ClF3 Lewis Structure,Characteristics:13 Facts You Should Know


Here, we shall learn how to draw ClF3 lewis dot structure, to count valence electrons, octet rule, its solubility and other such important characteristics.

ClF3 lewis structure is an inter-halogen compound that plays a very important role as solvent, in nuclear chemistry, therefore knowing ClF3 lewis structure, its bonding and connectivity with atoms is very crucial.

ClF3 lewis structure is a simple electronic representation of the skeletal structure of the molecule, about how the electrons are arranged around the atoms.

How to draw ClF3 lewis structure ?

  1. ClF3 lewis structure can be drawn by first by counting the total valence electrons of all the atoms combined. Cl has electronic configuration : [Ne]3s23p5 and F electronic configuration : [He]2s22p5. Therefore, it has a total of 28 valence electrons available.
  2. The central atom is chosen based on their electronegativity and a skeletal structure is drawn. Electronegativity of Cl = 3.16 and F =3.98, thereby choosing Cl has the central atom.
  3. Each atom tries to fulfil its octet by accommodating 8 electrons around it to follow octet rule. A single bond is drawn from each atom with the valence electrons to the nearby atoms.
  4. The Cl is surrounded by a total of 10 electrons in the Lewis dot structure, thereby, violating octet rule.It can accommodate extra electrons apart from the 8 electrons already assigned through bond and lone pairs is, because it has expanded empty 3d shells.
  5. The remaining electrons not forming covalent bond will stay as lone pair of electrons.

Note: Elements having expanded valence shells like 3d elements, it can exceed the octet rule like SF6 , PFor elements with fewer valence electrons can have incomplete octet like H2 .

Construction of ClF3 Lewis Structure step by step :

ClF3 lewis structure formal charge :

ClF3 lewis structure formal charge briefs about the electronic charge of each atom in a molecule based on the Lewis dot structure.

Generally, formal charge can be calculated mathematically by the formula :

Formal charge = (Number of valence electrons in a free atom of the element) – (Number of unshared electrons on the atom) – (Number of bonds to the atom)

In addition, Charge on the molecule= sum of all the formal charges.

Formal Charge of Fa , Fb , Fc  = 7-6-1 = 0 (All the F atoms are equivalent)

Formal Charge of Cl = 7- 4- 3 = 0

clf3 lewis structure
ClF3 lewis structure formal charge :

ClF3 lewis structure resonance :

In ClF3 lewis structure, all the F atoms are equivalent and they cannot form double bonds as their octet gets completed with a stable noble configuration when single bond formation with the central atom takes place.

ClF3 lewis structure has all bonds equivalent.

ClF3 lewis structure octet rule :

Octet rule states that an atom tries to bond in a manner that allows them to take 8 electrons in their valence shell to fulfil their octet. However, many molecules with atoms that has expanded subshells can take up more than 8 electrons, thereby, violating octet rule.

Here, Cl has expanded subshell 3d orbital that is empty. It takes up 2 lone pairs of electrons and 3 bond pairs giving a total of 10 electrons in their outermost shell. Thus, it violates octet rule.

The F atoms take up 8 electrons as per octet rule as they do not have expanded subshells.

ClF3 valence electrons :

Cl electronic configuration : [Ne]3s23p5

F electronic configuration : [He]2s22p5.

Each F atom has 7 outermost electrons, there are 3 F atoms making a total of 21 valence elctcrons. Cl atom has 7 valence electrons.

Therefore, it has a total of 28 valence electons available.

ClF3 lewis structure lone pairs :

From the Lewis dot structure, it is evident that Cl has 2 lone pairs of electrons. Each F atom has 3 lone pairs of electrons.

The total lone pairs of electrons are 11 .

ClF3 hybridisation :

A simple method to calculate number of orbitals taking part in bond formation using VSEPR model is thorugh a mathematical formula given below :

Hybridisation of a molecule = ( Valence electrons of the central atom + Number of monovalent atoms attached to the central atom + Negative charge on the molecule – Positive charge on the molecule )/2

ClF3 Hybridisation = ( 7 + 3 – 0 – 0 )/2 = 5 = sp3d

The central atom is Chlorine. Its electronic configuration in ground state : [Ne]3s23p5  and the excited electronic configuration : [Ne]3s23p43d1 . There are two lone pairs of electrons, one in 3s and the other in one of the 3p subshells occupying the two of the 5 hybrid orbitals. The remaining 3 unpaired electrons, two in 3p subshells and one in 3d subshells will form bonds with the 3 F atoms.

