Definition Of Non-Polar Covalent Bonds

Nonpolar Covalent Bond: Have you ever watched toddlers playing together with a toy? Sometimes they equally share toys, and other times, one child takes the other child’s toy away. Some types of chemical bonding are very similar to the way that children play with toys. Nonpolar covalent bonds are a type of bond that occurs when two atoms share a pair of electrons with each other. These shared electrons glue two or more atoms together to form a molecule. Like children who share toys, atoms involved in a nonpolar covalent bond equally share electrons. An example of a nonpolar covalent bond is the bond between two hydrogen atoms because they equally share the electrons. Another example of a nonpolar covalent bond is the bond between two chlorine atoms because they also equally share the electrons. Nonpolar covalent bonds are very strong bonds requiring a large amount of energy to break the bond.

Nonpolar covalent bonds are extremely important in biology. They form the oxygen we breathe and help make up our living cells. One kind of nonpolar covalent bond that is very important in biology is called a peptide bond. A peptide bond joins together chains of amino acids, which are involved in the construction of our DNA. Amino acids are comprised of several atoms like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen.

Definition Of Non-Polar Covalent Bonds
POLAR AND NONPOLAR COMPOUNDS

Bonds that are partly ionic are called polar covalent bondsNonpolar covalent bonds, with equal sharing of the bond electrons, arise when the electronegativities of the two atoms are equal.

Nonpolar covalent bonds are chemical bonds where two atoms share a pair of electrons with each other and the electronegativities of the two atoms are equal. An example is methane. It has four carbon-hydrogen single covalent bonds. These bonds are nonpolar because the electrons are shared equally.

To determine the polarity of a covalent bond using numerical means, find the difference between the electronegativity of the atoms; if the result is between 0.4 and 1.7, then, generally, the bond is polar covalent.

Nonpolar Covalent Bond Examples

Water (H2O) is a polar bonded molecule. The electronegativity value of oxygen is 3.44, while the electronegativity of hydrogen is 2.20. The inequality in electron distribution accounts for the bent shape of the molecule. The oxygen “side” of the molecule has a net negative charge, while the two hydrogen atoms (on the other “side”) have a net positive charge.

Hydrogen fluoride (HF) is another example of a molecule that has a polar covalent bond. Fluorine is the more electronegative atom, so the electrons in the bond are more closely associated with the fluorine atom than with the hydrogen atom. A dipole forms with the fluorine side having a net negative charge and the hydrogen side having a net positive charge. Hydrogen fluoride is a linear molecule because there are only two atoms, so no other geometry is possible.

The ammonia molecule (NH3) has polar covalent bonds between the nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. The dipole is such that the nitrogen atom is more negatively charged, with the three hydrogen atoms all on one side of the nitrogen atom with a positive charge.

Nonpolar Covalent Bond Definition

Depending on the relative electronegativities of the two atoms sharing electrons, there may be partial transfer of electron density from one atom to the other. When the electronegativities are not equal, electrons are not shared equally and partial ionic charges develop.The greater the electronegativity difference, the more ionic the bond is. Bonds that are partly ionic are called polar covalent bonds.

Nonpolar covalent bonds, with equal sharing of the bond electrons, arise when the electronegativities of the two atoms are equal.

Polar and Nonpolar Covalent Bonds

Non Polar Covalent Bond

  • A bond between 2 nonmetal atoms that have the same electronegativity and therefore have equal sharing of the bonding electron pair
  • Example: In H-H each H atom has an electronegativity value of 2.1, therefore the covalent bond between them is considered nonpolar

Polar Covalent Bond

  • A bond between 2 nonmetal atoms that have different electronegativities and therefore have unequal sharing of the bonding electron pair
  • Example: In H-Cl, the electronegativity of the Cl atom is 3.0, while that of the H atom is 2.1
  • The result is a bond where the electron pair is displaced toward the more electronegative atom. This atom then obtains a partial-negative charge while the less electronegative atom has a partial-positive charge.This separation of charge or bond dipole can be illustrated using an arrow with the arrowhead directed toward the more electronegative atom.


