Polarity, CF4 Lewis Structure, Molecular Geometry, and Hybridization

Carbon Tetrafluoride has the chemical formula CF4 and is the simplest fluorocarbon. It is a well-known haloalkane or halomethane with strong bonds between the carbon and fluorine atoms, resulting in a molecule that is quite stable. In addition, the compound is sometimes known as tetrafluoromethane because it is a fluoromethane.

For the preparation of organofluorine compounds, carbon tetrafluorides are frequently employed in fluorine chemistry research. It is available as a colourless, combustible gas and is often carried as a liquid at extremely high pressure.

There are numerous methods for preparing carbon tetrafluoride, but hydrogen fluoride is the most frequent industrial process. The reaction between dichlorodifluoromethane and hydrogen fluoride yields carbon tetrafluoride and hydrogen chloride.

CCl2F2 plus 2HF produces CF4 and 2HCl.

Carbon tetrafluoride is a highly stable chemical whose heat disintegration yields poisonous gases of carbonyl fluoride and carbon monoxide.

This chemical, which is somewhat soluble in water, is a significant low-temperature refrigerant. With a half-life of more than 50,000 years, this chemical, which is utilised in electronic microfabrication, is a substantial greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming.

Carbon Tetrafluoride (CF4) Lewis Structure

The Lewis structure is a diagram used to determine the location of valence electrons within an atom. In addition, the figure facilitates the determination of how these valence electrons contribute to bond formation by being absorbed or provided by another atom.

To further investigate the hybridization of a molecule, it is essential to understand the orbital shells and energy levels of the electrons. We can only examine the molecular orbital diagram of a molecule by utilising the Lewis structure.

To examine the Lewis structure of any compound, we must first investigate the structure of the constituent atoms, as is customary. Carbon’s atomic number is 6, making its electrical configuration 1s2 2s2 2p2.

As is well known, the p shell must hold six valence electrons in its outermost shell, although there are only four. This gives carbon four valence electrons. In contrast, fluorine has an atomic number of nine and an electronic structure of 1s2 2s2 2p5.

We are aware that chemistry is full of exceptions, and the fluorine atom is no exception. Valence electrons are also present in the highest primary energy levels, which for fluorine are 2s and 2p. This results in seven valence electrons on the fluorine atom.

Here, it is essential to understand what valence electrons are. The electrons in an atom’s outermost shell are known as valence electrons. As they are located the farthest from the nucleus, only these electrons participate in bond formation.

This prevents the nucleus’ force of attraction from successfully reaching these electrons. With the smallest amount of excitation by any surrounding atom, these electrons rapidly link with them to produce a new molecule with entirely different features.

Now, let’s learn step-by-step how to draw the Lewis structure of carbon tetrafluoride (CF4):

Determine the total number of valence electrons possessed by each carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule: It is 32 because four electrons come from the carbon atom and seven from each fluorine atom.

Step 2: Determine how many additional valence electrons each carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule requires: It is eight because the carbon atom need four more and the fluorine atom requires one.

Step 3: Determine the centre atom of each carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule: Typically, the centre atom is the sole component of the molecule. They tend to create the greatest amount of bonds with other atoms.

  1. Determine the type of bond created in each carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule (single, double, or triple bond).

Only one covalent shared connection is established between the atoms involved.

Draw the Lewis structure of the carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule by combining all the previously given points:

Carbon Tetrafluoride (CF4) Molecular Geometry

CF4 is a pentaatomic molecule with a bond angle of 109.5°, resulting in a tetrahedral structure.

With the aid of the Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) theory, it is possible to examine in depth how, in the presence of a lone pair of electrons, the molecule prefers to adhere to the ideal circumstances.

The associated VSEPR chart is shown below.

The structure of carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) is AX4E0, where A represents carbon, X4 represents four fluorine atoms, and E0 represents zero lone pairs of electrons.

