Molecular Geometry, Hybridization, and Polarity of ClF3 Lewis Structure

ClF3 (chlorine trifluoride) is a highly reactive chemical compound with a wide range of uses and physical and chemical properties.

It has a density of roughly 3.79 g/l and a molar mass of 92.45 g/mol and is an interhalogen molecule that contains both Cl and F.

ClF3 has a suffocating pungent odour and comes in a variety of colours, from colourless gaseous to green liquid.

ClF3 is a strong oxidant as well as a powerful fluorinating agent.

As a result, this compound can be used in propellants, nuclear reactors, and as an incendiary. It’s also utilised for plasma-free semiconductor cleaning and reactor fuel reprocessing.

It is, however, an extremely dangerous and corrosive gas that can be lethal if inhaled. It can also cause severe harm to the skin and eyes, making it extremely poisonous. It has the potential to cause unwelcome explosions.

Do you realise that when ClF3 is involved in a hydrolysis reaction, it frequently becomes violent?

As a result, it is critical to exercise extreme caution and safety precautions when handling the chemical to avoid any potential dangers.

Lewis Structure of ClF3

Subtract the total number of Valence Electrons from the total number of Valence Electrons.

Let’s start by learning about valence electrons and the octet rule.

Electrons with valence

The number of electrons present surrounding atomic nuclei in the outermost shell, also known as the valence shells, is referred to as valence electrons.

The amount of valence electrons present in each atomic element in its ground state can simply be calculated using the periodic table and the atomic number. This is a symbol for valency.

The rule of octet

The main group elements have an innate tendency toward octet fulfilment, which basically means that they want to have eight valence electrons like noble gas configurations of the same period.

Carbon (atomic number 6) has a tendency to have an octet arrangement similar to neon ( atomic no:10 and the noble gas of the same period)

Now we’ll figure out how many valence electrons there are in ClF3:

ClF3 is a chemical compound with one chlorine atom and three fluorine atoms. The atomic number of chlorine is 17, while that of fluorine is 9.

They both belong to the periodic table’s group 7 and have a valency of 7.

ClF3 has a total valence electron count of 7 + 7*3 = 28.

Determine the Molecule’s Central Atom

How can the centre atom of a multiatomic heterogeneous molecule be identified?

To do so, we must restate the electronegativity hypothesis.


Negatively charged electrons are always drawn to an atomic element. Electronegativity is a chemical characteristic that varies in length and breadth across the periodic table.

The centre atom is now thought to be the element that is the least electronegative of all the elements that make up a molecule.

As a result, the centre atom is assumed to be chlorine.

Draw the molecule’s skeleton diagram.

We’ll use atomic symbols and valence electrons to create a skeleton sketch of the molecule using the electron dot structure.

Octet Fulfillment can be found here.

The octet fulfilment rule has already been considered. This is done to keep the electrons in the outer shell happy. As a result, we’ll wrap electrons around atoms to complete the octet configurations.

Take a look at the diagram below:

Note that in the diagram, the total number of electrons is 26, not 28.

The development of bonds

The bonds in the molecule will be drawn. But first, we’ll finish counting the valence electrons to 28.

The development of a single bond is caused by the sharing of a pair of electrons, as shown in the diagram:

The three single bonds can be seen: Cl-F

Examine the Charge Form

We’re never quite sure if we’ve found the ideal Lewis structure. As a result, the concept of a formal fee emerges.

When we give a charge to any bonded atom, we assume that the charge is distributed evenly among all bonded atoms. A formal charge is what this is called.

This is how we find out if a formal charge has been filed:

We’ll now see if all of the bonded atoms in chlorine trifluoride have the smallest or smallest formal charges conceivable.

ClF3 is a kind of chlorofluorofluor

Valence electrons (7) – 0.5Bonding electrons (6) – Lone pair of electrons (22) = Cl’s formal charge

= 0 – 7 – 3 – 4 =

Valence electrons (7) – 0.5Bonding electrons (2) – Lone pair of electrons (23) = Formal charge of each F atom

0 = 7 – 1 – 6 =

As a result, we have the most perfect ClF3 Lewis Structure.

