If we shot to calculate the oxidation state of nitrogen in \$ceN2O\$ utilizing the acquainted algebraic method, we obtain oxidation state \$+1\$ because that both nitrogen atoms and also that"s what I uncovered when ns looked it increase on the internet.

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I make the efforts to execute it v the structure and also that"s where I obtained confused:

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

The \$ceN=N\$ link is a coordinate bond, so the should give a \$-1\$ oxidation state for the left \$ceN\$ and also \$+1\$ because that the center one. Since the middle one has a dual bond with oxygen, the gets additional \$+2\$ for a total of \$+3.\$

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

The left \$ceN\$ is obtaining an oxidation state of \$0\$ and the center one gets \$+2.\$ So ns am confused regarding what is actually correct.

Is it feasible for atom to exist in superpositions of oxidation states? Or probably I to be overlooking some straightforward concept?

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edited jan 29 at 8:48

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If we shot to calculation the oxidation state the nitrogen in \$ceN2O\$ using the familiar algebraic method, we gain oxidation state \$+1\$ because that both nitrogen atoms and that"s what I found when ns looked it up on the internet.

Well … you get an average oxidation state. This calculation maybe implicitly assumes the all nitrogen atom be equivalent. In some situations (e.g. Hydrazine) castle are and the an outcome you acquire algebraicly is as you would intend from a Lewis depiction. In other cases (e.g. Here) this is not the situation as the nitrogens space not indistinguishable (only one is bound come oxygen). Thus, the is noticeable that a straightforward algebraic method should fail.

But what around the ‘real’ result? What about the resonance structures? Well, this is wherein things acquire really difficult. You basically have two π equipment orthogonal to every other and also each lived in by 4 electrons which have the right to manifest together a lone pair on either end and also a many bond to the other atom. If friend really want to play the game, you might include one more resonance framework as shown below, whereby 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 the this 3rd resonance structure contributes least to the overall picture as it has actually a greater charge separation and charges space separated opposite to what electronegativity would predict.)

The experimental structure reflects that the \$ceN-N\$ street is slightly much shorter than the \$ceN-O\$ distance which one might use come assume that the \$ceN-N\$ bond have actually a slightly larger bond order than the \$ceN-O\$ bond. However ultimately, they space still very similar (the difference is merely \$pu4pm\$) so same bond order might additionally be one option. Lengthy story short: quick of calculating the electronic distribution (i.e. Resolving the Schrödinger equation) girlfriend won’t have the ability to arrive in ~ a identify answer because that the ‘real’ oxidation states.

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So what can you perform on paper? compare the resonance structures, the leftmost as I have actually ordered castle is slightly better than the central one as the official charges are dispersed according come the various electronegativities. Thus, I would certainly be skinny to provide it a slightly higher weight and also – in a classroom setting – usage it to recognize oxidation states. That said, the is too lot of one ambiguous instance to it is in seriously provided in any type of examination uneven the score of stated examination is to develop the chain of debates that formed this answer.