Bond Length Definition in Chemistry

What Is Bond Length?

Abstract molecules


In chemistry, bond length is the equilibrium distance between the nuclei of two groups or atoms that are bonded to each other. Bond length is a property of a chemical bond between types of atoms. Bonds vary between atoms depending on the molecule that contains them. For example the carbon-hydrogen bond is different in methyl chloride as is methane. When more electrons participate in a bond, it tends to be shorter. Bond lengths in solids are measured using x-ray diffraction. In gases, length may be approximated using microwave spectroscopy.

Example Bond Lengths

Bond lengths are measured in picometers (pm). Example lengths for carbon include:

  • C-H single bond: 106-112 pm
  • C-C single bond: 120-154 pm
  • C-Te single bond: 205 pm

The trend follows that of atomic radius. Bond distances increasing moving down a group of the periodic table and decrease moving across a row or period.


  • Huntley D. R.; Markopoulos G.; Donovan P. M.; Scott L. T.; Hoffmann R. (2005). "Squeezing C–C Bonds." Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 44 (46): 7549–7553. doi:10.1002/anie.200502721
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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Bond Length Definition in Chemistry." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 29). Bond Length Definition in Chemistry. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Bond Length Definition in Chemistry." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 11, 2021).