How to Define a Pi Bond in Chemistry

A graphic showing a pi bond

JoJan / Wikimedia Commons / CCA-SA 3.0

A pi bond (π bond) is a covalent bond formed between two neighboring atom's unbonded p-orbitals.

An unbound p-orbital electron in one atom forms an electron pair with a neighboring atom's unbound, parallel p-orbital electron. This electron pair forms the pi bond.

Double and triple bonds between atoms are usually made up of a single sigma bond and one or two pi bonds. Pi bonds are generally denoted by the Greek letter π, in reference to the p orbital. The symmetry of a pi bond is the same as that of the p orbital as viewed down the bond axis. Note d orbitals also form pi bonds. This behavior is the basis of metal-metal multiple bonding.