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Is tetrafluoromethane a polar molecule?

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Quick Answer

Tetrafluoromethane is a non-polar molecule because of its symmetric shape. In symmetric molecules, the dipole vectors cancel each other out, making the entire molecule non-polar.

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Tetrafluoromethane is also called carbon tetrafluoride, and is classified as both a haloalkane and a halomethane. It is a simple molecule that has one carbon atom in the middle that is bonded to four fluorine atoms around the outside. This molecule has properties that allow it to be used as a refrigerant, but it is most widely used in the manufacturing of electronics such as cell phones and computers. Heavy use of tetrafluoromethane is considered a threat to the environment because, in its gaseous form, it is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The tetrafluoromethane molecule itself is in the shape of a tetrahedron. A tetrahedron resembles a pyramid with a triangular base. The four fluorine atoms repel each other, making them equally spaced around the inner carbon atom. While there are certainly polar bonds within the tetrafluoromethane molecule, because the molecule tetrahedron shape is symmetrical, all of the dipole vectors cancel each other out. Because the dipole vectors cancel each other out, the net dipole of the entire molecule is zero, which makes tetrafluoromethane a non-polar molecule.

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