NF3 Lewis structure

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NF3 Lewis Structure
NF3 Lewis structure | Image: Learnool

NF3 (nitrogen trifluoride) has one nitrogen atom and three fluorine atoms.

In the NF3 Lewis structure, there are three single bonds around the nitrogen atom, with three fluorine atoms attached to it. Each fluorine atom has three lone pairs, and the nitrogen atom has one lone pair.


Here’s how you can easily draw the NF3 Lewis structure step by step:

#1 Draw a rough skeleton structure
#2 Mention lone pairs on the atoms
#3 If needed, mention formal charges on the atoms

Now, let’s take a closer look at each step mentioned above.

#1 Draw a rough skeleton structure

  • First, determine the total number of valence electrons
Periodic table | Image: Learnool

In the periodic table, nitrogen lies in group 15, and fluorine lies in group 17.

Hence, nitrogen has five valence electrons and fluorine has seven valence electrons.

Since NF3 has one nitrogen atom and three fluorine atoms, so…

Valence electrons of one nitrogen atom = 5 × 1 = 5
Valence electrons of three fluorine atoms = 7 × 3 = 21

And the total valence electrons = 5 + 21 = 26

  • Second, find the total electron pairs

We have a total of 26 valence electrons. And when we divide this value by two, we get the value of total electron pairs.

Total electron pairs = total valence electrons ÷ 2

So the total electron pairs = 26 ÷ 2 = 13

  • Third, determine the central atom

We have to place the least electronegative atom at the center.

Since nitrogen is less electronegative than fluorine, assume that the central atom is nitrogen.

Therefore, place nitrogen in the center and fluorines on either side.

  • And finally, draw the rough sketch
NF3 Lewis Structure (Step 1)
Rough sketch of NF3 Lewis structure | Image: Learnool

#2 Mention lone pairs on the atoms

Here, we have a total of 13 electron pairs. And three N — F bonds are already marked. So we have to only mark the remaining ten electron pairs as lone pairs on the sketch.

Also remember that both (nitrogen and fluorine) are the period 2 elements, so they can not keep more than 8 electrons in their last shell.

Always start to mark the lone pairs from outside atoms. Here, the outside atoms are fluorines.

So for each fluorine, there are three lone pairs, and for nitrogen, there is one lone pair.

Mark the lone pairs on the sketch as follows:

NF3 Lewis Structure (Step 2)
Lone pairs marked, and got the stable Lewis structure of NF3 | Image: Learnool

#3 If needed, mention formal charges on the atoms

Use the following formula to calculate the formal charges on atoms:

Formal charge = valence electrons – nonbonding electrons – ½ bonding electrons

For nitrogen atom, formal charge = 5 – 2 – ½ (6) = 0

For each fluorine atom, formal charge = 7 – 6 – ½ (2) = 0

Here, both nitrogen and fluorine atoms do not have charges, so no need to mark the charges.

In the above structure, you can see that the central atom (nitrogen) forms an octet. And the outside atoms (fluorines) also form an octet. Hence, the octet rule is satisfied.

Therefore, this structure is the stable Lewis structure of NF3.

Next: CCl4 Lewis structure

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