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In chemistry, a hydrogen bond (or H-bond) is primarily an electrostatic force of attraction between a hydrogen (H) atom which is covalently bonded to a more electronegative "donor" atom or group (Dn), and another electronegative atom bearing a lone pair of electrons—the hydrogen bond acceptor (Ac). Such an interacting system is generally denoted Dn−H···Ac, where the solid line denotes a polar covalent bond, and the dotted or dashed line indicates the hydrogen bond. The most frequent donor and acceptor atoms are the period 2 elements nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), and fluorine (F).
Hydrogen bonds can be intermolecular (occurring between separate molecules) or intramolecular (occurring among parts of the same molecule). The energy of a hydrogen bond depends on the geometry, the environment, and the nature of the specific donor and acceptor atoms and can vary between 1 and 40 kcal/mol. This makes them somewhat stronger than a van der Waals interaction, and weaker than fully covalent or ionic bonds. This type of bond can occur in inorganic molecules such as water and in organic molecules like DNA and proteins. Hydrogen bonds are responsible for holding materials such as paper and felted wool together, and for causing separate sheets of paper to stick together after becoming wet and subsequently drying.
The hydrogen bond is also responsible for many of the physical and chemical properties of compounds of N, O, and F that seem unusual compared with other similar structures. In particular, intermolecular hydrogen bonding is responsible for the high boiling point of water (100 °C) compared to the other group-16 hydrides that have much weaker hydrogen bonds. Intramolecular hydrogen bonding is partly responsible for the secondary and tertiary structures of proteins and nucleic acids.
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