Question
Tue May 22, 2012 By:

In the case of Lewis structures, to give octet to the central atom, we move electron pairs and make double bonds, in this scenario,then Why cannot we give double bond between Boron and Fluorine while drawing BF3 molecule? Why BF3 is having incomplete octet?

Expert Reply
Wed May 23, 2012

the fluorine atoms possess extra lone pairs that they can use to make additional bonds with boron,  and you might think that all you have to do is make one lone pair into a bond and the structure will be correct. If we add one double bond between boron and one of the fluorines we get the following Lewis Structure :

The fluorine that shares a double bond with boron has six electrons around it (four from its two lone pairs of electrons and one each from its two bonds with boron). This is one less electron than the number of valence electrons it would have naturally (Group Seven elements have seven valence electrons), so it has a formal charge of +1. The two flourines that share single bonds with boron have seven electrons around them (six from their three lone pairs and one from their single bonds with boron). This is the same amount as the number of valence electrons they would have on their own, so they both have a formal charge of zero. Finally, boron has four electrons around it (one from each of its four bonds shared with fluorine). This is one more electron than the number of valence electrons that boron would have on its own, and as such boron has a formal charge of -1.
 
 
However, this structure contradicts one of the major rules of formal charges: Negative formal charges are supposed to be found on the more electronegative atom(s) in a bond, but in the structure depicted in Figure, a positive formal charge is found on fluorine, which not only is the most electronegative element in the structure,  but the most electronegative element in the entire periodic table (4.0). Boron on the other hand, with the much lower electronegativity of 2.0, has the negative formal charge in this structure. This formal charge-electronegativity disagreement makes this double-bonded structure impossible.
Ask the Expert