The Meaning of Polarity in Chemistry

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Polarity in chemistry essentially refers to a separation of electric charge. Find out about the meaning of polarity in chemistry with help from an experienced educator in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Physics
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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Walter Unglaub. And this is the meaning of polarity in chemistry. Polarity in chemistry essentially refers to a separation of electric charge. There's two distinct types of charge in the universe for electromagnetism. They are negative and positive. And by convention, we label electrons as having negative charge. So, if we consider as an example, one molecule of water which H2O. We note that oxygen has eight protons and hence if it's electrically neutral, it should eight electrons. And the electron configuration would be one-S-two, two-S-two, two-P-four. Where you add up these electrons and they add up to the total, eight. Likewise, hydrogen has one proton and for electrically neutral hydrogen, it would have one electron. And you write the electron configuration simply as one-S-one. So, now if we draw the Lewis Dot Structure corresponding to one molecule of water of H2O. we would have an atom for oxygen bonded to two atoms of hydrogen. And the reasons that these bonds are bent is because there is two sets of electrons on the top of this diagram. And what's going on is that, since the electrons have the same charge, they're electromagnetically repelling each other. And that's causing these bonds to bend. So, because the hydrogen atoms, they have a nucleus of positive charge and we have an accumulation of electrons towards the top of the Dot Structure. We notice that there is an asymmetry in the vertical direction in the way I drew this figure. So, this arrow represents a dipole. Where I have positive charge at the bottom and more negative charge that has convened at the top. And this dipole is essentially representation of polarity. So, we say that this molecule of water, this H2O has electrically polarity. My name is Walter Unglaub and this is the meaning of polarity in chemistry.


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