sp² Hybridization

The valence orbitals of a central atom surrounded by three regions of electron density consist of a set of three sp2 hybrid orbitals and one unhybridized p orbital. This arrangement results from sp2 hybridization, the mixing of one s orbital and two p orbitals to produce three identical hybrid orbitals oriented in a trigonal planar geometry.

For a more correct depiction of sp2 hybridization please check out: Link

Although quantum mechanics yields the “plump” orbital lobes, sometimes for clarity these orbitals are drawn thinner and without the minor lobes, as in the figure below, to avoid obscuring other features of a given illustration. We will use these “thinner” representations whenever the true view is too crowded to easily visualize.

This alternate way of drawing the trigonal planar sp2 hybrid orbitals is sometimes used in more crowded figures.

The observed structure of the borane molecule, BH3, suggests sp2 hybridization for boron in this compound. The molecule is trigonal planar, and the boron atom is involved in three bonds to hydrogen atoms (Figure 2, below). We can illustrate the comparison of orbitals and electron distribution in an isolated boron atom and in the bonded atom in BH3 as shown in the orbital energy level diagram in Figure 3. We redistribute the three valence electrons of the boron atom in the three sp2 hybrid orbitals, and each boron electron pairs with a hydrogen electron when B–H bonds form.

BH3 is an electron-deficient molecule with a trigonal planar structure.
In an isolated B atom, there are one 2s and three 2p valence orbitals. When boron is in a molecule with three regions of electron density, three of the orbitals hybridize and create a set of three sp2 orbitals and one unhybridized 2p orbital. The three half-filled hybrid orbitals each overlap with an orbital from a hydrogen atom to form three σ bonds in BH3.

Any central atom surrounded by three regions of electron density will exhibit sp2 hybridization. This includes molecules with a lone pair on the central atom, such as ClNO, or molecules with two single bonds and a double bond connected to the central atom, as in formaldehyde, CH2O, and ethene, H2CCH2.

The central atom(s) in each of the structures shown contain three regions of electron density and are sp2 hybridized. As we know from the discussion of VSEPR theory, a region of electron density contains all of the electrons that point in one direction. A lone pair, an unpaired electron, a single bond, or a multiple bond would each count as one region of electron density.