Polar & Non-Polar Molecules: Crash Course Chemistry #23

Polar & Non-Polar Molecules: Crash Course Chemistry #23


Molecules! So many of them in their infinite
and beautiful variety, but while that variety is great, it can also
be pretty dang overwhelming. And so, in order to help this complicated chemical world make a little more sense, we classify and we categorize. It’s our nature as humans, and it’s extremely
useful. One of the most important of those classifications
is whether a molecule is polar or non-polar. It’s a kind of symmetry, not just of the molecule,
but of the charge. It’s pretty easy to see when you’re just lookin’
at ’em. You got polar and non-polar, polar, non-polar,
polar, non-polar. I’m gonna take sides right now.
I’m on team polar. I think polar molecules are way more interesting,
despite their wonky, off-balance selves. Non-polar molecules are useful, and their
symmetry has a kind of beauty, but polar, in my humble opinion, is where
it’s at. [Theme Music] All right. Now here are two very different
types of chemicals. Right here I have a stick of butter, and then
in this bowl, that’s just normal water. So I’m just gonna go ahead and squeeze this butter, which if you’re wondering is both a terrible and wonderful feeling. And then I’m going to [laughs] just drop that. Now I’m going to attempt to wash that butter
off my hand. But that is just not hap…
that’s just, it’s not going anywhere, ever. Ever.
It’s just beading up on me. Why? Because water is a polar molecule, and the various chemicals that make up butter are non-polar, and water wants nothing to do with that. So. What makes a molecule polar?
Well, two things. First, asymmetrical electron distribution
around the molecule. You can’t have a polar molecule made up entirely
of the same element because those atoms will all have the same
electronegativity, and thus the electron distribution will be
completely symmetrical. Electronegativity is usually thought of as how much an element wants electrons around it, but I think it’s more about how much electrons
want to be near that element. If electrons were 13-year-old girls, fluorine
would be Niall Horan. They’ll do anything just to be near it.
Why? Some simple periodic trends. Electronegativity increases from left to right
because there are more protons in the atoms, and more protons means more boys in the band. Meanwhile, it decreases as you move from top
to bottom because as the crowd of electrons gets bigger, they start to shield each other from the effects of the protons. What I’m trying to say is that electrons are
hipsters. If a bunch of other electrons are into that
thing, they’re less interested. Now there are a number of other factors here, but just like the relationship between tweens
and their latest boy band fixation, it’s complicated and weird and you probably
don’t want to think too much about it. But in this nice little map, you can see that
the trend is pretty clear. The upper-right is where all the superstars
of electro-fame are. Oxygen, nitrogen, fluorine, chlorine, and bromine are basically the One Direction of the periodic table. So for polarity to occur in a molecule, you
have to have two different elements at a minimum, and the difference between their electronegativities
has to be 0.5 or greater. If that’s the case, the outer electrons spend enough extra time around the element that’s more electronegative that chemists label the molecule polar. The result is a partially negative charge
on the more electronegative part of the molecule and a partially positive charge on the less
electronegative side. Now in extreme cases, like if the electronegativity
is greater than 1.6, then we end up with two ions in the same molecule. This isn’t what we’re talking about here when
we talk about polar molecules. We’re talking about differences between 0.5
and 1.6. Another requirement for polarity: you gotta
have geometrical asymmetry. CO2 here has the charge asymmetry locked up,
but because the molecule is linear, in a straight line, it’s a kind of symmetrical asymmetry. The same thing does for CH4 with its tetrahedron
of weakly electronegative hydrogens around a more strongly electronegative carbon. These molecules have polar bonds, but the
molecules themselves are not polar because the symmetry of the bonds cancels
out the asymmetry of the charges. In order for a molecule to be polar, there
has to be a dipole moment, a separation of the charge around the molecule into a more positive area and a more negative area. Lots of molecules are asymmetrical in both
electronegativity and geometry. Those are our polar molecules, the asymmetrical
beauties of chemistry. Look at ’em all! They’re so quirky and weird! We’ve also got a system for indicating where
their charges are. We draw an arrow with a plus sign at the tail
pointing toward the negative side of the molecule. A little lowercase delta plus (δ+) or delta
minus (δ–) by the individual atoms signify a partial positive pr partial negative charge. Liquids made up of polar molecules are really
good at dissolving solids that are composed of polar
or ionic compounds. Ionic solids are basically just polarity taken
to the extreme, so far that instead of having a partial positive
and partial negative dipole moment, the electrons have completely transferred,
creating two charged ions. Now I assume we’ve all heard that like dissolves
like, so the easiest way to figure out if a liquid is polar or non-polar is just to dump it in some water. But the why of this phenomenon is usually
just totally glossed over. What’s actually happening to those molecules? It seems like they’re all just bigots, terrified
of anything a little bit different than themselves. But this is chemistry, so there must be some
fundamental reason. And if it’s fundamental, it probably has something
to do with decreasing the energy of the system. And indeed it does. Those partial positive and partial negative
