Is PCL3 Polar Or Nonpolar

polarity of pcl3

Is PCL3 polar or nonpolar? Before proceeding to our main topic, read an overview description of PCL3.

Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a chemical compound with phosphorous (P) and chloride (Cl) elements. The gas of PCL3 is a very toxic and volatile liquid that reacts violently with water to produce hydrogen chloride (HCL) gas.

Hydrogen chloride (HCL) is a chemical compound of the two elements, chlorine and hydrogen. The intermolecular forces of hydrogen chloride (HCL) are very weak.

The shape of the PCL3 is trigonal pyramidal, and PCL3 will reacts readily with many other compounds because phosphorous trichloride is a strong oxidizer.

It exists in a liquid state at room temperature, and the color of PCL3 is yellow in appearance with slightly yellow fuming liquids.

Its smell is pungent and very irritating, which resembling like hydrochloric acid.


The chemical formula of phosphorous trichloride is (PCL3).

Common Name:

The common name of PCL3 is Trichlorophosphane, Phosphorous chloride, and Phosphorus(III) chloride.

Is PCL3 Polar Or Nonpolar

Explanation 1:

The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule because, in PCL3, the chlorine is more electronegative than phosphorous. Since concerning phosphorus, chlorine is the partially negative charge, due to it the chlorine pulls the electron from the phosphorous atom which resulting PCL3 making a polar molecule.

Explanation 2:

The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule because of its trigonal planar structure. Its shape is tetrahedral, where three chlorine atoms and one lone pair is surrounding the P.

Explanation 3:

The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule because the geometrical shape of PCL3 is tetrahedral and has a lone pair in the atom phosphorus (P). Also, chlorine is more electronegative, chlorine has an electronegativity of 3.16, and phosphorous has an electronegativity of 2.19.

Explanation 4:

The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule due to a lone pair of electrons at the top of the molecule, which leads to the electron-electron repulsion. This results in a folded (bent) structure, so the folded (bent) structure distributes the charge unevenly across the molecule, including a permanent dipole.

With that, it’s also essential to know about the BF3 NH4 and SO3 polarity.


The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule because of many reasons. To know the reasons in detail why PCL3 is polar, read the above paragraphs.

PCL3 Molecular Geometry

Shape of PCL3
PCl3 Molecular Geometry

The molecular shape of the Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is trigonal pyramidal, and electronic geometry is tetrahedral, based on VSEPR theory

There are two dimensions of Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3), one dimension contains electrons, and the other dimensions contains bonds. 

If you want to find out any chemical compound’s shape, it would be better to take help from the VSEPR theory. 


The molecular geometry of PCL3 is trigonal pyramidal.

PCL3 Lewis Structure

In the Lewis structure of PCL3, there are two chemical compounds. One is phosphorous (P), and the second is chlorine (Cl). 

To draw the PCL3 lewis structure, follow the below instructions.

  • First of all, find out the total number of valence electrons in the PCL3 using the periodic table.
  • The phosphorous in group 5 on the periodic table and have five valence electrons.
  • Chlorine in group 7 on the periodic table and have seven valence electrons, but Cl3 means that we have three chlorine so that we will multiply 7 three times, which becomes 7×3=21.
  • Now add phosphorus and chlorine, which is equal to 5+21= 26.
  • Put the phosphorus (P) in the center and add chlorine (Cl) around P.
  • Put the pair of electrons between each phosphorus and chlorine to form a chemical. We have total 26 valence electrons, so put them around Cl and P as shown in the figure.
  • Finally, all of the chlorine and phosphorous have eight valence electrons, which octet and outer shells are full.

If you didn’t get the above points, don’t worry. Watch the video to draw the Lewis structure of PCL3.

Hybridization Of PCL3

The hybridization is equal to the sum of sigma bonds + the number of lone pairs.

In PCL3, there are three sigma bonds and one lone pair, so the total becomes four. Therefore the hybridization of PCL3 is sp3.

In PCL3, phosphorous in the center is attached with three chlorine atoms, Five valence electrons present in the phosphorus. It is attached to the three chlorine atoms, so that is why its valency is 3. Therefore, the hybridization number of the PC13 molecule is four and has an sp3 hybridization state, that is, a molecule that hybridizes to sp3.


Simple is that PCL3 hybridization is sp3.

Bond Angle Of PCL3

A bond angle is an angle between two bonds that include an atom, and the bond angle is usually measured in degrees. If I talk about the bond distance, so it’s the distance between the central part and the other two bonded atoms which is joining the center along a straight line. The bond angle of PCL3 is 109o.


Simple is that The bond angle of PCL3 is 109o.

PCL3 Electron Geometry

The electron geometry is the arrangement of electron groups, As I have discussed in the PCL3 lewis structure that there is a total of 26 valence electrons in the PCL3. Here are the details how it becomes 26.

Phosphorus = 5 valence electrons
Chlorine = 7 valence electrons
the number of chlorine is three so multiply it with seven which become 21.

5+7(3)= 26 valence electrons.

The number of lone pair electrons in the phosphorus = 2


Above is the explanation of phosphorous trichloride electrons that how PCL3 have 26 electrons.

Is PCL3 Ionic Or Covalent

Which bond PCL3 have?
Chlorine around phosphorus

Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a covalent bond because in PCL3 phosphorus (P) needs 3 electrons to complete the octet, As you can see in the picture that the P atom is attached with three chlorine by a covalent bond and complete octet.

The other reason why PCL3 is a covalent bond, it’s because of the non-metallic compound, The chlorine and phosphorus both are non-metallic elements where electrons are shared between the two non-metallic elements that are why the covalent bond is formed.


Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a covalent bond.

How Is PCl3 a Lewis Acid

The Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a Lewis acid because in PCL3 phosphorus (P) has the empty orbitals D in its valence shell to accept electrons which act as a Lewis acid.


Above is the reason that why PCL3 act as a Lewis acid.

Uses Of Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3)

  • It is used in many application such as herbicides, plasticisers and insecticides.
  • It is also used in oil additives, and flame retardants.
  • PCl3 is also used directly as a reagent in organic synthesis.
  • It is also used for converting alcohol into alkyl chlorides.
  • It is also used in the  Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons reaction.


It’s not over there are many other uses of PCL3, but I have mentioned a few of them.

Properties Of Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3)

  • The chemical formula of Phosphorous trichloride is PCL3.
  • The odor of PCL3 is unpleasant like hydrochloric acid.
  • Its density is 1.574 g/cm3.
  • The PCL3 dipole moment is 0.97.
  • The molar mass of the PCL3 is 137.33 g/mol.
  • Phosphorus trichloride appears as colorless and yellow in appearance.
  • The boiling point of PCL3 is 76.1 °C (169.0 °F; 349.2 K), and the melting point is −93.6 °C (−136.5 °F; 179.6 K)


Above is the property of Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3).

PCL3 Dipole Moment

The dipole moment of the polar molecule is equal to non zero, and the nonpolar molecules always have zero dipole moment. The PCL3 is a polar molecule which dipole moment is 0.97 D.


The dipole moment of PCL3 is 0.97 D.

Final Thoughts

That was all about is PCL3 polar or nonpolar, I hope it’s now clear to you that Phosphorous trichloride (PCL3) is a polar molecule.

If you want to know the reason why PCL3 is polar than read the whole article that will clarify all your confusion.

The molecular geometry of PCL3 is trigonal pyramidal If I talk about its hybridization, so the hybridization of PCL3 is sp3.

The PCL3 have a total of 26 valence electrons, and its bond angle is 109o.

Do you think we have missed something about the PCL3 topic? Let us know in the comments section below we will add them.

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