Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar

CF4 (Carbon tetrafluoride) is a NONPOLAR molecule.

But why? 

And how can you say that CF4 is a nonpolar molecule?

Want to know the reason?
Let’s dive into it!

CF4 (or Carbon tetrafluoride) is a NONPOLAR molecule because all the four bonds (C-F bonds) are identical and CF4 has symmetrical geometry which cancels out the bond polarity.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of CF4 lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

Why is CF4 a Nonpolar molecule? (Explained in 3 Steps)

CF4 is a nonpolar molecule because it does not have any pole of positive charge and negative charge on it.

Let me explain this to you in 3 steps!

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of CF4 lewis structure and it contains four C-F bonds.

Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the CF4 lewis dot structure, then visit this article: CF4 lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the CF4 molecule has four C-F bonds.

Now in the next step we have to check whether these four C-F bonds are polar or nonpolar.

Step #2: Check whether individual bonds are polar or nonpolar

The chemical bonds can be either nonpolar, polar or ionic depending on the difference of the electronegativity values (ΔEN) between the two atoms.

Have a look at the above image.

  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is less than 0.4, then the bond is nonpolar covalent bond.
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is between 0.4 to 1.7, then the bond is polar covalent bond. 
  • If the electronegativity difference (ΔEN) is greater than 1.7, then the bond is an ionic bond. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Now let’s come to the example of CF4 molecule. It has four C-F bonds.

You can see the electronegativity values of Carbon (C) and Fluorine (F) atoms from the periodic table given below.

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Carbon (C) = 2.55 [6]
  • Electronegativity of Fluorine (F) = 3.98 [7]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For C-F bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.98 – 2.55 = 1.43
This value lies between 0.4 to 1.7, which indicates that the bond between Carbon (C) and Fluorine (F) is polar.
Hence, each C-F bond is a polar covalent bond.

Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar

You can see in the above image that because of electronegativity difference, the partial positive charge (ẟ+) appears on the Carbon atom (C) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) appears on the Fluorine atoms (F).

But wait, this alone won’t tell you whether the entire CF4 molecule is polar or nonpolar.

So let’s proceed to the next step to check the symmetry of the CF4 molecule.

Step #3: Check whether the molecule is symmetric or not

Have a look at this 3D structure of CF4. You can see that the structure of CF4 is symmetrical. 

The carbon atom is at the center and it is surrounded by 4 fluorine atoms which are equidistant as well as at equal angles.

Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar

As all the four bonds (C-F) are symmetrical and the CF4 molecule has a symmetrical geometry, their bond polarity gets canceled with each other.

Because of this, there are no positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of CF4.

Hence, the CF4 molecule is a nonpolar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the nonpolar nature of CF4 molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is CH2Cl2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is N2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is O2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SF4 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is SO3 Polar or Nonpolar? 


Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. With a desire to make learning accessible for everyone, he founded Knords Learning, an online learning platform that provides students with easily understandable explanations.

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