Is CF4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: CF4 is a nonpolar molecule due to the symmetrical tetrahedral structure which cancels out the different electron pulls by the extremely electronegative fluorine atoms. 

As a result of its nonpolar character carbon tetrafluoride has a melting point of -184˚C and a boiling point of -128˚C. This means that the compound is a gas at standard temperature and pressure. Due to the large electronegativity difference between fluorine (3.98) and carbon (2.55), the molecule is noted for an incredibly high bond strength. This is due to the partially positive carbon giving the molecular structure some ionic character. In fact carbon-fluoride bonds are noted to be the strongest bonds in organic chemistry. Tetrafluoromethane is naturally produced when you burn any carbon compound in an atmosphere of fluorine. In industrial applications the molecule is produced by combining CCl2F2 and HF.

CF4 Ball and Stick Diagram
CF4 Ball and Stick Diagram. Created with MolView.
How is CF4 utilized in the real world?

Due to the strength of the C-F bonds the compound is very stable and will only react with extreme elements like pure alkali metals. In industry the molecule is sometimes used as a refrigerant. Therefore CF4 is sometimes called R-14. As with many carbofluorides tetrafluoromethane can be used as a plasma etchant in this case specifically on silicon derivatives. Due to the molecules higher density it can also be utilized in neutron detectors. However these same properties make the structure one of the most persistent and potent greenhouse gases. The high density also means that CF4 will crowd our regular air, leading a risk of asphyxiation in poorly ventilated spaces.

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