Benzene represents a special problem in that, to account for all the bonds, there must be alternating double carbon bonds:
X-ray diffraction shows that all of six carbon-carbon bonds in benzene are of the same length of 140 picometres (pm). The C–C bond lengths are greater than a double bond (135 pm) but shorter than a single bond (147 pm). This intermediate distance is consistent with electron delocalization: the electrons for C–C bonding are distributed equally between each of the six carbon atoms. Benzene has 8 hydrogen atoms fewer than the corresponding parent alkane, hexane. The molecule is planar. One representation is that the structure exists as a superposition of so-called resonance structures, rather than either form individually. The delocalization of electrons is one explanation for the thermodynamic stability of benzene and related aromatic compounds. It is likely that this stability contributes to the peculiar molecular and chemical properties known as aromaticity. To indicate the delocalized nature of the bonding, benzene is often depicted with a circle inside a hexagonal arrangement of carbon atoms.
The delocalized picture of benzene has been contested by Cooper, Gerratt and Raimondi in their article published in 1986 in the journal Nature. They showed that the electrons in benzene are almost certainly localized, and the aromatic properties of benzene originate from spin coupling rather than electron delocalization. This view has been supported in the next-year Nature issue, but it has been slow to permeate the general chemistry community.
As is common in organic chemistry, the carbon atoms in the diagram above have been left unlabeled. Realizing each carbon has 2p electrons, each carbon donates an electron into the delocalized ring above and below the benzene ring. It is the side-on overlap of p-orbitals that produces the pi clouds.
Derivatives of benzene occur sufficiently often as a component of organic molecules that there is a Unicode symbol in the Miscellaneous Technical block with the code U+232C (⌬) to represent it with three double bonds, and U+23E3 (⏣) for a delocalized version.
Read more about this topic: Benzene
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