Sulfuryl chloride (SO2Cl2) lewis structure, molecular geometry, polar or nonpolar, hybridization

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SO2Cl2 lewis structure molecular geometry

Sulfuryl chloride has a pungent odor, it appears as a colorless fuming liquid. It has a chemical formula of SO2Cl2. Its alternative name is Sulphuryl dichloride. 

In this article, we will discuss SO2Cl2 lewis structure, molecular geometry, polar or nonpolar, its hybridization, etc.

Sulfuryl chloride is corrosive to metal and tissue. Exposure to this can be dangerous since it is very toxic by inhalation. 

Name of MoleculeSulfuryl chloride
Chemical formulaSO2Cl2
Molecular geometry of SO2Cl2Tetrahedral
Electron geometry of SO2Cl2Tetrahedral
NaturePolar molecule
Total Valence electron for SO2Cl232

How to draw lewis structure of SO2Cl2?

SO2Cl2 Lewis structure is made up of one sulfur atom, two oxygen, and two chlorine atom. The sulfur is kept at the central position and other atoms are at the surrounding position. The lewis structure of SO2Cl2 contains 2 double bonds connected with oxygen atoms and 2 single bonds connected with chlorine atoms.

The drawing process of the SO2Cl2 lewis structure is easy and simple. Let’s see how to do it.

Follow some steps for drawing the Lewis structure for SO2Cl2

1. Count total valence electron in SO2Cl2

In the very first step, we will count the total valence electron in the SO2Cl2 molecule. To calculate the valence electron, look at the periodic group of the individual atoms – sulfur, oxygen, and chlorine.

The chlorine atom belongs to the periodic group 7A or 17th in the periodic table, hence, the valence electron in the chlorine atom is 7. The oxygen and sulfur atom are situated in the same periodic group which is 6A or 16th in the periodic table.

Hence, the valence electron in both sulfur and oxygen is 6.

⇒ Valence electron in chlorine atom = 7

⇒ Valence electron in oxygen atom = 6

⇒ Valence electron in sulfur atom = 6

∴ Total number of valence electrons available for the SO2Cl2 Lewis structure = 6 + 6(2) +  7(2) = 32 valence electrons         [∴ SO2Cl2 molecule has one sulfur, two oxygen, and two chlorine atoms]

valence electron in SO2Cl2 lewis structure

2. Find the least electronegative atom and place it at center

Now we will find the least electronegative atom in the SO2Cl2 compound, after that, we will place it at the center in the lewis diagram and the rest atoms will be spread around it.

The electronegativity value of the sulfur atom is 2.58, for a chlorine atom, it is 3.16. And for oxygen atoms, the electronegativity is 3.44.

Hence, the sulfur atom is the least electronegative atom in the SO2Cl2 compound, therefore, we will put the sulfur atom at a central position in the lewis diagram.

central atom of SO2Cl2

3. Connect outer atoms to central atom with a single bond

In this step, we simply connect each outer atom(chlorine and oxygen) to the central atom(sulfur) with the help of a single bond.

skeletal structure of so2cl2

Now count the valence electron used in the above structure. A single bond means two electrons, in the above structure, four single bonds are used for connecting the two chlorine and two oxygen atom to the sulfur central atom.

Therefore, (4 single bonds × 2) = 8 valence electrons are used in the above structure from the total of 32 valence electrons available for drawing the lewis structure of SO2Cl2.

∴ (32 – 8) = 24 valence electrons

So, we are left with 24 valence electrons more.

4. Place remaining electrons on outer atoms and complete their octet

In this step, we will put the remaining valence electron on the outer atom first for completing their octet. In a SO2Cl2 molecule, the outer atom is oxygen and chlorine. And both these require 8 electrons in their outer shell to complete the octet.

completing octet of outer atoms in SO2Cl2 molecule

As you see in the above figure, we have placed the 6 electrons represented as dots around each outer atom(chlorine and oxygen). This is because chlorine and oxygen atoms already have 2 electrons(one single bond) in their outer shell.

Hence, both these only require 6 more electrons for completing the octet.

Now once again count the total valence electron in the above structure.

∴ (4 single bond × 2 electrons + 24 electrons represented as dots) = 32 valence electrons are used in the above structure.

Remember, we had a total of 32 valence electrons available for drawing the lewis structure of SO2Cl2, and in the above structure, we used all valence electrons.

Now just check the formal charge for the above structure to know whether it is stable or not.

5. Check the stability with the help of a formal charge concept

The lesser the formal charge on atoms, the better is the stability of the lewis diagram.

To calculate the formal charge on an atom. Use the formula given below-

⇒ Formal charge = (valence electrons – Nonbonding electrons –  1/2 bonding electrons)

Let’s count the formal charge on the chlorine atom first.

For chlorine atom:

⇒ Valence electrons of chlorine = 7

⇒ Nonbonding electrons on chlorine= 6

⇒ Bonding electrons around chlorine(1 single bond) = 2

∴ (7 – 6 – 2/2) = 0 formal charge on chlorine atoms.

For oxygen atom:

⇒ Valence electrons of oxygen = 6

⇒ Nonbonding electrons on oxygen= 6

⇒ Bonding electrons around oxygen(1 single bond) = 2

∴ (6 – 6 – 2/2) = -1 formal charge on oxygen atoms.

 For sulfur atom

⇒ Valence electrons of sulfur = 6

⇒ Nonbonding electrons on sulfur = 0

⇒ Bonding electrons around sulfur (4 single bonds) = 8

∴ (6 – 0 – 8/2) = +2 formal charge on the sulfur central atom.

formal charge in SO2Cl2 lewis structure

The above SO2Cl2 lewis structure is not stable because of the high formal charge. To reduce this, we have to rearrange the electrons and form multiple bonds.

