If we shot to calculation the oxidation state that nitrogen in $ceN2O$ making use of the familiar algebraic method, we acquire oxidation state $+1$ because that both nitrogen atoms and also that"s what I discovered when ns looked it up on the internet.

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I do the efforts to do it v the structure and that"s wherein I obtained confused:

$$ceoverset-N=overset+N=O$$

The $ceN=N$ link is a coordinate bond, so the should provide a $-1$ oxidation state because that the left $ceN$ and also $+1$ because that the center one. Because the middle one has a dual bond v oxygen, that gets extr $+2$ because that a complete of $+3.$

But if I consider this resonance structure:

$$ceN#overset+N-overset-O$$

The left $ceN$ is gaining an oxidation state of $0$ and also the center one gets $+2.$ So i am confused regarding what is in reality correct.

Is it feasible for atoms to exist in superpositions of oxidation states? Or maybe I to be overlooking some simple concept?


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If we try to calculation the oxidation state the nitrogen in $ceN2O$ making use of the familiar algebraic method, we obtain oxidation state $+1$ because that both nitrogen atoms and that"s what I discovered when ns looked it increase on the internet.

Well … you obtain an average oxidation state. This calculation may be implicitly assumes that all nitrogen atoms be equivalent. In some instances (e.g. Hydrazine) they are and the an outcome you obtain algebraicly is as you would expect from a Lewis depiction. In other instances (e.g. Here) this is not the instance as the nitrogens room not equivalent (only one is bound come oxygen). Thus, that is obvious that a basic algebraic approach should fail.

But what about the ‘real’ result? What about the resonance structures? Well, this is whereby things acquire really difficult. You basically have two π systems orthogonal to every other and each lived in by four electrons which can manifest as a lone pair on either end and also a multiple bond come the various other atom. If friend really want to pat the game, you can include one more resonance structure as displayed below, wherein all π lone pairs are centred ~ above the terminal nitrogen:

$$ceN#overset+N-overset-O overset-N=overset+N=O overset2-N-overset+N#overset+O$$

(It is clear that this 3rd resonance structure contributes least to the overall photo as it has a higher charge separation and also charges room separated opposite to what electronegativity would certainly predict.)

The speculative structure reflects that the $ceN-N$ distance is slightly much shorter than the $ceN-O$ street which one can use come assume that the $ceN-N$ bond have a slightly larger bond order 보다 the $ceN-O$ bond. However ultimately, they room still very comparable (the difference is merely $pu4pm$) so same bond orders might likewise be one option. Lengthy story short: short of calculating the electronic circulation (i.e. Resolving the Schrödinger equation) you won’t be able to arrive at a definite answer for the ‘real’ oxidation states.

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So what can you execute on paper? comparing the resonance structures, the leftmost together I have actually ordered lock is slightly far better than the main one as the officially charges are spread according to the various electronegativities. Thus, I would be skinny to offer it a slightly greater weight and – in a classroom setup – use it to identify oxidation states. The said, the is too lot of one ambiguous instance to it is in seriously used in any type of examination uneven the score of said examination is to construct the chain of debates that developed this answer.