If you’ve ever taken a chemistry class, you’ve probably come across Lewis dot structures. These diagrams provide a simple visual representation of the valence electrons in an atom or molecule. For many elements, drawing the Lewis dot structure is straightforward.

However, transition metals like nickel have some unique properties that make their dot structures more complex. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through step-by-step how to draw the Lewis dot structure for nickel.

Here’s a quick answer before we dive into the details: the Lewis dot structure for nickel is ‘Ni’ with two lone pairs of electrons above the symbol. Nickel has an electron configuration of ‘Ar’ 3d8 4s2 and tends to lose its two 4s electrons when forming compounds, leaving 10 valence electrons with the 3d and 4p orbitals empty.

Nickel Lewis Dot Structure Overview

The Nickel Lewis dot structure is a visual representation of the electron distribution in a nickel atom. It helps us understand the bonding and chemical behavior of nickel in various compounds. By following a set of rules and guidelines, we can accurately draw the Lewis dot structure for nickel.

Nickel’s Electron Configuration

Nickel has an atomic number of 28, which means it has 28 electrons. The electron configuration of nickel is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d8. This configuration tells us that the first shell (n=1) has 2 electrons, the second shell (n=2) has 8 electrons, and the third shell (n=3) has 18 electrons.

The 4s orbital is filled before the 3d orbital, which is why the electron configuration is not 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10. Understanding the electron configuration is essential for drawing the Lewis dot structure.

Steps to Draw the Nickel Lewis Dot Structure

  1. Write the symbol for nickel (Ni) in the center of your paper.
  2. Count the number of valence electrons for nickel. Valence electrons are the outermost electrons involved in bonding. Nickel is in Group 10 of the periodic table, so it has 10 valence electrons.
  3. Place two valence electrons (represented as dots) on each side of the nickel symbol.
  4. Add the remaining valence electrons one at a time, placing them on each side of the symbol until all 10 electrons are accounted for.
  5. If there are any remaining electrons, place them as lone pairs on the nickel atom.

The Lewis dot structure for nickel should show the two inner shells filled, with eight dots representing the 3d orbital and two dots representing the 4s orbital.

Formal Charge and Expanded Octet

Formal charge is a concept used to determine the distribution of electrons in a molecule or ion. In the case of nickel, the formal charge can help us determine if it is stable in a specific compound. To calculate the formal charge, subtract the number of lone pair electrons and half the number of shared electrons from the number of valence electrons.

Nickel can also form compounds where it exceeds the octet rule, known as an expanded octet. This means that nickel can have more than eight valence electrons in its outer shell. The expanded octet is observed in certain compounds such as nickel tetracarbonyl (Ni(CO)4).

For more detailed information on the Nickel Lewis Dot Structure, you can refer to Chemguide, a reliable source for chemistry-related topics.

How to Draw the Lewis Structure for Nickel

1. Determine the total number of valence electrons

To draw the Lewis structure for nickel, you first need to determine the total number of valence electrons it has. Valence electrons are the electrons in the outermost energy level of an atom and are involved in chemical bonding.

Nickel is in group 10 of the periodic table, so it has 2 valence electrons.

2. Draw a symbol for the nickel atom

The symbol for nickel is Ni. To draw the Lewis structure, write the symbol Ni in the center of the paper or whiteboard.

3. Place electrons around the symbol

Next, you need to place the valence electrons around the symbol. Since nickel has 2 valence electrons, place 2 dots around the symbol to represent these electrons.

4. Check the formal charge

Lastly, you should check the formal charge of the structure you have drawn. The formal charge is a way to determine if the Lewis structure is the most stable arrangement of electrons. To calculate the formal charge, subtract the number of electrons assigned to an atom in the Lewis structure from the number of valence electrons in the neutral atom.

The formal charge of each atom should sum up to the overall charge of the molecule or ion.

It is important to note that the Lewis structure for nickel can vary depending on the compound it is in. For example, in nickel chloride (NiCl2), nickel has a formal charge of 0, while in nickel oxide (NiO), nickel has a formal charge of +2.

For more detailed information and examples of Lewis structures for nickel, you can visit www.chemguide.co.uk.

Nickel Lewis Dot Structure Examples

Nickel Ion Lewis Dot Structure

The Lewis dot structure for the nickel ion (Ni2+) is one of the most basic dot structures to draw. Nickel, with an atomic number of 28, has the electron configuration [Ar] 4s2 3d8. To form the Ni2+ ion, nickel loses its two 4s electrons, leaving just the 3d and valence electrons.

Since the Ni2+ ion has a charge of +2, it has two fewer electrons than protons. The Lewis dot structure is drawn by placing dots for the 3d and valence electrons around the elemental symbol.

The Lewis dot structure for Ni2+ is simply:

Ni2+ Lewis Dot Structure

Ni2+:[Ar] 3d8

↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

Nickel Chloride Lewis Dot Structure

Nickel chloride is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NiCl2. To draw the Lewis dot structure for NiCl2, we must first draw the Lewis structure for the nickel (II) cation and the chlorine anion.

For the Ni2+ cation, the Lewis dot structure is the same as above:

Ni2+:[Ar] 3d8

↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

For the chloride anion (Cl), the Lewis electron dot diagram is:

Cl:[Ne] 3s2 3p6

To complete the Lewis structure, we combine the cation and anion structures and add brackets to indicate the ionic compound:

NiCl2 Lewis Dot Structure

[Ni2+:[Ar] 3d8] [Cl:[Ne] 3s2 3p6]

↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

This accurately depicts the bonding in the ionic compound nickel chloride according to the Lewis electron dot model.

Applications of Nickel Lewis Dot Structures

Predicting Molecular Geometry

One of the key applications of Nickel Lewis Dot Structures is in predicting the molecular geometry of nickel-containing compounds. By using the Lewis Dot structure, chemists can determine the arrangement of atoms and lone pairs around the nickel atom, which provides valuable insights into the three-dimensional shape of the molecule.

This information is crucial in understanding how the molecule will interact with other compounds and how it will behave in various chemical reactions.

Understanding Chemical Bonds

Nickel Lewis Dot Structures also play a significant role in understanding the chemical bonds formed by nickel. The Lewis Dot structure allows chemists to determine the number of valence electrons present in the nickel atom, which in turn helps in predicting the type of chemical bond that will form.

For example, if the nickel atom has a lone pair of electrons, it can form a coordinate covalent bond with another atom or molecule. Understanding these bonds is vital for studying the reactivity and properties of nickel compounds.

Oxidation States of Nickel

The Lewis Dot structure of nickel is also used to determine the oxidation states of nickel in different compounds. The number of valence electrons and their distribution around the nickel atom can help chemists identify the oxidation state of nickel, which is crucial in understanding the compound’s reactivity and stability.

For example, in a nickel(II) compound, the nickel atom has lost two electrons, resulting in a +2 oxidation state. Knowledge of the oxidation states is essential for studying the redox reactions involving nickel compounds.


In summary, drawing the Lewis dot structure for transition metals like nickel requires careful consideration of the valence electron configuration. While the basic nickel atom has a simple structure with two lone pairs, nickel commonly loses its 4s electrons when bonding, leaving an incomplete octet in its compounds.

The concepts covered here provide a strong foundation for predicting the structures and properties of nickel complexes and compounds.

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