- Homolytic cleavage is the cleavage in which a covalent bond breaks in such a way that each atom takes away one electron of the shared pair. Homolytic cleavage results in the generation of free radicals, which are neutral species (atoms or groups) which contain an unpaired electron. Homolytic cleavage can be represented as follows
This cleavage often takes place in non-polar bonds and is favoured by high temperature, ultraviolet radiations and by the presence of radical initiators such as peroxides.
- Heterolytic cleavage is the cleavage in which a covalent bond breaks in such a way that both electrons of the covalent bond are taken away by one of the bonded atoms. It results in the generation of charges species - carbocations and anions or carbanions and cations. It can be represented as follows
This type of cleavage usually occurs in polar covalent compounds and is favoured by polar solvents.