Isoelectronicity is a phenomenon observed when two or more molecules have the same structure (positions and connectivities among atoms) and the same electronic configurations, but differ by what specific elements are at certain locations in the structure.
This definition is sometimes termed valence isoelectronicity. Definitions can sometimes be not as strict, sometimes requiring identity of the total electron count and with it the entire electronic configuration. More usually, definitions are broader, and may extend to allowing different numbers of atoms in the species being compared.
The importance of the concept lies in identifying significantly related species, as pairs or series. Isoelectronic species can be expected to show useful consistency and predictability in their properties, so identifying a compound as isoelectronic with one already characterised offers clues to possible properties and reactions (Differences in properties such as electronegativity of the atoms in isolelectronic species can affect reactivity.)
2, and NO+
are isoelectronic because each has two atoms triple bonded together, and due to the charge have analogous electronic configurations (N−
is identical in electronic configuration to O so CO is identical electronically to CN−
Molecular orbital diagrams best illustrate isoelectronicity in diatomic molecules, showing how atomic orbital mixing in isoelectronic species results in identical orbital combination, and thus also bonding.
More complex molecules can be polyatomic also. For example, the amino acids serine, cysteine, and selenocysteine are all isoelectronic to each other. They differ by which specific chalcogen is present at one location in the side-chain.
- IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "isoelectronic". doi:10.1351/goldbook.I03276
- Isoelectronic Configurations iun.edu
- A. A. Aradi & T. P. Fehlner, "Isoelectronic Organometallic Molecules", in F. G. A. Stone & Robert West (eds.) Advances in Organometallic Chemistry Vol. 30 (1990), Chapter 5 (at p. 190) google books link