Linus Carl Pauling's Contribution to Modern Structural Chemistry


The desire of people to understand the theories and principles in various disciplines have triggered several discoveries. For instance, research and analysis have enabled human beings to understand the principles of life. In this case, education has gained value, spreading rapidly over the world. For example, science has witnessed numerous discoveries due to the determination of scientists to establish and explain nature and its forces. As a result, solutions to most of the issues affecting humanity have been provided, and many people have gained scientific knowledge. In addition, research has become a lucrative field and has attracted a lot of people. Most of the details gathered during the research are included in the curriculum to foster the understanding of the learners. Similarly, new ideologies are established through research, while the existing principles are elaborated. For instance, prominent researchers and scientists are still remembered and celebrated due to their contributions and achievements in different disciplines. Medicine and education are the sectors that have realised remarkable growth and development owing the efforts of scientists and researchers. For instance, new medicines to diseases have been discovered making life comfortable since some of the deadly diseases can now be managed. On the same note, education has received a boost through the explanation of theories and principles as well the development of new ideas through research. As a result, most countries have revised their syllabuses with an aim of including the new discoveries and findings. This paper analyses how the works of Linus Carl Pauling are applied in the modern structural chemistry. In addition, the paper examines the achievements of Carl Pauling.

Pauling’s Works and Their Application in Modern Structural Chemistry

Linus Pauling is a famous scientist whose works are of great significance and form a foundation of the modern structural chemistry. For instance, Pauling sought to explain the structure of compounds when he developed the theory of hybridisation. Through the theory, Pauling explained the structure of molecules and ions with the use of atomic orbitals taking in account the nature and behaviour of electrons ( 2015). For instance, structures of simple molecules of organic compounds like alkanes are explained with the use of the s and p orbitals. On the same note, the theory of hybridisation laid the primary reasoning on which modern structural chemistry was developed since organic compounds were analysed using the same concept.

Furthermore, modern structural chemistry approaches the bonding in organic compounds with respect to the carbon atoms, a concept that was established by Pauling in his theory of hybridisation that explains bonding with respect to one of the participating atoms only. Similarly, using the theory, the shapes of different molecules have been studied and identified since the theory accounted for the angles between bonds in elements. For instance, the study of structural chemistry becomes easy through the identification of molecular shape (Radenkovic, Gutman & Antic 2014). Likewise, the hybridisation scheme developed by Pauling was adopted by the chemistry department and, hence, compounds can be analysed with respect to the shape and coordination number. Therefore, the modern structural chemistry applies the theory of hybridisation established by Pauling in the examination of organic compounds and transition metals. Moreover, the theory fosters the understanding and determination of the shapes of molecules (Pauling & Kamb 2007).

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Similarly, Pauling’s description of the nature of the chemical bond is advancement in chemistry and, hence, contributes to the development of the modern structural chemistry. In the bid to establish the nature of chemical bonds, he defined and explained several bonds and forces that constitute chemical bonds (Shmaefsky 2009). Moreover, he discovered the idea of electronegativity that he used to explain how different bonds are formed. The bonds covered by Pauling were incorporated in the modern structural chemistry in order to enhance the understanding of the structure of compounds. For instance, his study observed the ionic bond, which is an example of a chemical bond that involves the loss and gain of electrons by atoms while bonding was first presented by Pauling. Through his detailed coverage of the chemical bonds, the modern structural chemistry is now able to explain how and why different atoms combine forming ionic compounds (Shmaefsky 2009).

Furthermore, the structures of compounds presented by the modern structural chemistry are a result of the identification of the bonds involved during the structure and bonding. Therefore, modern structural chemistry establishes and explains the properties of the resultant compounds. For instance, the modern structural chemistry uses Pauling’s concept of electronegativity to understand the difference between ionic and other bonds.

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Additionally, the modern structural chemistry uses Pauling’s description in the analysis of aromatic hydrocarbons. He defined aromatic hydrocarbons as the hydrocarbons that have both single and double bonds which alternate between the carbon atoms thereby producing rings. Modern structural chemistry builds on Pauling’s idea when explaining esters and esterification. Furthermore, the benzene ring model that was analysed by Pauling is used in the modern structural chemistry in the study of aryl hydrocarbons, arene synthesis, and reactions as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Martini 2014). In this case, the modern structural chemistry identifies the representative arene compounds and their structures through the application of Pauling’s ideas concerning the aryl hydrocarbons.