Molecular geometry is the three-dimensional graphic that illustrates how electrons have bonded in order to calculate the bond angle, bond type, molecular structure, and other geometrical factors.

You can only learn about the molecular geometry of a molecule after you have drawn its Lewis structure, which specifies the quantity and location of valence electrons within the molecule.

Carbon Tetrafluoride (CF4) Hybridization

The centre atom in a molecule of carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) is sp3 hybridised. This is due to the fact that one carbon atom and four fluorine atoms are bonding to complete the octet.

Here, one 2s orbital and three 2p orbitals of the same atom combine and overlap to generate four new orbitals with equal energy.

In addition, all the fluorine atoms utilise the newly formed hybrid orbitals of the carbon atom to build carbon-hydrogen sigma bonds. Ultimately, this results in the production of the carbon fluoride molecule.

The single shared covalent bonds consist solely of sigma bonds and contain no pi bonds. Due to this, the bond formation in carbon tetrafluoride is quite strong and stable (CF4).

The sigma bonds in carbon tetrafluoride are always created by the linear and coaxial overlap of the atomic orbitals, which is stronger than the lateral overlap of the pi bond. Therefore, molecules containing just sigma bonds are highly reactive and susceptible to polarity behaviour.

Hybridization is a graphical representation of determining how the valence electrons of several atoms link to form a new molecule.

Here, atomic orbitals with the same energy overlap and combine to form new degenerated hybrid orbitals with the same energy.

Quantum physics postulates that only atomic orbitals with similar energy can participate in the hybridization process, which includes both totally filled and partially filled orbitals with similar energy.

Only one s orbital and one p orbital, two s orbitals and two p orbitals, and one s orbital and one d orbital can mix and overlap.

Carbon Tetrafluoride (CF4) Polarity

Polarity refers to the tendency of atoms to divide their electric charge into positive and negative poles. As a result of this separation of charges, a molecule is highly responsive to the neighbouring atom and tends to either repel or attract it.

The molecule of carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) is determined to be nonpolar.

The explanation is due to the electronegativity values of the collaborating atoms, which in this case are carbon and fluorine. Electronegativity is a mathematical method for determining the strength with which an atom will draw shared electrons towards itself. The greater the electronegativity, the greater the attractive force, and vice versa.

Carbon and fluorine have electronegativity values of 2.5 and 4, respectively, with a difference of 1.5, which is greater than 0.4. If the difference in electronegativity is less than 0.4, then the molecule is nonpolar according to the law; otherwise, it is polar. This indicates that carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) exhibits an anomaly in which the difference in electronegativity between the involved atoms is more than 0.4 while being a nonpolar molecule.

Considering the electronegativity difference blindly would indicate that each of the carbon-fluorine bonds is quite strong and polar, according to the rule of thumb. As noted previously, however, chemistry is full of exceptions, and it is the tetrahedral structure of the molecule that imparts symmetry to the structure.

You may also consult CF4 Polarity explanations.

This symmetry is a result of the perfect molecular geometry of carbon tetrafluoride, which cancels out the net dipole moment remaining on the molecule. The carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) molecule is therefore nonpolar in nature.


Carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) is an extremely hazardous chemical molecule and one of the principal greenhouse gases responsible for altering the stratosphere. As a key refrigerant, this molecule is still utilised by nearly all of the major companies in the electronic industry.

The Lewis structure of carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) is the starting point for understanding its reactivity. It is stated that the molecule’s single shared covalent bonds consisting of solely sigma bonds are the cause of carbon tetrafluoride’s extreme reactivity (CF4).

In addition, an anomaly has been seen with carbon tetrafluoride (CF4), where the difference in electronegativity between the participating atoms indicates that the molecule is polar yet the symmetry indicates that it is nonpolar. In this instance, symmetry prevails because it cancels out the whole net dipole moment, neutralising the molecule to zero.

Read more: Polar or nonpolar is XeF4?

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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