# 7.12  Nitrogen exists as diatomic molecule and phosphorus as $\dpi{100} P_{4}$ . Why?

The nitrogen atom has small size and high electronegativity due to this nitrogen form $\dpi{100} p\pi -p\pi$ multiple bonds with itself and with other elements which have small size and high electronegativity (e.g., C, O). The elements which are heavier of this group do not form $\dpi{100} p\pi -p\pi$ bonds because their atomic orbitals are so large and diffuse that they cannot have effective overlapping. Thus, nitrogen exists as a diatomic molecule with a triple bond (one s and two p) between the two atoms. On the contrary, phosphorus has less the tendency to form pπ-pπ bonds and hence it exists in the form $P_{4}$.

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