The Greek letter delta indicates “partially”.

  • Within a molecule each polar bond has a bond dipole
  • A polar molecule always contains polar bonds, but some molecules with polar bonds are nonpolar.

Polar Molecule

  • A molecule in which the bond dipoles present do not cancel each other out and thus results in a molecular dipole.(see below). Cancellation depends on the shape of the molecule or Stereochemistry and the orientation of the polar bonds.

Molecular Dipole

  • A result of the bond dipoles in a molecule.
  • Bond dipoles may or may not cancel out thereby producing either molecules that are nonpolar, if they cancel, or polar, if they do not cancel
  • Examples:
    • CO2 is a linear molecule with 2  bond dipoles that are equal and oppositely directed therefore the bond polarities cancel and the molecule is nonpolar.

    • HCN is a linear molecule with 2 bond dipoles that are in the same direction and are not equal therefore the bond polarities do not cancel and the molecule is polar

    • More examples can be found on the Table: Stereochemistry of Some Common Molecules

What Is A Nonpolar Covalent Bond

Have you ever seen two children play and one child acts like a bully toward the other child? The bully child seems to spend more time playing with the toy than the other child. They are not equally sharing the toys.

This unequal sharing also happens with a type of bond called polar covalent bonding. Polar covalent bonding is a type of chemical bond where a pair of electrons is unequally shared between two atoms. In a polar covalent bond, the electrons are not equally shared because one atom spends more time with the electrons than the other atom. In polar covalent bonds, one atom has a stronger pull than the other atom and attracts electrons. Remember how electrons carry a negative charge? Well, when electrons spend more time with one atom, it causes that atom to carry a partial negative charge. The atom that does not spend as much time with the electrons carries a partial positive charge. To remember a polar covalent bond, instead say ‘puller covalent,’ and remember one atom has more ‘pull’ on electrons than the other atom.

Another example of a polar covalent bond is between a hydrogen and a chlorine atom. In this bond, the chlorine atom spends more time with the electrons than the hydrogen atom. Because of this unequal sharing of electrons, the chlorine atom carries a partial negative charge, and the hydrogen atom carries a partial positive charge.Your life actually depends on polar covalent bonding. You drink water, right? A water molecule, abbreviated as H2O, is an example of a polar covalent bond. The electrons are unequally shared, with the oxygen atom spending more time with electrons than the hydrogen atoms. Since electrons spend more time with the oxygen atom, it carries a partial negative charge.

Define Nonpolar Covalent Bond

Although we defined covalent bonding as electron sharing, the electrons in a covalent bond are not always shared equally by the two bonded atoms. Unless the bond connects two atoms of the same element, there will always be one atom that attracts the electrons in the bond more strongly than the other atom does When such an imbalance occurs, there is a resulting buildup of some negative charge (called a partial negative charge and designated δ−) on one side of the bond and some positive charge (designated δ+) on the other side of the bond.

Any covalent bond between atoms of different elements is a polar bond, but the degree of polarity varies widely. Some bonds between different elements are only minimally polar, while others are strongly polar. Ionic bonds can be considered the ultimate in polarity, with electrons being transferred rather than shared. To judge the relative polarity of a covalent bond, chemists use electronegativity, which is a relative measure of how strongly an atom attracts electrons when it forms a covalent bond. There are various numerical scales for rating electronegativity.  the most popular—the Pauling scale.

The polarity of a covalent bond can be judged by determining the difference in the electronegativities of the two atoms making the bond. The greater the difference in electronegativities, the greater the imbalance of electron sharing in the bond. Although there are no hard and fast rules, the general rule is if the difference in electronegativities is less than about 0.4, the bond is considered nonpolar; if the difference is greater than 0.4, the bond is considered polar. If the difference in electronegativities is large enough, the resulting compound is considered ionic rather than covalent. An electronegativity difference of zero, of course, indicates a nonpolar covalent bond.