Is NCl3 Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is NCl3 Polar or Nonpolar

NCl3 is a POLAR molecule.

But why? 

And how can you say that NCl3 is a polar molecule?

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

NCl3 is a POLAR molecule because it has a lone pair of electrons on the Nitrogen atom (N) which causes the entire molecule to bend.
This bending of NCl3 molecule results in asymmetric geometry, which makes the molecule polar.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of NCl3 lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

Why is NCl3 a Polar molecule? (Explained in 2 Steps)

To understand the polar nature of NCl3 molecule, first of all you should know its lewis structure as well as its molecular geometry.

So let’s see this in the steps below.

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of NCl3 lewis structure and it contains three N-Cl bonds.

Is NCl3 Polar or Nonpolar

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the NCl3 lewis dot structure, then visit this article: NCl3 lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the NCl3 molecule has three N-Cl bonds.

Now in the next step we have to check whether these three N-Cl bonds are polar or nonpolar.

And we also have to check the molecular geometry of NCl3.

Step #2: Check the bond polarity and molecular geometry

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]

Now let’s come to the example of NCl3 molecule. It has three N-Cl bonds.

You can see the electronegativity values of Nitrogen (N) and Chlorine (Cl) atoms from the periodic table given below.

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Nitrogen (N) = 3.04 [5]
  • Electronegativity of Chlorine (Cl) = 3.16 [6]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For N-Cl bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.16 – 3.04 = 0.12
This value is less than 0.4, which indicates that the bond between Nitrogen (N) and Chlorine (Cl) is nonpolar.
Hence, each N-Cl bond is a nonpolar covalent bond.

But wait, we also have to look at the molecular geometry of NCl3 to know whether it has a symmetric shape or not.

Have a look at this 3D structure of NCl3. The Nitrogen atom (N) is at the center and it is surrounded by 3 Chlorine atoms (Cl).

It also has one lone pair on the Nitrogen atom (N).

Is NCl3 Polar or Nonpolar

Due to the lone pair on the nitrogen atom (N), its molecular geometry becomes asymmetric.

Because of this, there are positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of NCl3.

Hence, the NCl3 molecule is a polar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the polar nature of NCl3 molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is SF2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is C2H4 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is XeF2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is ClF3 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is HF 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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