charges of water? They’re at their lowest energy state when
they’re lining up together, positive to negative, into a kind of liquid crystal. There’s an arrangement there.
It flows, of course, but the oxygen sides are always doing their
best to orient themselves toward the hydrogen sides of other molecules. You can even see the effects of that attraction as the surface tension that allows me to pour more than 100 milliliters of water into a 100 mil container. The strength of that surface tension depends on the intermolecular forces that pull molecules of a liquid together. These attractive, also called cohesive, forces
pull the surface molecules inward. And what you see when you look at this pile
of water is the result of those cohesive forces, minimized surface area in the water in this
beaker. When you pit a bit of oil into that mix, the
water totally freaks out. Oils have notoriously non-polar molecules,
so suddenly there’s this mass of uncharged gunk interfering with the nice, orderly arrangement of polar water molecules. But if you take a closer look, the processes are very similar to those between water and air. Water does everything it can to minimize its
surface area and kind of expels the oil droplets. Rather than the water disliking the oil, it actually just likes itself much more, so it won’t mix with the oil. Now if you put polar stuff in, water is all
about that, and those polar water molecules just go after
whatever other partial charges they can find. Or, in the case of many ionic solids, the partial negative charges on the oxygen
side all gang up on the positive ions, while the partial positives on the hydrogen
side surround the negative ions, breaking the crystals apart and dissolving
them into freely moving ions. In some cases we can actually witness these
interactions in unexpected ways. Mix 50 milliliters of water with 50 mils of alcohol and what the heck? There’s less than 100 mils of liquid! The arrangement of water mixed with alcohol is actually more structured, and thus more dense, resulting in a smaller volume. The polarity of water also results in a phenomenon
that makes life possible: hydrogen bonding. The partially negative oxygen and positive
hydrogen atoms in a water molecule are not 100% faithful to each other. They engage in additional kind of loose relationships with other neighboring hydrogen and oxygen atoms. These loose, somewhat fleeting relationships
are called hydrogen bonds. In ice, 100% of O and H atoms are involved
in hydrogen bonding. The most energetically favorable spatial arrangement
of these bonds actually pushes the water molecules apart
a bit, resulting in the volume of ice being 10% larger
than the volume of water, which is really weird for solids and liquids. When ice melts, there are still about 80%
of Os and Hs engaged in hydrogen bonding, creating ice-like clusters that keep the volume
of the cold water relatively high. With rising temperatures, these clusters disappear, while the volume of the truly liquid water rises resulting in a major characteristic of water: having its highest density at 4 °C. And yes, that’s why ice floats on lakes in the winter and why the bottom of frozen lakes tends to be about 4 °C. And also why hockey was invented. And why soda bottles explode when you leave them in the freezer. But hydrogen bonds are also why taking a warm bath is so great, why steam engines changed the world, and why temperatures on our planet are so constant when compared to other cosmic temperature fluctuations. It takes a lot of energy to change the temperature
of water because each little temperature change is associated with breaking or forming lots of hydrogen bonds, and they absorb or give off a lot of heat. In fact, the specific heat capacity of water
is about five times that of common rocks. And amazingly, we haven’t even finished talking about how powerfully useful these partial charges are. They also allow water to dissolve pretty much
anything that’s even partially non-polar, which includes sugars, proteins, ions, and
tons of inorganic chemicals. Water and its useful little dipole moment can dissolve more compounds than any other chemical on Earth. Frankly, it’s amazing that it doesn’t dissolve
us from the inside out. Which brings me to one last little polarity
tidbit, the hybrid molecule. There are lots of different molecules, like
the surfactants in soap, for example, that have both polar and non-polar areas. Dish soap is thus able to dissolve the fatty parts of my butter catastrophe here, and then stick the polar sides out, allowing the whole mess to get washed away
by Avogadro’s numbers of polar water molecules that I’m sticking on my hand right now. Oh yeah.
That’s better, but not… I’m gonna have to go to the bathroom to get
this all the way fixed up. So, be right back. Likewise, the fatty acids that make up your
cell membranes have polar heads, which keeps them interacting with the aqueous
environment of out bodies, but non-polar tails, which prevent the cells from being just dissolved by the water around them. Pretty dang elegant if you ask me. Thanks for watching this episode of Crash
Course Chemistry. If you were paying attention, you learned
that a molecule needs to have both charge asymmetry
and geometric asymmetry to be non-polar, that charge asymmetry is caused by a difference in electronegativities, and that I am totally team polar. You also learned how to notate a dipole moment
or charge separation of a molecule, the actual physical mechanism behind “like
dissolves like”, and why water is just so dang good at fostering
life on this planet. This episode was written by me, edited by
Blake de Pastino. Our chemistry consultants are Dr. Heiko Langner
and Edi Gonzalez. It was filmed, edited, and directed by Nicholas
Jenkins. Michael Aranda is our script supervisor and sound designer, and our graphics team is Thought Café.

