N2O4 Lewis Structure in 5 Steps (With Images)

N2O4 Lewis Structure

So you have seen the above image by now, right?

Let me explain the above image in short.

N2O4 lewis structure has two Nitrogen atoms (N) at the center which is surrounded by four Oxygen atoms (O). The two Oxygen atoms are double bonded while the other two Oxygen atoms are single bonded with the Nitrogen atom. There are 3 lone pairs on the single bonded Oxygen atoms (O) and 2 lone pairs on the double bonded Oxygen atoms (O).

If you haven’t understood anything from the above image of N2O4 lewis structure, then just stick with me and you will get the detailed step by step explanation on drawing a lewis structure of N2O4.

So let’s move to the steps of drawing the lewis structure of N2O4.

Steps of drawing N2O4 lewis structure

Step 1: Find the total valence electrons in N2O4 molecule

In order to find the total valence electrons in a N2O4 molecule, first of all you should know the valence electrons present in the nitrogen atom as well as oxygen atom.
(Valence electrons are the electrons that are present in the outermost orbit of any atom.)

Here, I’ll tell you how you can easily find the valence electrons of nitrogen as well as oxygen using a periodic table.

Total valence electrons in N2O4 molecule

→ Valence electrons given by nitrogen atom:

Nitrogen is a group 15 element on the periodic table. [1] Hence the valence electrons present in nitrogen is 5.

You can see the 5 valence electrons present in the nitrogen atom as shown in the above image.

→ Valence electrons given by oxygen atom:

Oxygen is group 16 element on the periodic table. [2] Hence the valence electrons present in oxygen is 6.

You can see the 6 valence electrons present in the oxygen atom as shown in the above image.


Total valence electrons in N2O4 molecule = valence electrons given by 2 nitrogen atoms + valence electrons given by 4 oxygen atoms = 5(2) + 6(4) = 34.

Step 2: Select the central atom

For selecting the center atom, you have to remember that the atom which is less electronegative remains at the center.

Now here the given molecule is N2O4 and it contains nitrogen atoms (N) and oxygen atom4 (O).

You can see the electronegativity values of nitrogen atom (N) and oxygen atom (O) in the above periodic table.

If we compare the electronegativity values of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) then the nitrogen atom is less electronegative.

So here, the nitrogen atoms (N) are the center atom and the oxygen atoms (O) are the outside atoms.

N2O4 step 1

Step 3: Connect each atoms by putting an electron pair between them

Now in the N2O4 molecule, you have to put the electron pairs between the two nitrogen (N) atoms and between the nitrogen (N) & oxygen (O) atoms.

N2O4 step 2

This indicates that these atoms are chemically bonded with each other in a N2O4 molecule.

Step 4: Make the outer atoms stable

Now in this step, you have to check the stability of the outer atoms.

Here in the sketch of N2O4 molecule, you can see that the outer atoms are oxygen atoms.

These outer oxygen atoms are forming an octet and hence they are stable. 

N2O4 step 3

Also, in step 1 we have calculated the total number of valence electrons present in the N2O4 molecule.

The N2O4 molecule has a total 34 valence electrons and all these valence electrons are used in the above sketch of N2O4.

Hence there are no remaining electron pairs to be kept on the central atom. 

So now let’s proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Check the octet on the central atom. If it does not have octet, then shift the lone pair to form a double bond or triple bond.

In this step, you have to check whether the nitrogen atoms (N) are stable or not.

In order to check the stability of the central nitrogen (N) atoms, we have to check whether they are forming an octet or not.

Unfortunately, the nitrogen atoms are not forming an octet here. Nitrogen has only 6 electrons and they are unstable.

N2O4 step 4

Now to make these nitrogen atoms stable, you have to shift the electron pairs from the outer oxygen atoms so that the nitrogen atoms can have 8 electrons (i.e octet).

N2O4 step 5

After shifting these electron pairs, the central nitrogen atoms will get 2 more electrons and thus their total electrons will become 8.

N2O4 step 6

You can see from the above picture that the nitrogen atoms are forming an octet as they have 8 electrons.

Hence, this is the most stable lewis structure of N2O4.

In the above lewis dot structure of N2O4, you can also represent each bonding electron pair (:) as a single bond (|). By doing so, you will get the following lewis structure of N2O4.

lewis structure of N2O4

I hope you have completely understood all the above steps.

For more practice and better understanding, you can try other lewis structures listed below.

Try (or at least See) these lewis structures for better understanding:

COF2 Lewis StructureSCl4 Lewis Structure
PBr5 Lewis StructureSiS2 Lewis Structure
OCS Lewis StructureBr3- Lewis Structure
About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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