Q:

What is the relationship between electronegativity and polarity?

A:

Quick Answer

Electronegativity in atoms causally relates to polarity in molecules, as different electronegativities in different components of an asymmetrical molecule cause that molecule to be polar. However, electronegativity differences that are too great lead not to polar molecules, but to ionic bonds. Electronegativity differences also do not lead to polar molecules when they are fully symmetrical because the charges are balanced.

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Full Answer

Polar molecules occur when one side of the molecules receives a greater share of the shared electron charges than the other. One common example is the water molecule. Oxygen has a stronger electronegativity than hydrogen, and the two hydrogen atoms are bonded at an angle less than 180 degrees to the oxygen atom. This creates an asymmetrical molecule with a greater net electron charge on the oxygen side. Another common molecule, carbon dioxide, is not polar, despite several similarities.

Carbon dioxide is composed of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon has a similar electronegativity to hydrogen, so both oxygen atoms receive a greater share of the shared electron charges than the carbon. However, the oxygen molecules are bonded on exactly opposite sides of the carbon atom, at 180 degrees, so their greater charges cancel each other, and the molecule as a whole is not polar.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What determines the degree of polarity in a bond?

    A:

    The polarity of a bond is determined by the electronegativity of the atoms bonded. If the difference between the electronegativity values for both atoms is small enough to prevent an ionic bond but large enough to be significantly different, a polar covalent bond is formed.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between atoms and molecules?

    A:

    Atoms and molecules both make up matter in the universe, but atoms make up molecules. In order to form molecules, atoms form bonds.

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  • Q:

    Why do elements give off color when heated?

    A:

    When heated or exposed to electricity, the electrons in atoms of a given element gain energy and move to a higher energy level or orbit; they do not maintain this position but re-emit the energy as light of a specific wavelength, generating color. For elements in a solid or liquid state, this light generally appears as a rainbow while elements in a gaseous state reveal their atomic emission spectra, the specific bands of color produced by that elements particular electron configuration.

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  • Q:

    What is a polar covalent compound?

    A:

    Polar covalent compounds are compounds in which the electrons are not shared equally between the atoms of the molecule. Differences in electronegativity between elements account for the unequal sharing of electrons in compounds.

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