What is Catenation? Definition, Examples, Element Behavior

By Raj Vimal|Updated : June 30th, 2022

Catenation is a property of a chemical element to form different types of bonds by joining other atoms of the same element. Mostly catenation property relates to carbon as it forms longer chains by creating covalent bonds with other carbon atoms. However, Carbon is not the only atom that has catenation properties. Some other elements like Hydrogen, Silicon, Boron Sulfer, and Phosphorous.

Atom’s electronic and steric factors play an important role in Catenation. Carbon is popular for Catenation as it easily catenates long open and closed chains. Whereas other elements barely create stronger bonds than Carbon due to their heavy size. We usually find that the amount of carbon is more than any other element because of the high catenation nature of carbon.

Catenation in Chemistry

The right catenation sequence is C>Si>Ge≈Sn. As we move down the group families, the bond’s strength gets less or decreases. That’s why the Catenation tendency decreases. Apart from the Carbon element, Hydrogen, silicon, and sulfur atoms are not enough to make bonds. As their atom's size is bigger than carbon atoms and it becomes difficult to form a bond with other atoms.


What is Catenation?

Catenation is binding an atom of an element to another atom of the same element with the help of single, double, or triple bonds. Carbon is so popular element for catenation, and due to this, it can create a long chain or series of their atoms.

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What is Catenation FAQs

  • It is a self-linking property of an atom to form bonds in long chains or rings. Many elements have this feature but the most popular one is Carbon. Due to the lightweight of Carbon elements, it creates single, double bonds, or sometimes even triple bonds. Apart from Carbon, Hydrogen, Sulfur, and Silicon are popularly known chemical elements for catenation.

  • Catenation is a feature of a chemical atom to form bonds with the other atoms of the same elements. Whereas, tetravalency is the feature of an atom to form 4 covalent bonds. Tetravalency is the feature that can be found in Carbon and Silicon elements only.


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