Lewis Structure of CO2 (With 6 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis structure of CO2

I’m super excited to teach you the lewis structure of CO2 in just 6 simple steps.

Infact, I’ve also given the step-by-step images for drawing the lewis dot structure of CO2 molecule.

So, if you are ready to go with these 6 simple steps, then let’s dive right into it!

Lewis structure of CO2 (or Carbon Dioxide) contains two double bonds between the Carbon (C) atom and each Oxygen (O) atom. The Carbon atom (C) is at the center and it is surrounded by 2 Oxygen atoms (O). The Carbon atom does not have a lone pair while both the Oxygen atoms have 2 lone pairs.

Let’s draw and understand this lewis dot structure step by step.

(Note: Take a pen and paper with you and try to draw this lewis structure along with me. I am sure you will definitely learn how to draw lewis structure of CO2).

6 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of CO2

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is CO2 (carbon dioxide). In order to draw the lewis structure of CO2, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the CO2 molecule.
(Valence electrons are the number of electrons present in the outermost shell of an atom).

So, let’s calculate this first.

Calculation of valence electrons in CO2

  • For Carbon:

Carbon is a group 14 element on the periodic table.

Hence, the valence electrons present in carbon is 4 (see below image).

  • For Oxygen:

Oxygen is a group 16 element on the periodic table.

Hence, the valence electron present in oxygen is 6 (see below image).

Hence in a CO2 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Carbon (C) atom = 4
Valence electron given by each Oxygen (O) atom = 6
So, total number of Valence electrons in CO2 molecule = 4 + 6(2) = 16

Step #2: Select the center atom

While selecting the atom, always put the least electronegative atom at the center.

(Remember: Fluorine is the most electronegative element on the periodic table and the electronegativity decreases as we move right to left in the periodic table as well as top to bottom in the periodic table).

Here in the CO2 molecule, if we compare the carbon atom (C) and oxygen atom (O), then the carbon is less electronegative than oxygen.

So, carbon should be placed in the center and the remaining 2 oxygen atoms will surround it.

step 1

Step #3: Put two electrons between the atoms to represent a chemical bond

Now in the above sketch of CO2 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each carbon atom and oxygen atom to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Carbon (C) and Oxygen (O) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds the carbon and oxygen atoms with each other in a CO2 molecule.

Step #4: Complete the octet (or duplet) on outside atoms. If the valence electrons are left, then put the valence electrons pair on the central atom

Don’t worry, I’ll explain!

In the Lewis structure of CO2, the outer atoms are oxygen atoms.

So now, you have to complete the octet on these oxygen atoms (because oxygen requires 8 electrons to have a complete outer shell).

step 3

Now, you can see in the above image that all the oxygen atoms form an octet.

Also, all the 16 valence electrons of CO2 molecule (as calculated in step #1) are used in the above structure. So there are no remaining electron pairs.

Hence there is no change in the above sketch of CO2.

Let’s move to the next step.

Step #5: Check whether the central atom has octet or not. If it does not have an octet, then move the electron pair from the outer atom to form a double bond or triple bond

In this step, we have to check whether the central atom (i.e carbon) has an octet or not. 

In simple words, we have to check whether the central Carbon (C) atom is having 8 electrons or not.

step 4

As you can see from the above image, the central atom (i.e carbon) has only 4 electrons. So it does not fulfill the octet rule.

Now, in order to fulfill the octet of carbon atom, we have to move the electron pair from the outer atom (i.e oxygen atom) to form a double bond.

step 5

Still, the octet of carbon atom is not fulfilled as it has only 6 electrons.

So again moving the electron pair from another oxygen atom, we will get the following structure.

step 6

Now you can see from the above image that the central atom (i.e carbon), is having 8 electrons. So it fulfills the octet rule and the carbon atom is stable.

Step #6: Final step – Check the stability of lewis structure by calculating the formal charge on each atom

Now, you have come to the final step and here you have to check the formal charge on carbon atom (C) as well as each oxygen atom (O).

For that, you need to remember the formula of formal charge;

Formal charge = Valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons – (Bonding electrons)/2

step 7
  • For Carbon:
    Valence electrons = 4 (as it is in group 14)
    Nonbonding electrons = 0
    Bonding electrons = 8
  • For Oxygen:
    Valence electron = 6 (as it is in group 16)
    Nonbonding electrons = 4
    Bonding electrons = 4
Formal charge=Valence electronsNonbonding electrons(Bonding electrons)/2
C=408/2=0
O=644/2=0

So you can see above that the formal charges on carbon as well as oxygen are “zero”.

Hence, there will not be any change in the above structure and the above lewis structure of CO2 is the final stable structure only.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of CO2 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of CO2 can also be represented as shown below.

CO2 lewis structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis structure of SO2
Lewis structure of NO2
Lewis structure of NH3
Lewis structure of HCN
Lewis structure of H2O

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