Equally, Pauling’s research and findings dealing with quantum chemistry and electron configuration are important since through them, an updated and more reliable periodic table has been developed. The modern structural chemistry applies Pauling’s knowledge on quantum chemistry for periodic table development and identification of elements. Additionally, knowledge of quantum mechanics is utilised by the chemistry department while dealing with electrons and electron energy. Using this knowledge, modern structural chemistry explains electron movement from one energy level to another. Similarly, with the understanding of the amount of energy possessed by electrons in different configurations, the modern structural chemistry establishes the significance of energy levels in bonding. On the same note, Pauling’s examination of the electron configuration is applied in the modern structural chemistry to foster the understanding of the periodic table (Kullen 2005). For instance, the modern structural chemistry describes chemical bonds with respect to the periodic table and electron configuration of elements. Likewise, the laws of quantum mechanics that have been identified by Pauling are still applicable and guide the electron study in the modern structural chemistry. Equally, the electron diffraction instrument constructed by Pauling is used in the modern structural chemistry to conduct the study of the structure of molecules.

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In his research, Pauling used an x-ray crystallography to identify the chemical bonds and crystalline shapes of compounds. He also came up with regulations that were considered during the removal of unwanted components and determination of the atomic sizes. Pauling’s discoveries are still relevant since the modern structural chemistry continues using x-rays in the study of chemical bonds, size and shape of the atoms and compounds. On the same note, the rules developed by Pauling are used in modern structural chemistry while using x-ray crystallography (Anslyn & Dougherty 2006). Hence, Pauling’s discovery of the use of x-rays in structural chemistry was a major step in the understanding of the subject. For this reason, the modern structural chemistry incorporates x-ray crystallographic studies to foster the understanding of the crystalline structures. As a result, several types of bonding have been noticed in inorganic compounds contributing to the study of inorganic compounds. In addition, x-ray crystallography influenced the establishment of supramolecular chemistry covered by the modern structural chemistry (Oxtoby, Gillis & Butler 2015).

On the same note, the journal published by Pauling about Sickle Cell Anaemia, sought to prove that the disease was a molecular disease that emerged due to the presence of abnormal proteins in the body. For instance, with the use of electrophoresis, Pauling concluded that sickle cell victims had different shapes of hemoglobin. The publication and the revelations of the disease led to the development of structural chemistry in order to identify the form of molecules. As a result, in modern structural chemistry, electrophoresis is used in the study of molecules and determination of molecular shape. Likewise, the application of Pauling’s research on biological molecules has enabled the modern structural chemistry to improve the methods used for the determination of the structures and forms of molecules. Thus, several medical advancements have been made due to the use of methods proposed by Pauling in the modern structural chemistry (Xu, Pang & Huo 2011). Equally, his research on the structure of the atomic nucleus is also applied in the modern structural chemistry. It managed to give an explanation as to why the nucleus is referred to as a cluster of nucleons. Pauling’s approach is used in the modern structural chemistry to prove theories and principles in the study of atomic nucleus.

Today, the study of structural chemistry has been simplified due to the use of simple formulas and equations. This is because of the concept of resonance that was defined by Pauling is the representation of a molecular structure in two or more ways. The modern structural chemistry capitalises on the idea of resonance by providing conventional formulae of compounds making the concepts and principles easily understood. By explaining that structures should contribute equally in their real state depending on the energy of the mutual atoms for resonance hybrid to be achieved, modern structural chemistry borrows the ideas of Pauling. By doing so, the modern chemistry establishes that molecules and ions cannot individually stand on their own, thus, there is a need for them to be hybridised. Similarly, the modern structural chemistry uses Pauling’s electronegativity scale in the determination of chemical bonds (Anslyn & Dougherty 2006). The use of electronegativity concept and scale in modern chemistry indicates that halogens and most of the non-metals are electronegative. Furthermore, modern structural chemistry distinguishes acids and fromalkalines by the use of electronegativity values developed by Pauling.

