Image Hydrogen peroxide molecule

TLF ID R6844

This is a colour image of a model of a molecule of hydrogen peroxide, H₂O₂. In this model, atoms are represented by coloured spheres held together by grey rods, representing covalent bonds. The hydrogen peroxide molecule consists of two oxygen atoms (the red spheres) and two hydrogen atoms (the grey-white spheres).



Educational details

Educational value
  • Hydrogen peroxide is usually encountered in the form of a solution used as a disinfectant or bleaching agent. The pure compound is a pale blue, viscous liquid. Its uses arise from the fact that it a strong oxidiser. Sunlight and many catalysts, including the enzyme catalase found in body tissues, will cause hydrogen peroxide to decompose rapidly into water and oxygen.
  • The atoms in the molecule are connected by single covalent bonds. A covalent bond is formed when atoms share electrons. A single covalent bond has two shared electrons, one contributed by each atom. Because the oxygen atoms are able to contribute two electrons, they are able to participate in two covalent bonds, whereas each hydrogen atom has only one electron to share and so can form only one bond.
  • The molecule has an angular shape, and is shown in its most stable shape. The shape is not fixed since the single bond between the oxygen atoms allows the hydrogen atoms to rotate around that axis. The molecule can have temporary shapes varying roughly from a U to a Z. Each H-O-O angle is about 97 degrees.
  • The type of model shown here, called a ball-and-stick model, is one of several ways of modelling molecules. This type is useful because it clearly shows the geometry of the molecule and the order (single, double or triple) of the bonds. However, because 'sticks' are used to represent bonds, this type of model does not represent the actual shape of the molecule as well as 'space-filling' models do.

Other details

Contributors
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 20 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Remarks: Copyright Education Services Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 2006
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Remarks: creator
  • Content provider
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
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Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.