Is NF3 Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: NF3 is a polar molecule due to the presence of a lone pair of electrons causing the bent structure in the molecule. This unequally disperses charge within the entire molecule. 

Due to the large electronegativity and relative number of fluorine (3.98) vs. oxygen (3.44), the effect of the lone pairs on oxygen is dampened. This leads to a weak dipole moment. As a result the compound has a low melting point of -207°C and boiling point of -129°C. This means that nitrogen trifluoride is a gas at standard temperature and pressure. The molecule is only slightly soluble in water as well. The odor is described as "musky" yet the gas is quite stable, being neither flammable or volatile. Unlike many similar types of compounds, NF3 is relatively nontoxic although overexposure can lead to certain blood conditions.

NF3 Ball and Stick Diagram
NF3 Ball and Stick Diagram. Created with MolView.
How is NF3 utilized in the real world?

Nitrogen trifluoride is utilized in order to manufacture integrated circuits by cleaning the chambers in which these processes occur. This occurs as NF3 releases its fluorine atoms which then act as cleaning agents themselves. It also finds use in the production of hydrogen fluoride lasers. However, the industrial uses of NF3 are declining and mostly being replaced by F2 which is an environmentally safer alternative. It has the second highest greenhouse gas potential just behind SF6 due the large number of fluorines present within the structure. The Kyoto protocol has been amended to eventually phase out the use of NF3 in applications where the substance could potentially be released into the atmosphere. 

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