Is carbon dioxide polar or nonpolar?


Quick Answer

Carbon dioxide is a non-polar molecule. It contains two polar bonds that are arranged symmetrically. This causes the bond polarities to cancel each other out.

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Full Answer

Carbon dioxide has a central carbon atom that has two oxygen atoms arranged at a 180 degree angle from each other, making it a linear molecule. Carbon forms a double bond with each oxygen atom. Since carbon and oxygen have different electronegativities, the electrons are not shared equally between the two atoms. Oxygen, with its higher electronegativity, pulls the bonded electrons closer to itself. Thus, each oxygen atom has a partial negative charge, and the carbon has a partial positive charge. However, due to the symmetrical, linear arrangement of the molecule, the individual bond polarities cancel each other out. This makes carbon dioxide a non-polar molecule.

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