Lewis Structure of NO2 (With 5 Simple Steps to Draw!)

Lewis structure of NO2

I’m super excited to teach you the lewis structure of NO2 in just 5 simple steps.

Infact, I’ve also given the step-by-step images for drawing the lewis dot structure of NO2 molecule.

So, if you are ready to go with these 5 simple steps, then let’s dive right into it!

Lewis structure of NO2 contains one double bond and one single bond between the Nitrogen (N) atom and Oxygen (O) atoms. The Nitrogen atom (N) is at the center and it is surrounded by 2 Oxygen atoms (O). The Nitrogen atom has 1 unpaired electron, one Oxygen atom has 3 lone pairs and the other Oxygen atom has 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 NO2).

5 Steps to Draw the Lewis Structure of NO2

Step #1: Calculate the total number of valence electrons

Here, the given molecule is NO2 (Nitrogen dioxide). In order to draw the lewis structure of NO2, first of all you have to find the total number of valence electrons present in the NO2 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 NO2

  • For Nitrogen:

Nitrogen is a group 15 element on the periodic table. [1]

Hence, the valence electrons present in nitrogen is 5 (see below image).

  • For Oxygen:

Oxygen is a group 16 element on the periodic table. [2]

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

Hence in a NO2 molecule, 

Valence electrons given by Nitrogen (N) atom = 5
Valence electron given by each Oxygen (O) atom = 6
So, total number of Valence electrons in NO2 molecule = 5 + 6(2) = 17

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). [3]

Here in the NO2 molecule, if we compare the nitrogen atom (N) and oxygen atom (O), then the nitrogen is less electronegative than oxygen.

So, nitrogen 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 NO2 molecule, put the two electrons (i.e electron pair) between each nitrogen atom and oxygen atom to represent a chemical bond between them.

step 2

These pairs of electrons present between the Nitrogen (N) and Oxygen (O) atoms form a chemical bond, which bonds the nitrogen and oxygen atoms with each other in a NO2 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 NO2, 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, only 16 valence electrons of NO2 molecule are used in the above structure.

But there are total 17 valence electrons in NO2 molecule (as calculated in step #1).

So the number of electrons left to be kept on the central atom = 17 – 16 = 1.

So let’s keep this electron (i.e unpaired electron) on the central atom.

step 4

(Note: In most cases, you will see that the pair of electrons are left. But here, only one electron is left. So we have to put this unpaired electron on the central atom).

Now, 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 nitrogen) has an octet or not. 

In simple words, we have to check whether the central Nitrogen (N) atom has 8 electrons or not.

step 5

As you can see from the above image, the central atom (i.e nitrogen) has only 5 electrons. So it does not fulfill the octet rule.

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

step 6

Now you can see from the above image that the central atom (i.e nitrogen), is having 7 electrons. 

If we try to add one more electron pair on the nitrogen atom, then there will be 7+2=9 electrons in its outermost orbit. And nitrogen atom does not have the capacity to hold 9 electrons in its outermost orbit.

Because of this reason, the above lewis dot structure of NO2 (having 7 electrons on central atom) is a stable structure.

Each electron pair (:) in the lewis dot structure of NO2 represents the single bond ( | ). So the above lewis dot structure of NO2 can also be represented as shown below.

NO2 lewis structure

Related lewis structures for your practice:
Lewis structure of NH3
Lewis structure of HCN
Lewis structure of H2O
Lewis structure of N2
Lewis structure of O2

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Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. With a desire to make learning accessible for everyone, he founded Knords Learning, an online learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.

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