Polar Molecules




Predicting Molecular Polarity

When there are no polar bonds in a molecule, there is no permanent charge difference between one part of the molecule and another, and the molecule is nonpolar. For example, the Cl2 molecule has no polar bonds because the electron charge is identical on both atoms. It is therefore a nonpolar molecule. None of the bonds in hydrocarbon molecules, like hexane, C6H14, are significantly polar, so hydrocarbons are nonpolar molecular substances.

A molecule can possess polar bonds and still be nonpolar. If the polar bonds are evenly (or symmetrically) distributed, the bond dipoles cancel and do not create a molecular dipole. For example, the three bonds in a molecule of BF3 are significantly polar, but they are symmetrically arranged around the central fluorine atom. No side of the molecule has more negative or positive charge than another side, and so the molecule is nonpolar:

A water molecule is polar because (1) its O-H bonds are significantly polar, and (2) its bent geometry makes the distribution of those polar bonds asymmetrical. The side of the water molecule containing the more electronegative oxygen atom is partially negative, and the side of the molecule containing the less electronegative hydrogen atoms is partially positive.

Click here to see a Sample Study Sheet that summarizes this procedure.

Click here to see an example. 

Click here to see an exercise. 

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