Hydrogen Bond – Meaning, Types And 9 Examples


Hydrogen bonds are an essential concept in the realm of chemistry and biology. These special interactions greatly influence the characteristics and formation of various substances, such as water molecules and DNA. Grasping the importance and nature of hydrogen bonds is essential in comprehending numerous natural phenomena and processes.

What Is A Hydrogen Bond?

Oxygen is a larger atom compared to hydrogen. In a covalent bond, such as the one formed between oxygen and hydrogen in a water molecule, electrons are shared between the atoms.

Due to the size difference, the oxygen atom has a stronger pull on the shared electrons than the hydrogen atoms. This means the electrons spend more time around the oxygen atom, making it slightly negatively charged. In contrast, the hydrogen atoms have less electron density and are slightly positively charged.

This difference in charge creates an attraction between water molecules, known as hydrogen bonding. One water molecule’s slightly positive hydrogen atom is attracted to another water molecule’s slightly negative oxygen atom.

This interaction between water molecules gives rise to the unique properties of water, such as its high boiling point, surface tension, and ability to dissolve many substances.

What Is A Hydrogen Bond?

A hydrogen bond refers to the electrical attraction between polar molecules, where hydrogen is attached to a larger atom like oxygen or nitrogen. Unlike a covalent bond where electrons are shared, hydrogen bonding involves the attraction between positively and negatively charged regions of atoms.

Types Of Hydrogen Bond

There are two categories of hydrogen bonds, which are:

Intramolecular hydrogen bonds 

Intramolecular hydrogen bonds are formed within a single molecule when two functional groups within that molecule are arranged in a manner that allows them to attract each other mutually.

Intermolecular hydrogen bonds 

Intermolecular hydrogen bonds are established between atoms of separate molecules. These bonds arise when one molecule possesses a hydrogen atom with a partial positive charge while the other contains an atom with a partial negative charge.

Also See: Heat Transfer By Conduction – Meaning, Types, Difference Between Conduction And Convection, And 7 Examples Of Conduction

 Examples Of Hydrogen Bonds

  1. Water (H2O)

    A water molecule consists of an oxygen atom, which is highly electronegative, bonded to a hydrogen atom. The electrons in the shared pair are more strongly attracted to the oxygen atom, resulting in a negative charge at that end of the molecule. In contrast, the hydrogen atoms acquire a positive charge.

  2. Acetylacetone (C5H8O2)

    Acetylacetone (C5H8O2) exhibits intramolecular hydrogen bonding between hydrogen and oxygen within the molecule.

  3. Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)

    Hydrofluoric acid and formic acid form a type of hydrogen bond known as a symmetric hydrogen bond, which is stronger than the typical one.

  4. Ammonia (NH3)

    In ammonia, hydrogen bonds are created by the interaction between nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. Nitrogen, a highly electronegative element, forms these bonds by connecting with hydrogen atoms.

  5. Polymers

    Certain polymers that have carbonyl or amide functional groups can establish hydrogen bonds. This can be observed in urea, polyurethane, and natural cellulose. Hydrogen bonding in these molecules enhances their tensile strength and melting point.

  6. Alcohols

    Alcohols are considered organic compounds that feature at least one -OH group. Typically, when a molecule has a hydrogen atom connected directly to either oxygen or nitrogen, it tends to exhibit a propensity for forming hydrogen bonding.

  7. DNA

    Hydrogen bonds are established between the base pairs in DNA, which contributes to its characteristic double helix shape and enables the replication process. The hydrogen bonds facilitate the separation of the DNA strands by acting as a zipper, allowing them to “unzip” along these bonds.

    The bonding between the bases on neighbouring strands is essential for this mechanism. Due to their distinct structures, adenine forms hydrogen bonds with thymine, while guanine forms hydrogen bonds with cytosine.

  8. Proteins

    Hydrogen bonds are important in the folding and stability of proteins. They are essential for maintaining the structure of proteins at both the secondary and tertiary levels.

    Hydrogen bonds create and maintain important protein structures like alpha-helices and beta-sheets, which are commonly observed in protein architecture by forming between various segments of the polypeptide chain.

  9. Ice formation

    Hydrogen bonds are responsible for forming the lattice structure found in ice. These bonds cause water molecules to organize themselves in a predictable arrangement within solid ice. As a result, ice becomes less dense than liquid water, enabling it to remain buoyant and float.

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