Chemical bonding, which is defined by the electrostatic attracted between two or more atoms of opposite charged, which allows for the creation of chemical compounds, is a concept that is a key building block in our understanding of matter. It has been commonly accepted that there are two types of chemical bonding. Ionic bonding, in which electrons are given by a metal to a non metal to create an ionic bonding, and Covalent bonding, in which electrons are shared between two non metals. Many aspects of the identification of matter—such as solubility, malleability, polarity, conductivity, boiling and melting point etc.— are dependent on the type of bond that is present. As such, is important that chemists understand and are able to make reasonable assumptions based on their knowledge of chemical bonding.
However, recently a new type of chemical bond known as a “vibrational bond” has been discovered, shaking the foundation of what had been long accepted as true within the scientific community. This type of bond is a temporary, millisecond long reaction, in which a lightweight atom will rapidly bounce between two heavier atoms. This bond, which was hypothesized, to exist in the 1980’s, before the technology needed to monitor the millisecond in which in occurred was developed. The interesting part about this reaction is how, unlike covalent and ionic bonds, the rate of reaction decreases with increased temperature. This is because the vibrations of the oscillating atom temporarily hold the two heavier atoms together, which decreases the overall energy and speed of the reaction.
So, how does this relate to society? Well, as with all new scientific discoveries, the practical applications are still in the works. However, the team who conducted the experiment has stated that vibrational bonds should be taught as a type of chemical reaction. This development in such a major area of chemistry has the potential to change the curriculum and workplace expectations, as well as redefining our current understanding of the properties of matter.
What do you think? Do you think that this millisecond long reaction should be incorporated into the High-school curriculum? And given what we have learned about chemical bonds, what kinds of qualities should these chemical interactions be tested for?