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Formal Charge of Nitrate (NO3-)

The nitrate ion (NO3) consists of a nitrogen (N) atom with five valence electrons and three oxygen (O) atoms, each having six valence electrons. Nitrogen shares a double covalent bond with one oxygen atom (O=N+) and two single covalent bonds (O-N+) with the remaining two oxygen atoms. Its molecular structure is shown below.

To find the formal charge of NO3, let us calculate the formal charges on the atoms.

Formal Charge of NO3-

Nitrogen

V = 5, N = 0, B = 8

Therefore,

qf = 5 – 0 – 8/2 = 1

The formal charge on N in NO3is 1.

Oxygen 1 and Oxygen 2

V = 6, N = 6, B = 2

Therefore,

qf = 6 – 6 – 2/2 = -1

The formal charge on two of the oxygen atoms in NO3is -1.

Oxygen 3

V = 6, N = 4, B = 4

qf = 6 – 4 – 4/2 = 0

The net formal charge is: -1 + (2 x -1) + 0 = -1

The formal charge of NO3 is -1.

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