It can be either Trigonal bipyramidal or Square pyramidal geometry.

It adopts a trigonal bipyramidal geometry (Fig: a) as the lone pairs are at 1200 to each other which prevents from steric repulsion of the lone pairs as well as the bond pairs.

clf3 lewis structure
a. Trigonal bipyramidal b. Square pyramidal

ClF3  lewis structure shape :

When we talk about shape of a molecule, we do not consider their lone pairs hybridization. Therefore, the shape is about how the bond pairs are oriented in spatial dimension which gives ClF3  a T-shaped structure.

The F atoms in axial position are not exactly at 900 but somewhat at 88due to lone pair- bond pair repulsion.

It adopts a T-shaped planar shape

ClF3 lewis structure angle :

The angle is not exactly 1800 but less than it as there is lone pair- bond pair repulsion which exceeds the bond pair-bond pair repulsions. It has approximately an angle of 1750 . Also the F atoms in axial position are not exactly at 900 but somewhat at 88 due to lone pair- bond pair repulsion.

Bond angle is not exactly 1800

Is ClF3 acidic or basic ?

It is surprising to know this interhalogen compound can act as both Lewis acid and Lewis base.

In other words, this can be termed as amphoteric. As a result, they are mainly used for establishing a solvent system.

The reaction below shows how ClF3 acts as a base and an acid in different conditions :

AsF3 + ClF3    à [ClF2]+ [AsF4]–           Here, [ClF2]+ , a cationic species is formed, therefore, it acts as an acid.

ClF3  +  NOF  à  [NO]+ [ClF4]–             Here, [ClF4] , an anionic species is formed, therefore, it acts as a base.   

Is ClF3 ionic ?

No, it is not an ionic compound.

This AX3  form of interhalogen compounds do not have great electronegativity difference.

It is a covalent liquid with ionic percentage less than 40% as per Fajan’s rule. Cl has electronegativity of = 3.16 and F = 3.98 whose difference is not appreciable enough to consider it as an ionic compound.

ClF3 lewis structure shape with bond angle and bond distance from wikipedia

Is ClF3 polar or nonpolar ?

It is a polar interhalogen compound. This can be justified by considering the dipole vectors.

The compound is not perfectly T shaped so the F atoms in axial positions do not cancel each other. Furthermore, the dipoles’ vectors adds up to the axial vectors which gives a resultant vector of greater magnitude than the vector in the opposite direction.

Thus, some magnitude of dipole moment is left which makes the compound a polar one.

Dipole moments of the respective bond vectors are shown

ClF3 solubility :

ClF3 is a very reactive gas so its solubility in different solvents have to be checked properly before dissolving it in it. Few solvents in which it is soluble are listed below :

  • Benzene
  • Toluene
  • Acetic acid
  • Hexane

It is soluble in these solvents retaining its stability but at lower concentration. It explodes at higher concentration.

Is ClF3 tetrahedral ?

No, ClF3 cannot be tetrahedral. According to VSEPR model of hybridization, its geometry is trigonal bipyramidal as it is most stable in that form with less steric repulsion.

Is ClF3 linear ?

No, ClF3 is not a linear molecule.

The molecule is considered to be planar as the orientation of the central atom Cl and the surrounding atoms F forming bonds with Cl are arranged in a T-shaped manner but it is not a linear molecule. Its shape is strictly limited to T-shaped which is not linear in real sense.

Conclusion :

ClF3 is an interhalogen compound with trigonal bipyramidal geometry , sp3d hybridisation and planar T-shaped which is mainly used in solvent system.

Nandita Biswas

Hello. I am doing my Masters in Chemistry with specialisation in organic and physical chemistry. Also, I have done two projects in chemistry- One dealing with colorimetric estimation and determination of ions in solutions. Other in Solvatochromism study of fluorophores and their uses in the field of chemistry alongside their stacking properties on emission. I have also specialised in Resin chemicals.

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