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ZingPath: Molecular Structure

Molecular Polarity

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Molecular Structure

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Lesson Focus

Molecular Polarity


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You get to explore the structure of molecules to understand molecular geometry and master the concept of polarity. Then use that knowledge to help separate mixtures back into pure substances.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Understand the concept of a polar molecule.
  • Understand that molecular polarity depends on both bond polarity and the arrangement of bonds.

Everything You'll Have Covered

What two key factors play the pivotal role in determining whether a molecule is polar or nonpolar?

~ The two key factors that play the pivotal role in determining whether a molecule is polar or nonpolar are the polarity of its bonds and net charge distribution.

Why is methane a nonpolar molecule even though it has four polar bonds?

~ Though it does have polar bonds, methane is a nonpolar molecule because its regular tetrahedron shape leads to a symmetrical distribution of the molecules partial charges. As a result, there is no net charge distributed over the whole molecule, which makes methane a non-polar molecule.

Why are water molecules polar molecules?

~ Water molecules are polar molecules because they have a zigzag (or bent) shape that does not allow for the symmetrical distribution of partial charges.

Why is phosphine a nonpolar molecule even though it has asymmetrical bonds?

~ Phosphine is a nonpolar molecule because it has almost no electronegativity difference between its phosphorous and hydrogen atoms, which means that the bonds between its atoms are nonpolar. This, in turn, means that there is no net charge distribution over the molecule, making it nonpolar

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should have an intellectual grasp on the following terms: bent, bond, and charge distribution.
Course Chemistry
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary bent, bond, charge distribution