Q:

What is the relationship between electronegativity and polarity?

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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:

    How does polarity affect solubility?

    A:

    Polar substances tend to dissolve well in other polar substances, but not nonpolar substances, while nonpolar substances dissolve well in nonpolar substances, but not polar substances. This concept is often referred to as "like dissolves like."

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    What is the difference between atoms and molecules?

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    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:

    What assumptions are included in Dalton's atomic theory?

    A:

    The atomic theory formulated by the British chemist John Dalton proposes that atoms are indivisible particles comprising all matter; atoms of the same element share identical properties, including shape, size and mass; atoms of an element are unique and vary from the atoms of different elements; atoms are the fundamental units of a chemical reaction; atoms are conserved and can neither be created nor destroyed; and atoms combine in simple, fixed proportions to produce compound atoms, known as molecules. Dalton is commonly referred to as the father of the modern atomic theory.

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