Geometry, Hybridization, and Polarity of ClO Lewis Structure

Hypochlorite has the chemical formula ClO. It is a negatively charged anion that forms hypochlorite salts when it reacts with certain cations. Different hypochlorite salts exist, but sodium hypochlorite is the most commonly used.

Hypochlorite, as a conjugate base comprising hypochlorous acid and an unstable chlorine oxoanion, monovalent inorganic anion, and chlorine oxide, rapidly interacts with many elements. Because they cannot remain stable in other states of matter, most hypochlorite salts exist as an aqueous solution.

Hypochlorite (ClO) is harmful to humans because it irritates the olfactory system and damages the mucous membrane, causing a reduction in smell perception.

Active neutrophil granulocytes in humans are familiar with hypochlorite as an intrinsic defence mechanism that engulfs foreign particles, such as hypochlorite in this case.

Hypochlorite Stability

Because hypochlorite is an anion, it is highly unstable and forms a liquid when it combines with any cation.

It’s vital to remember that hypochlorite of lithium, calcium, and barium exists in anhydrous form.

Hypochlorite salts are made by reacting chlorine with alkali and alkaline earth metal hydroxides for industrial use.

To avoid the generation of chlorates, this reaction is always carried out at room temperature.

The following are the responses:

Cl2 + 2 NaOH → NaCl + NaClO + H2O

2 Cl2 + 2 Ca(OH)2 → CaCl2 + Ca(ClO)2 + 2 H2O

Let’s learn more about this molecule by looking at its Lewis structure, geometry, hybridization, and polarity.

Hypochlorite Lewis Structure (ClO)

A Lewis diagram is a graphic that shows the distribution of valence electrons around an atom.

It also discusses the cause for the development of bonds and their behaviour in terms of newer qualities. If you wish to research a chemical substance, this is the first step you should take.

How to Draw a Hypochlorite Lewis Structure (ClO)

Step 1: Count how many valence electrons are in one hypochlorite molecule.

The chlorine atom possesses seven valence electrons, whereas the oxygen atom only has six.

In addition, hypochlorite has one more valence electron that can be used as a negative sign. As a result, the total is 14.

Step 2: Work out how many more valence electrons are needed to complete the octet in one hypochlorite molecule.

Because both chlorine and oxygen require eight valence electrons to complete their octet, the answer is two. As a result, one hypochlorite molecule requires a total of 16 valence electrons.

Step 3: Identify the main atom.

Because hypochlorite is a diatomic molecule, it does not need a centre atom.

It’s crucial to figure out which atom will form the most bonds in this situation. The electronegativity values of the participating atoms can be used to analyse it.

The greater the number of bonds, the lower the electronegativity value. Chlorine is the element that forms the most bonds in hypochlorite.

Step 4: Make a skeletal drawing.

Write the symbols for chlorine and oxygen next to each other and surround them with available valence electrons in pairs.

On a hypochlorite molecule, how is formal charge distributed?

The formal charge distribution formula is:

Valence electrons – Unbonded electrons – 12 Bonded electrons = Formal charge


7 – 6 – 2/2 = 0 Chlorine

6 – 6 – 2/2 = -1 Oxygen

The aforementioned Lewis structure retains the maximum stability and believability since the overall formal charge distribution on the hypochlorite molecule is -1.

What kind of bonds does hypochlorite (ClO) form?

It’s evident from the Lewis structure that just one link forms between the chlorine and oxygen atoms.

Because both atoms only need one valence electron to complete their octet, this is the case.

Single bonds are the strongest because they are comprised entirely of sigma () bonds.

Along the bonding axis of the hybrid orbitals, a substantial overlapping of the orbitals occurs, resulting in the formation of a single bond in hypochlorite.

Hypochlorite Molecular Geometry (ClO)

The chlorine and oxygen atoms create a single bond in hypochlorite, which is a diatomic molecule. This explains why hypochlorite has a linear shape.

The Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) Theory can be used to investigate it in further depth.

Both atoms have an equal number of unbonded valence electrons at an identical distance from one another, according to it. As a result, they exert an equivalent force of repulsion in the opposite direction, giving the hypochlorite molecule a linear form.

