Is SeCl4 Polar or Nonpolar? (And Why?)

Is SeCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

SeCl4 is a POLAR molecule.

But why? 

And how can you say that SeCl4 is a polar molecule?

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

SeCl4 is a POLAR molecule because the Chlorine (Cl) present in the molecule is more electronegative, which causes the partial positive (ẟ+) and partial negative (ẟ-) charge to appear on the molecule. These ẟ+ and ẟ- charges are responsible to make the entire SeCl4 molecule polar.

Let me explain this in detail with the help of SeCl4 lewis structure and its 3D geometry.

Why is SeCl4 a Polar molecule? (Explained in 3 Steps)

SeCl4 is a polar molecule because it has poles of partial positive charge (ẟ+) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) on it.

Let me explain this to you in 3 steps!

Step #1: Draw the lewis structure

Here is a skeleton of SeCl4 lewis structure and it contains four Se-Cl bonds.

Is SeCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

(Note: If you want to know the steps of drawing the SeCl4 lewis dot structure, then visit this article: SeCl4 lewis structure, Or you can also watch this short 2 minute video).

So from the above diagram we have come to know that the SeCl4 molecule has four Se-Cl bonds.

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

And we also have to check the molecular geometry of SeCl4.

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 SeCl4 molecule. It has four Se-Cl bonds.

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

From the above image;

  • Electronegativity of Selenium (Se) = 2.55 [6]
  • Electronegativity of Chlorine (Cl) = 3.16 [7]

Now let’s see the polarity of each bond.

For Se-Cl bond;
The electronegativity difference (ΔEN) = 3.16 – 2.55 = 0.61
This value lies between 0.4 to 1.7, which indicates that the bond between Selenium (Se) and Chlorine (Cl) is polar.
Hence, the Se-Cl bond is a polar covalent bond.

Is SeCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

You can see in the above image that because of higher electronegativity of Chlorine atom, the partial positive charge (ẟ+) appears on the Selenium atom (Se) and partial negative charge (ẟ-) appears on the Chlorine atoms (Cl).

But wait, we also have to look at the molecular geometry of SeCl4 to know whether it has a symmetric shape or not.

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

Have a look at this 3D structure of SeCl4. The Selenium atom (Se) is at the center and it is surrounded by 4 Chlorine atoms (Cl).

It also has one lone pair on the Selenium atom (Se).

Is SeCl4 Polar or Nonpolar

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

Because of this, there are positive and negative poles of charges on the overall molecule of SeCl4.

Hence, the SeCl4 molecule is a polar molecule.

I hope you have understood the reason behind the polar nature of SeCl4 molecule.

See the polarity of other molecules to make your concepts clear:
Is H2Te Polar or Nonpolar?
Is NH3 (Ammonia) Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CO2 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CCl4 Polar or Nonpolar?
Is CH4 (Methane) 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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