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In class, Lavelle said that the most stable structure for a sulfate ion is with two double bonds because the formal charge matched the given charge of the ion. If this is so, why wasn't the first structure we created (with only single bonds) as stable? Is it because the FC values for the two double bond structure were closer to 0, is it an experimental thing where in the lab this is just found to be the most stable? Help :)
You might be mixing up FC with the overall charge of the ion. I think he said when the formal charge equals 0, that's when it's most stable. In both lewis structures he drew of the sulfate ion, they both resulted in having the -2 charge of the ion. In the first structure with single bonds, each oxygen ion had a formal charge of -1. However, in the second structure he drew with the double bonds, the oxygen ions had a formal charge of 0, so this made it the more stable structure.
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