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Formation of a delta bond by the overlap of two d orbitals
3D model of a boundary surface of a delta bond in Mo2

In chemistry, delta bonds (δ bonds) are chemical bonds of the covalent type, where four lobes of one involved electron orbital overlap four lobes of the other involved electron orbital. Of the orbital's node planes, two (and no more) go through both atoms.

The Greek letter δ in their name refers to d orbitals, since the orbital symmetry of the delta bond is the same as that of the usual (4-lobed) type of d orbital when seen down the bond axis.

In chemistry, in sufficiently-large atoms, occupied d-orbitals are low enough in energy to participate in bonding. Delta bonds are usually observed in organometallic species. Some ruthenium and molybdenum compounds contain a quadruple bond, which can only be explained by invoking the delta bond.

It is possible to excite electrons in acetylene from lower-energy nonbonding orbitals to form a delta bond between the two carbon triple bonds. This is because the orbital symmetry of the pi antibonding orbital is the same as that of the delta bond.

Theoretical chemists have conjectured that higher-order bonds (phi bonds and gamma bonds, corresponding to overlap of f and g orbitals) are possible, with even more overlapping lobes of their component atomic orbitals, but no experimental evidence for these has yet been observed.

suitably aligned f orbitals could form a phi bond cartoon of a phi bond's boundary surface

See also



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