We can now move on to the next issue.

Molecular Geometry of ClF3

ClF3’s two-dimensional Lewis Structure has already been sketched. The next step is to figure out the molecule’s three-dimensional geometry.

The term for this is molecular geometry.

Theory of VSEPR

The Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion model theoretically is abbreviated as VSEPR. This is the most popular theoretical foundation on which chemists prefer to forecast a molecule’s molecular shape.

Electrons are negatively charged subatomic particles that tend to repel one other as they create a charged cloud surrounding nuclei.

As a result, in order to achieve a balanced molecule structural composition, electron repulsion must be reduced as much as feasible. This is the foundation of the VSEPR model.

Molecular Structure of ClF3

Here, we must determine ClF3’s ideal molecular geometrical shape.

Take a peek at this VSEPR graph.

To compute the molecular geometry, we must first determine the number of lone pairs and the steric number of the central atom.

The concept of a lone pair, or non-bonded electron pair, is well-known. ClF3 is an exception to the octet rule since it has two lone pairs over central chlorine.

Number of Sterics

When a molecule’s energy is at its lowest, electron repulsion is minimised, and the molecule is in its most stable state.

The steric number is a phrase used in VSEPR theory that is worth noting. The number of domains connected to or associated to the core atom is referred to as the number of domains.

ClF3 steric number = 3 (bonding electrons) + 2 (lone pair) = 5

Take another look at the graph above.

ClF3 has a T-shaped molecular structure, according to the VSEPR theory.

Hybridization of ClF3

What is Orbital Hybridization, and how does it work?

We can’t ignore orbital hybridization as a fundamental notion in chemical bonding. We’re all familiar with the atomic orbitals s, p, d, and f.

Atomic orbitals (AOs) are the likely regions or spaces inside an atom around the nucleus where we can predict the presence of electrons, and they vary in shape, quantity, and size.

Hybridization is the process of fusing and mixing distinct types of atomic orbitals to produce hybridised orbitals.

Hybridization type in ClF3

Configuration of electronic devices

1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p5 Cl: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p5

1s2 2s2 2p5 F: 1s2 2s2 2p5

In chlorine, we have filled s, px, py, pz half-filled, and vacant d orbitals for the valence 3 shell.

The paired electrons will shift to d orbitals, and hybridization will occur through one s, three p, and one d orbital.

As a result, we have sp3d hybridization.

Polarity of ClF3

Another aspect of chemical bonding that we need to understand is polarity. So, how can you tell if a molecule is polar or not?

Do you realise that when a bond is created, we just assume that electrons will be shared in an equal proportion? The truth is that it isn’t!

While forming any connection, the atomic elements have partial charges (positive and negative), and the distance in the bond is formed, which aids in the measurement of dipole moment.

There is no net dipole if the charges cancel each other (as they usually do in the case of homogeneous diatomic molecules), resulting in non-polarity.

The molecule has a net dipole if there is an electronegativity difference. The chemical in question is polar.

The values of electronegativity of periodic table elements can be found using the Pauling scale. The electronegativity of a chlorine atom is 3.16, but the electronegativity of a fluorine atom, which is strongly electronegative, is 3.98.

In each Cl-F bond inside chlorine trifluoride, the partial positive charge is held by Cl, and the partial negative charge is maintained by F atoms.

As a result of the large disparity in electronegativity, a net dipole forms, resulting in polarity.

ClF3 is a chemical with polar properties.


The chemical bonding of chlorine trifluoride has been discussed in this article.

The Lewis structure, hybridization, molecular geometry, and polarity have all been discussed. I hope you found my comprehensive explanation useful.

Good luck with your studies!

Read more: Is SF2 a polar or nonpolar substance?

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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