Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Polarity of a molecule

  1. Nov 8, 2014 #1

    I know what are the steps to determine if a molecule is polar or not, but I'm having one small problem. When I have determined teh geometrical shape of my molecule and drew the vectors of the polar bonds that goes from the least electronegative atom to the most electronegative atom, how exactly do I add these vectors? I know that if the sum of my vectors give 0, I have a non polar molecule and if it doesn't then it's polar. But for some easy geometrical shapes I can easily add them, and for some others I don't know. For example, I may know from the beginning that the molecule is non polar because its lewis structure is symmetrical, but when it's time to show it using vectors, for some reason, i'm not able to do it. If I had the sp^3 shape (tetrahedron), and I know that the 4 vectors must give 0, this is where I get stuck.
    Anyway, I need help! Thank you again.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2014 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  4. Nov 8, 2014 #3
    Well, I know how to add vectors but only if they're 2d....
  5. Nov 8, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Well, you start adding the first and the second, the sum vector lying in the plane spanned by the two vectors. So the problem reduces to the two dimensional case.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook