What is the resonance structure of carbon dioxide?

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Feb 7, 2015

Carbon dioxide, or #"CO"_2#, has three resonance structures, out of which one is a major contributor.

The #"CO"_2# molecule has a total of 16 valence electrons - 4 from carbon and 6 from each oxygen atom.

Here are the three resonance structures for #"CO"_2#, all accounting for the 16 valence electrons


The atoms in all three resonance structures have full octets; however, structure 1 will be more stable, and thus contribute more, because it has no separation of charge.

Structures 2 and 3 show charge separation caused by the presence of formal charges on both oxygen atoms. Moreover, the presence of a positive charge on oxygen further reduces the stability of these two structures.

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