100 Replies to “Polar & Non-Polar Molecules: Crash Course Chemistry #23”

  1. In the Electronegativity section where he shows the periodic table, he says the "superstars" are "Oxygen, Nitrogen, Flourine, Chlorine, and Bromine" but the table expands the "Carbon" and "Boron" boxes… (2:40)

  2. you speak fast as if everybody knows what you're talking about. Why do no make use of our knowledge to do some real teaching?

  3. What a goat. All through chemistry last year i never knew how to tell the difference between something polar & nonpolar but i still passed w a B. now i’m in AP Bio & it’s very important to know

  4. hank ur the best dont even care about these scumbags in this sec complaining ah its too fast or oh my exam is tmrw so goodbye

  5. You speak way too quickly!! Not helpful, just overwhelming. Lose the jokes and just put it straight but slow it down a bit pls

  6. I love Crash Course videos, I have to stop along the way to write down notes. So much information, it's hard to remember it all.

  7. I know this concept but could not process anything. I think the fast talking, introduction of a metaphor, and sudden use of different vocabulary was quite overwhelming.

    I would suggest explaining it like this:
    1) (show your butter and water example) "Why doesn't it mix?"
    2) Introduce polar (slight positive and slight negative charge due to unequal distribution of electrons) and nonpolar (equal distribution of electrons) molecules
    3) "Why does this exist?"
    4) Introduce electronegativity (atom tendency to attract electrons), electronegativity increases as you go up and to the right of the periodic table
    5) "So, if one atom in a two atom bond has greater electronegativity than the other, then the electrons will move to the greater electronegativity atom and cause a slight negative and slight positive charge."
    6) "But, if the molecule is symmetric, then the charges balance out."

    7) So, polar molecules have unequal electronegativities and a unsymmetric shape. Nonpolar molecules have same electronegativities OR unequal electronegativities and a symmetric shape.

    edit:
    8) That is why butter (nonpolar) and water (polar) don't mix. Water needs another polar molecule to properly balance its slight charges out.

  8. talking a bit slowly would help drastically in understanding..i watched the video in x0.5 and its so much understandable than normal…

  9. So glad for YouTube speed settings. I can set it to 1.75 and not have to waste 10 whole minutes on polarity while cramming for a test the morning before

  10. CORRECTION AT 8:49: It says that water can dissolve anything Non-Polar, but this should be corrected to Polar.

    Water is a Polar Molecule, so it likes to interact with other Polar Molecules, causing solubility between the substances. If the substance that water is trying to dissolve is Non-Polar (like oil), the molecules repel.

  11. At 2:44 you said that the higher electronegativity elements are at the top and you said bromine whereas it should have been Boron 🙂

  12. Hi, sorry I'm pressed for time but foes anyone know whether polarity is an intensive or extensive property? And could you please explain? Thanks!

  13. 7:01 Since the law states that density is equal to mass over volume, if the relationship between density and volume is inverse, how can it become less dense and less volume??

  14. When you Are in 1 minute of the vídeo and Go right to the comment section…
    I was happy but later at 3:00 I dont get it….

  15. 2:44 The two elements that are highlighted when talking about chlorine and bromine were not actually chlorine and bromine they were carbon and boron the symbol for chlorine is Cl bromine Br boron B and carbon C

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