In the same way, the modern structural chemistry applies Pauling’s definition of covalent bond. He defined a covalent bond as a bond characterised by the sharing of valence electrons amongst the participating atoms. Through that, the structures of compounds are established. Modern structural chemistry has borrowed the definition and uses it to establish the features and properties of covalent bonds as well as covalent compounds. Likewise, the metallic bond is applied in the modern structural chemistry to examine the crystalline nature and strength of metals. In the same way, the conductivity of metals is determined with respect to the strength of the metallic bond in the modern structural chemistry, where it is argued that the conductivity of a metal depends on the quantity of delocalised electrons. The modern structural chemistry analyses polar molecules with consideration to the explanation given by Pauling regarding the hydrogen bond. Polar molecules have a very high electron affinity and, hence, they easily attract electrons. As a result, in modern chemistry, the hydrogen bond is portrayed as a link between molecules whose electric charges are scattered. The explanation is purely a replica of what Pauling had presented.

Achievements of Linus Pauling

Linus Pauling is widely recognised due to his success and achievements in the several fields he ventured. In addition, his contributions were a major step to the understanding of science. As an activist, he played a role in the realisation of peace in the world. First and foremost, his outstanding contributions in chemistry earned him a Nobel Prize in 1954 (Okuyama & Maskill 2013). The prize was an appreciation of his profound research of the nature of chemical bonds and the effective clarification of the structures of substances. Pauling dedicated his life to research and managed to establish, define and differentiate chemical bonds. His research was significant since it helped other scientists all over the world get the knowledge on how compounds are formed. On the same note, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his fight against the use of nuclear weapons. The prize was the recognition of his activism and involvement in humanitarian activities. In such a way, Pauling is the only human being to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes.

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Secondly, Pauling was successful in his attempts to explain the causes of Sickle Cell Anaemia. For instance, his research on Sickle Cell Anaemia enabled medical departments to dig their toes into the disease with an aim of finding ways of solving the problem. On that note, Pauling was awarded several different prizes both internal and external as an appreciation for his determination to find solution to the world’s challenges (Batsanov & Batsanov 2012). On the other hand, the world recognised Pauling’s efforts in the bid to ensure peace over the world. He strongly opposed the idea of involving the use of firearms while solving conflicts. For the same reasons, he received peace awards including the Gandhi Peace Price. Today, Pauling’s achievements are still valid and significant (Okuyama & Maskill 2013).

Thirdly, Pauling was successful in his research on biological molecules where he established the structure of proteins. The findings are still referred to in the modern structural chemistry and medicine. With respect to his ability to think critically and conduct research on the biological molecules, Pauling was awarded the Pasteur Medal by the Biochemical Society of France in 1952 (Ucko 2013). Similarly, he carried a thorough research on the structure of the atomic nucleus that enabled him to publish the model of the atomic nucleus. As a result, he was honoured and won the Linus Pauling Award in 1966 (Ucko 2013). By the end of his life, Pauling had gathered very many awards in all fields that he identified with. His efforts and dedication inspired the world and he was called one of the world’s best scientists.

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Science becomes interesting and fascinating when the contributions and discoveries made by the researchers are taken into account. Furthermore, taking interest in the scientists motivates other people to venture into the field and find out more discoveries and theories that seek to demystify the subject. It is evident that Pauling’s works are applied in the modern structural chemistry. In such a way, modern structural chemistry relies on the research, findings, principles and theories that were established by Pauling. Similarly, the modern structural chemistry seeks to prove some of the theories and principles in science as stated by Pauling. It is important to note that the works of Pauling changed the world’s perception of science since most of the things that were considered to lack basis were precisely explained in his works. On the same note, his research in biology greatly contributed to the field of medicine since the findings provided an insight on biological disorders and diseases. For instance, the research he conducted on Sickle Cell Anaemia enabled the world to device possible ways to manage the disease. In addition, Pauling’s works paved way for further research in different fields to make more revelations and discoveries. The application of Pauling’s works in the modern structural chemistry enhanced people’s knowledge in different fields and sped up the growth of chemical engineering.

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