• The geometrical arrangement of the orbitals involved. A perhaps to simplistic way of looking at it is this. a sigma bond is formed when two orbitals can actually overlap. Picture two spheres (s orbitals) overlapping one another, that is a sigma bond. Picture two p orbitals bumping into one another head on, that is a sigma bond. There are a few other ways sigma bonds can be formed but those are the most common. In general, any single bond is a sigma bond. Now for pi bonds. These occur when two orbitals interact but generally they dont overlap. Picture two Py orbitals going up and down parallel to one another. They dont physically interact (that is, overlap) but they still interact at a distance. This forms a weaker type of interaction than a sigma bond. I am sure you have seen the diagrams for these types of bonds that show all the pretty pictures. Pi bonds are generally seen in double bonds and higher. In a double bond, one is a sigma and one is a pi bond. Let me know if you need some more explanation. How about delta bonds?!? I'm glad you didn't ask. Those are very difficult to explain without pictures.
  • 1-6-2017 You have to take chemistry classes for a year and a half before they try to teach you that stuff. Even then there is a lot of hand waving to explain it.

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