Hydrogen bonds in water and ice

What is a hydrogen bond?

In chemistry, a hydrogen bond is a type of attractive intermolecular force that exists between two partial electric charges of opposite polarity. Although stronger than most other intermolecular forces, the hydrogen bond is much weaker than both the ionic bond and the covalent bond. See: What are hydrogen bonds for a more complete explanation.

The Case of H2O

Water can exist as a solid (ice), liquid (water liquid), or gas (water vapor). The basic molecular formula for the water molecule is the same in each H2O. But, as the temperature of the system changes the hydrogen bonds between water molecules change drastically.


Two water molecules showing their hydrogen bond. For more details see: the water dimer.

Hydrogen bonds in Ice

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Hydrogen bonds in ice shown in green

O-O distance in ice = 2.76 A

HO hydrogen bond distance in ice is = 1.76 A

Check these numbers out

Remember Jsmol uses nanometers not Angstroms (10 A = 1 nm)

1) Stop spin

2)Double click on one atom

3)Drag mouse then double click on 2nd atom

Hydrogen bonds in ice tetrahedron structure

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Ice Tetrahedron Structure

What is the measure of the angle formed from O-O-O? Measure by double clicking first O- single click middle O and double click second O.


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To read about this angle in the tetrahedron see: The Tetrahedron

Hydrogen Bonds in Water

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------>space fill/cpk -------->stick ----> ball-and-stick


Jsmol file of water in a 10Angstrom box.