Hybridization for NH4+ (description of hybrid orbitals for Nitrogen)

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To find the hybridization for NH4+ we’ll first determine the steric number. The steric number can be found by adding the number of bonded atoms and then number of lone pairs.

Steric Number = (#bonding atoms) + (#lone pairs).

You may also see it written as:
Steric Number = ( sigma bonds) + (#lone pairs).

Both equations result in a steric number of four for NH4+. We can also use the steric number to find the molecular geometry of NH4+. Since we have a steric number of four and no lone pairs, we have a tetrahedral molecular geometry with bond angles of about degrees

The ground state energy level diagram for NH4+ doesn’t explain the tetrahedral molecular geometry observed for NH4+. However, if we consider the s and three p orbitals to be hybridized (a mix to produce four separate and equal orbitals), we can explain the observed molecular geometry of tetrahedral.

There creation of hybrid orbitals is useful for understanding the shape and bond angels for molecules. To understand the energies, molecular orbital theory may be more appropriate.
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