Furthermore, the negative charge on the hypochlorite molecule impacts both chlorine and oxygen atoms until they are unbonded.

Hypochlorite bends when it interacts with a cation, changing its shape from linear to non-linear depending on the amount of cations.

As a result, hypochlorite has a basic linear structure that is easy to connect with and achieves a stable state.

The three-dimensional graphical representation of atoms within a molecule is known as molecular geometry.

It aids in the determination of an atom’s position and behaviour during the creation of a bond.

Bond length, bond angles, and other geometric factors are studied using molecular geometry to anticipate the behaviour of an atom within a bond formation.

Hypochlorite Hybridization (ClO)

Generic FormulaBonded AtomsLone Pair of Valence ElectronsMolecular GeometryElectron GeometryHybridization
AX330Trigonal PlanarTrigonal PlanarSp2
AX2N21BentTrigonal PlanarSp2
AXN212LinearTrigonal PlanarSp2
AX3N31Trigonal PyramidTetrahedralSp3
AX3N232T-ShapedTrigonal BipyramidalSp3d

AX, AX2, AXN, AX3, AX2N, AXN2, AX4, AX3N, AX2N2, AXN3, and AX3N2 are some of the generic hybridization formulas.

Hypochlorite, which possesses one bonded pair of valence electrons, three lone pairs of valence electrons, linear molecular geometry, and tetrahedral electron geometry, falls under the AXN3 category.

As a result, the chlorine hybridization in hypochlorite is sp3.

Chlorine has a lower electronegativity than oxygen.

The mixing and intermixing of one 2s-orbital and three 2p-orbitals in the hypochlorite molecule results in the formation of four new hybrid orbitals with similar properties and energy levels.

Hybridization is a mathematical and graphical portrayal of a molecule’s bond forming process.

It depicts the mixing and intermixing of multiple orbitals, which results in the formation of new orbitals with similar energies.

Valence Bond Theory is used to investigate it in depth (VBT). The energy, forms, angles, and other components of the atomic orbitals are all determined by hybridization.

Hypochlorite Polarity (ClO)

The Lewis Structure confirms that hypochlorite is a polar molecule.

The net dipole moment on one hypochlorite molecule is clearly not zero, as shown by the formal charge distribution. The presence of a -1 charge transforms the hypochlorite molecule into an anion.

The polarity of hypochlorite cannot be proven by looking at the electronegativity values of all of the atoms involved.

Chlorine has an electronegativity of 3.16, while oxygen has an electronegativity of 3.44.

To become polar, the difference in electronegativity values of all involved atoms must be more than 0.4 in ideal conditions. Because the electronegativity difference is less than 0.4, this rule does not apply to hypochlorite.

The existence of a -1 formal charge on the hypochlorite molecule causes this oddity, as it prevents it from fulfilling any property.

Polarity is a property that causes a molecule to behave like a magnet by forming two distinct anion and cation ends within itself.

Hypochlorite, on the other hand, is an anion that seeks out a cation to complete its octet and establish a stable state.

It is not necessary for each molecule to meet all of the criteria for being a polar or nonpolar molecule.

Let us now look at the various applications of hypochlorite.

Hypochlorite’s Applications

It is used as a disinfectant and bleaching agent.

It’s employed in a variety of water treatment methods.

It’s a powerful reagent for oxidation and chlorination reactions in many chemicals.

It’s utilised as a detonator for explosives or as a catalyst for the combustion of organic compounds.

It has a deodorising effect.

It’s utilised to get rid of stains.

It’s utilised to brighten the colour of your hair.

It’s utilised to convert primary alcohols into far more powerful carboxylic acids.

To summarise!

Hypochlorite is unique in that it is a highly unstable substance that exhibits all of the genuine features of covalent molecules. The Lewis structure explains the formal charge distribution and the presence of a dipole cloud on the molecule, which increases the cation availability.

Furthermore, the Lewis structure reveals that the chlorine atom has a tetrahedral electron shape, indicating that it is sp3 hybridised.

Furthermore, hypochlorite has a linear structure due to the presence of an equal amount of valence electrons on both chlorine and oxygen atoms.

Read more: Geometry, Hybridization, and Polarity of AlCl3 Lewis Structure

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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