All you have to do is to convert the one lone pair of each oxygen atom to a bond pair.

The central atom Sulfur has expanded octet that means it can hold more than 8 electrons in its valence shell.

Sulfur having valence electrons in the 3rd energy level, will also have access to the 3d sublevel, thus allowing for more than 8 electrons.

Reducing formal charge in SO2Cl2 lewis structure

Now you can calculate the formal charge for each atom in the above structure, you will get the formal charge for every atom equal to zero.

SO2Cl2 lewis structure

SO2Cl2 lewis structure

That’s all this is our most stable and appropriate lewis structure of SO2Cl2.

What is the molecular geometry of SO2Cl2?

The molecular geometry of SO2Cl2 is tetrahedral because the central atom Sulfur is bonded with four atoms(two oxygen and two chlorine) and it contains no lone pair that means, it is an AX4 type molecule.

A represent central atom

X represent the number of bonded atom to central atom

According to VSEPR theory or chart, the AX4 type molecule forms tetrahedral molecular geometry or shape.

Molecular geometry or shape of SO2Cl2

Hybridization of SO2Cl2

We can calculate the hybridization of SO2Cl2 using the steric number formula given below:

∴ Steric number of SO2Cl2 = (Number of bonded atoms attached to sulfur + Lone pair on sulfur atom)

As per the SO2Cl2 lewis structure, the sulfur atom is bonded with four atoms(two chlorine and two oxygen) and contains zero lone pairs.

∴ Steric number of SO2Cl2 = (4 + 0) = 4

So, for the steric number of 4, we get the hybridization of SO2Cl2 is Sp3.

The bond angle of SO2Cl2

The bond angle in SO2Cl2 is as follow – ∠O = S = O is 120° and ∠Cl – S – Cl is 111°

SO2Cl2 bond angle

Is SO2Cl2 polar or nonpolar?

Is SO2Cl2 polar or non-polar? SO2Cl2 is a polar molecule because of its asymmetrical structure that causes uneven charge distribution and that contributes to the nonzero dipole moment and makes this molecule polar in nature.

Also, the sulfur atom gets a positive charge because of its less electronegativity and both chlorine and oxygen atom gets a negative charge because of their high electronegativity.

The separation of positive and negative charges leads to the dipole moment in SO2Cl2 which makes it polar in nature.

“SO2Cl2 is polar. It can be seen in its tetrahedral geometry that its molecules are not directly opposite one another, so they can have dipole moments these moments cause the polarity of compound.”


How many bonding pairs and lone pairs are present around the central atom in the lewis structure of SO2Cl2?

Bonding pairs are the pair of electrons that are in a bond. A single bond has one bond pair means 2 bonding electrons. 

Lone pairs are those represented as dots in the lewis diagram that do not take part in the formation of bonds and are also called nonbonding electrons.

By looking at the SO2Cl2 lewis structure, we see that sulfur is the central atom that has zero lone pair and is attached with 6 bond pairs(2 double bonds that count as 4 bond pairs + 2 single bonds that count as 2 bond pairs).

Why the Sulfur atom in the SO2Cl2 lewis structure contains more than 8 electrons and violate the octet rule?

It is usually seen that the atom completes its octet when it has 8 electrons in its valence shell. But Sulfur central atom in the SO2Cl2 lewis structure has 12 electrons(2 double bonds that contain 8 electrons + 2 single bonds that contain 4 electrons).

So, here, Sulfur violates the octet as it contains more than 8 electrons. This is because it has the ability to expand the octet.

“Sulfur having valence electrons in the 3rd energy level will also have access to the 3d sublevel, thus allowing for more than 8 electrons.”

Preparation and Reactions of Sulfuryl chloride

When one mole of sulfur dioxide and one mole of chlorine reacts with each other in presence of activated carbon, they prepare 1 mole of sulfuryl chloride.

⇒ SO2 + Cl2 → SO2Cl2

Sulfuryl chloride is also prepared by the oxidation of thionyl chloride with HgO and MnO2.

⇒ SOCl2 + HgO → ClSSCl + HgCl2 + SO2Cl2

⇒ 2SOCl2 + MnO2 → SO2 + MnCl2 + SO2Cl2

When one mole of sulfuryl chlorine reacts with two moles of the water molecule, it produces two moles of hydrogen chloride gas and one mole of sulfuric acid. 

⇒ SO2Cl2 + 2H2O → 2HCl + H2SO4

When sulfur tetrachloride is treated with the 2 moles of nitric acid and with some water, it forms sulfuric acid, hydrogen chloride, and nitrogen dioxide.

⇒ SCl4 + 2HNO3 + 2H2O → H2SO4 + 2NO2 + 4HCl

Properties of Sulfuryl chloride

  • It starts to decompose when heated above 100ºC.
  • Its boiling point is 69.4 ºC and its melting point is – 54.1 °C.
  • It is miscible with benzene, toluene, chloroform, CCl4, etc.
  • It is toxic as well as corrosive in nature.
  • When contact with water, it releases hydrogen chloride.
  • The oxidation state of the sulfur atom in SO2Cl2 is +6.
  • Sulfuryl chloride is a source of chlorine.


  • The total valence electron is available for drawing the SO2Cl2 lewis structure is 32.
  • The steric number of the sulfur central atom in the SO2Cl2 molecule is 4, thus, it forms Sp3 hybridization.
  • SO2Cl2 is a polar molecule because of asymmetrical geometry that causes the non-uniform distribution of charge in the molecule.
  • In the SO2Cl2 lewis structure, a total of 10 lone pairs and 6 bond pairs are present.
  • The molecular geometry of SO2Cl2 is tetrahedral and its electron geometry is also tetrahedral.
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