Phi bond


In chemistry, phi bonds (φ bonds) are covalent chemical bonds, where six lobes of one involved atomic orbital overlap six lobes of the other involved atomic orbital. This overlap leads to the formation of a bonding molecular orbital with three nodal planes which contain the internuclear axis and go through both atoms.

Suitably-aligned f atomic orbitals can overlap to form a φ molecular orbital (a φ bond)

The Greek letter φ in their name refers to f orbitals, since the orbital symmetry of the φ bond is the same as that of the usual (6-lobed) type of f orbital when seen down the bond axis.

There was one possible candidate known in 2005 of a molecule with phi bonding (a U−U bond, in the molecule U2).[1] However, later studies that accounted for spin orbit interactions found that the bonding was only of fourth order.[2][3][4] As of 2020, no molecules are known to certainly have phi bonds.


  1. ^ Gagliardi, Laura; Roos, Björn O. (2005). "Quantum chemical calculations show that the uranium molecule U2 has a quintuple bond". Nature. 433 (7028): 848–851. Bibcode:2005Natur.433..848G. doi:10.1038/nature03249. PMID 15729337. S2CID 421380.
  2. ^ T. A. Manz (2017). "Introducing DDEC6 atomic population analysis: part 3. Comprehensive method to compute bond orders". RSC Adv. 7 (72): 45552–45581. Bibcode:2017RSCAd...745552M. doi:10.1039/c7ra07400j.
  3. ^ "The diuranium molecule has a quadruple bond". Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  4. ^ Knecht, Stefan; Jensen, Hans Jørgen Aa; Saue, Trond (January 2019). "Relativistic quantum chemical calculations show that the uranium molecule U 2 has a quadruple bond". Nature Chemistry. 11 (1): 40–44. doi:10.1038/s41557-018-0158-9. ISSN 1755-4349. PMID 30374039. S2CID 53112083.