Atomic Tuesday: The Pauling Scale

The Pauling scale is a convenient way to compare the electronegativity of two or more atoms.  An atom’s electronegativity is the attractive force it has for an electron.  The Pauling scale gives a relative magnitude for this attraction.  Linus Pauling, the Nobel winning chemist, contributed enormously to areas of chemistry such as molecular bonding theory.  He devised this scale with the maximum electronegativity set to 4.0.  Fluorine is the most electronegative atom and has a Pauling value of 4.0.  Francium, on the opposite corner of the periodic table from Fluorine, as the lowest Pauling value for any of the elements, and is 0.7. If two atoms have a large difference in their Pauling values, then they are more likely to form ionic bonds since one of the pair will have a much greater attraction for an electron then the other.  If on the other hand, the pair of atoms have very similar values, then they are likely to form covalent bonds, since

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