Is NH3 a nonpolar or polar gas?

Ammonia is a colourless, pungent-smelling gas compound with the chemical formula NH3, which means it has three hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom.

It exists in the gaseous state at normal temperature and boils at -33 degrees Celsius. Many pupils have questions about whether ammonia is polar or nonpolar. In this post, I will respond to this question as well as discuss related themes.

Is NH3 polar or nonpolar, then? Because of its asymmetrical shape, i.e. trigonal pyramidal structure, and the disparity in electronegativities of N(3.04) and H(3.04), the NH3 (Ammonia) molecule is polar in nature (2.2). Because the charges on the nitrogen and hydrogen atoms are unequally distributed, NH3 (Ammonia) is a polar molecule with a net dipole moment.

Ammonia is a pungent-smelling gas that is produced by the breakdown of plant matter and nitrogenous animal faeces. Around 15% of the air in the atmosphere is in the form of ammonia gas.

Ammonia and ammonium salts can be detected in small amounts in rainfall during the rainy season.

Aside from our atmosphere, ammonia can be found on all of the planets in our solar system, including Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune. Jupiter is a massive planet with ammonia crystals covering its surface.

Our bodies contain ammonia as well. It’s important to understand that our kidneys release ammonia to balance the system by neutralising the excess acid in our bodies.

A patent from Germany In 1908, Fritz Haber used a Haber–Bosch process to create ammonia gas, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918. It was known to be a very useful nitrogen source.

Covalent chemical bonding are found in ammonia. Three hydrogen atoms create a covalent link with nitrogen.

In an NH3 molecule, the nitrogen atom possesses 5 valence electrons in its outermost shell, while hydrogen has only one.

What are Polar and Nonpolar Molecules?

Chemical compounds use many sorts of bonds to join their atoms and form molecules. Ionic, hydrogen, covalent, and metallic molecules are all made up of different sorts of bonds.

Ionic and covalent bonds are the two most prevalent and powerful types of bonding.

  1. Ionic bond: When two atoms with opposite charges join to create a molecule, an ionic link is produced.

Two oppositely charged atoms stabilise each other in this way. When there is a significant variation in electronegativities between two atoms, several sorts of bonding are used. In such bondings, the electrons are completely transferred.

  1. Covalent bond: When two or more atoms share electrons to stabilise each other, a covalent connection is established.

Depending on how many electrons are involved in the bond, it can be single, double, or triple. These linkages might be polar or nonpolar in nature.

When two atoms make a covalent link, their electron density changes as well. When two atoms forming a bond have an uneven charge distribution, the bond is said to be polar.

In this situation, one of the atoms gains a partial ionic charge.

This occurs more frequently when the electronegativity of the two atoms differs significantly.

As a result, partial ionic charge is formed, with one atom charged highly negative and the other charged highly positive.

The molecule created is known as a nonpolar molecule when the atoms form a covalent bond with symmetry and equal ionic charge on both atoms.

When the electronegativities of both atoms are the same, a non-polar connection is created.

Why is NH3 classified as a polar molecule?

Because the NH3 molecule possesses three dipoles due to three bonds, these dipoles do not cancel each other, it is a polar molecule. They combine to provide a net dipole moment.

Three hydrogen atoms form a covalent link in ammonia molecules by sharing three electrons between the nitrogen and hydrogen atoms, leaving one lone pair on the nitrogen atom.

The lone pair on the nitrogen atom exerts an outward strain on the bond, causing the structure of NH3 to become asymmetrical, according to VSEPR theory. This force on the bonds is caused by lone pair-bond pair repulsion.

Nitrogen has a computed electronegativity of 3.04, while hydrogen has a calculated electronegativity of 2.2. As a result of the disparity in electronegativities, the three N-H bonds produce three dipole moments in one direction.

The NH3 polar molecule is determined by the net dipole moment formed by the three dipoles in one direction.

Nitrogen, being more electronegative, pulls the electron pair slightly towards itself in the N-H bond, causing it to become somewhat negatively charged.

Ammonia gas is extremely soluble in water, creating ammonium ions, and it is important to remember that polar molecules interact more easily with other polar molecules.

Water is also a polar molecule, as we all know. As a result, ammonia and water are attracted to one other and easily combined.

It’s vital to note that, in addition to the polarity factor, they have an additional attraction booster known as hydrogen bonding.

Molecular Structure of NH3

Ammonia makes three bonds with hydrogen atoms, leaving a single lone pair on the nitrogen atom, as previously stated.

According to the VSEPR theory, the lone pair exerts a repulsive force on the three bond pairs N-H.

The NH3 molecule has a Trigonal Pyramidal form in its overall shape. The nitrogen atom is a central atom with asymmetric charge distribution, three bonds, and one lone pair, as described by the position of the atoms.

These N-H bonds form a tetrahedral structure. In the NH3 molecule, the bond angle between N and H is roughly 106.7 degrees.

The ammonia molecule has an sp3 hybridization.

For a better understanding, here is the Lewis structure of the Ammonia molecule. You should also read the NH3 Lewis Structure, Molecular Geometry, and Hybridization paper.

Factors that influence polarity

In a covalent molecule, if two atoms forming a link have differing electronegativities, they spread uneven charge on them, resulting in the bond’s polarity.

It’s also worth noting that the polarity of the bond is proportional to the difference in the electronegativities of both atoms.

The polarity of a link between two atoms is measured by the dipole moment. The formula is as follows:

Charge on atoms (Q)

R denotes the distance between atoms (bond length)

D is the dipole moment.

Q*r = D

The dipole moment of a molecule is calculated by multiplying the charge over the atoms by the distance between them.

The resultant dipole moment in NH3 is determined to be roughly 1.46D.

Because symmetrical compounds are nonpolar in nature, the molecular structure of a complete also shows its polarity. Molecules with a deformed or asymmetrical shape are more likely to be polar.

The dipole moments within symmetrically formed molecules are essentially cancelled out of each other. The dipole moment is a vector variable with both magnitude and direction.


The geometrical structure of ammonia is tetrahedral because it is an asymmetrical molecule with three hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen.

The electronegativity difference between nitrogen and hydrogen makes the N-H bond polar, and all of the N-H bond’s dipole moments add up to a net dipole moment for the Ammonia molecule, making it polar.

I tried to explain the polarity of ammonia to you in this essay. If you have any further queries, please post them in the comments area. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Read more: Lewis Structure, Molecular Geometry, Hybridization, and the MO Diagram are all examples of CO32.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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