leading to a symmetrical molecular orbital diagram. The atomic orbitals combine to form molecular orbitals, which are classified as either bonding or antibonding. Bonding orbitals are lower in energy and more stable than the original atomic orbitals, while antibonding orbitals are higher in energy and less stable. In a molecular orbital diagram, these orbitals are represented by horizontal lines, with bonding orbitals below and antibonding orbitals above the atomic orbitals. The number of electrons in each orbital is indicated by arrows. For homonuclear diatomic molecules, the diagram is symmetrical because the atomic orbitals and the resulting molecular orbitals are the same for both atoms.

On the other hand, in heteronuclear diatomic molecules, such as CO or NO, the atomic orbitals of the two atoms are different, leading to an asymmetrical molecular orbital diagram. The atomic orbitals still combine to form molecular orbitals, but the energy levels and stability of these orbitals can be different for the two atoms. This is due to the difference in electronegativity between the two atoms. The more electronegative atom will have lower energy atomic orbitals, leading to lower energy bonding orbitals and higher energy antibonding orbitals. In the molecular orbital diagram, this is represented by the bonding orbitals being closer to the more electronegative atom and the antibonding orbitals being closer to the less electronegative atom. The number of electrons in each orbital is still indicated by arrows, but the diagram is not symmetrical due to the differences between the two atoms.

In summary, the main difference between molecular orbital diagrams for homonuclear and heteronuclear diatomic molecules is the symmetry of the diagram. This is due to the identical atomic orbitals in homonuclear diatomic molecules and the different atomic orbitals in heteronuclear diatomic molecules.

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