# When are tetrahedral molecules polar and when are they nonpolar?

Any 100% symmetrical tetrahedral molecule will be nonpolar.

Tetrahedral molecules have no nonbonding electron pairs and all identical bond angles. Therefore, the only way they can be asymmetric is if one atom is different from the rest.

*When a symmetrical nonpolar molecule is made asymmetric by replacing a surrounding atom with a new atom, the nonpolar molecule becomes polar if the new atom is significantly different in electronegativity than the original atom.
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Take

In

So, *symmetrically* polarized inwards, and thus every possible dipole moment vector cancels out and

In contrast,

That asymmetrically polarizes

You can compare the electron density maps for if you continue comparing with

Note that when you compare

However, the electron density distribution is more negative towards chlorine in

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Tetrahedral molecules are polar when they have polar bonds with an uneven distribution of charge, resulting in a net dipole moment. They are nonpolar when the polar bonds cancel each other out due to symmetry, resulting in no net dipole moment.

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