Is SiH4 a polar or nonpolar substance?

Silane is an inorganic substance having the chemical formula SiH4 and is also known as silicon tetrahydride. It’s a hydride of group 14. It smells like acetic acid and has a strong, disagreeable odour. Silane is useful because it is a precursor to elemental silicon.

Many compounds with four silicon substituents, including organosilicon compounds, are called “silanes.”

The majority of pupils are unsure if silane is polar or non-polar. In this blog, I’ll provide straightforward answers to this topic as well as examine some polarity principles and the elements that influence it.

Is silane a covalent molecule that is polar or non-polar? In the next section, we’ll find out.

Because of its symmetrical structure, the SiH4 is nonpolar in nature, with four identical Si-H bonds cancelling out their dipole moments, resulting in a net dipole moment of zero. Despite the fact that the Si-H bond is polar due to their electronegativity differences, the net dipole moment of the entire molecule is zero, making SiH4 a nonpolar chemical.

That was a succinct response. Let’s talk about Silane’s non-polar nature now.

Why is SiH4 a nonpolar substance?

Let’s start with the basics before delving into the specifics of covalent bonding in silane. We must first understand the concept of electronegativity.


Electronegativity refers to an element’s ability to attract negatively charged electrons towards itself.

It has no units because it is only a tendency. It’s used to tell if a molecule is polar or non-polar, as well as to define polarity.

Covalent Bonds, Polar and Non-Polar

In the parts that follow, I’ll describe what distinguishes a polar from a non-polar covalent bond.

Covalent bond that isn’t polar

When two atoms distribute their electrons evenly, a non-polar covalent connection is formed.

When atoms that share a covalent connection arrange themselves in such a way that their electric charges cancel each other out, this sort of bond is generated.

In a non-polar covalent bond, the difference in electronegativities of the linked atoms is usually quite minor. It also means that there is no charge difference between the two atoms. Also, their electronegativity is identical.

Any of the following conditions will be met by a nonpolar molecule:

1.The net dipole moment is 0 since all dipole moments cancel out. This is true for many symmetrical compounds (but not all).

  1. The electronegativity of all the atoms in that molecule is the same.

Covalent Polar Bond

A polar covalent bond is created when two atoms share electron pairs unequally. As a result of this state, the molecules tend to have an electrical dipole moment, with the two ends slightly positive or negative.

On the Pauling scale, the electronegativity difference between bound atoms in a polar bond ranges between 0.4 and 1.7 (roughly 2).

The electronegativity of Si and H in SiH4 is 1.9 and 2.2, respectively, making Si-H a polar bond.

Polarity of a molecule is affected by a variety of factors.

The polarity of a covalent bond is mostly determined by the following factors:


Moment of Dipole

Shape of Geometry

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements in relation to Silane.

The Influence of Electronegativity on SiH4 Polarity

One silicon atom is surrounded by four hydrogen atoms.

The first step is to determine if the Si-H bonds are polar or non-polar. We’ll now look at both components’ electronegativity values.

The electronegativity of H is 2.20, while the electronegativity of Silicon is 1.90.

Difference in electronegativity = 2.20 – 1.90 = 0.30

Si-H bond electronegativity difference = 2.20 – 1.90 = 0.30

The change is minor, yet it results in a tiny polarity in the connection. Please keep in mind that we’re discussing the particular Si-H bond, not the full molecule.

The core silicon atom’s small positive partial charge makes it vulnerable to nucleophiles. Hydrogen gains a negative partial charge at the same moment.

SiH4 Dipole Moment

A physical parameter called Dipole moment () is used to determine the polarity of a covalent bond. The product of the charges and the distance between them determines the dipole moment.

Debye (or) is the unit of dipole moment, and it is represented by the symbol.

= e l e l e l e l e l e l

l: the distance between the charges, or the length of the bond

e: an electron’s charge

There are a few key factors to remember about the dipole moment.

In non-polar molecules, dipole moments do not exist. The molecular dipole moment is zero in the case of symmetrical molecules.

The percentage of ionic character in a covalent bond can be calculated using the dipole moment.

Geometry’s Influence on SiH4 Polarity

In the periodic table, hydrogen belongs to group 1, which implies it only has one electron in its outermost shell.

Silicon, on the other hand, belongs to group 14 and has a valency of four. As a result, four silicon valence electrons are shared with four hydrogen valence electrons. As a result, silicon achieves argon’s electrical state and becomes stable.

In sp3 hybridization, silicon exists. Silane has a tetrahedral geometry with a bond angle of 109.5 degrees, according to VSEPR theory.

The bond length between Si and H is 1.4798. The vector sum of the individual dipole moments becomes zero due to the symmetrical arrangement.

I’ve also published a comprehensive article on the subject. SiH4 Lewis Structure, Geometry, and Hybridization must be consulted.

Silane has a net dipole moment of zero and is non-polar.

Silane’s Characteristics

Silane can be thought of as Methane’s silicon equivalent. Because hydrogen has a higher electronegativity than silicon, the polarity of the silicon–hydrogen bond is the inverse of the C–H bonds in methane.

One of the consequences of this flipped polarity is silane’s increased potential to create complex compounds with transition metals.

Because of its flammability, it is extremely explosive and deadly. In the event of a leak, it might cause fatal accidents due to ignition and combustion.

It has a lower density than air and might irritate your skin and eyes. SiH4 is pyrophoric, which means it burns spontaneously in the absence of an external ignition source.

Silane preparation

Silane can be prepared in a number of different ways. It’s commonly made by combining hydrogen chloride with magnesium silicide in the following way:

Mg2Si   +   4HCl   —->   2 MgCl2 + SiH4

It’s also possible to make it out of metallurgical-grade silicon. There are two steps to this. To create trichlorosilane, HSiCl3, silicon is first reacted with hydrogen chloride at around 300 °C, as follows:

Si   +   3 HCl   —->   HSiCl3   +   H2

To make a silane-silicon tetrachloride mixture, the trichlorosilane is mixed with silicon tetrachloride. This redistribution reaction necessitates the use of a catalyst:

4HSiCl3   —->   SiH4   +   3 SiCl4

Silane’s Applications

Silane is a key ingredient in the semiconductor industry, where it is utilised to produce ultra-pure silicon.

At temperatures above 420°C, silane decomposes into silicon and hydrogen, making it suitable for chemical vapour deposition of silicon.

SiH4 is also used to generate a number of silicon-based chemicals as well as doping agents.


Silane is a group 14 hydride that is also known as monosilane or silicane. The bonds are organised at 109.5 degrees in a tetrahedral shape.

Because the compound is symmetrical, the dipole moments cancel out, making it non-polar.

This article covered the fundamentals of covalent bonding as well as the polarity of silane. Please feel free to ask any queries you may have in the comments area. We will respond as quickly as possible.

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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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