The electron configuration of an element is the arrangement of its electrons in its atomic orbitals. By knowing the electron configuration of an element, we can predict and explain a great deal of its tasiilaq.netistry.
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The Aufbau Principle
We construct the periodic table by following the aufbau principle (from German, meaning “building up”). First we determine the number of electrons in the atom; then we add electrons one at a time to the lowest-energy orbital available without violating the Pauli principle. We use the orbital energy diagram of Figure 2.1.1, recognizing that each orbital can hold two electrons, one with spin up ↑, corresponding to ms = +½, which is arbitrarily written first, and one with spin down ↓, corresponding to ms = −½. A filled orbital is indicated by ↑↓, in which the electron spins are said to be paired. Here is a stasiilaq.netatic orbital diagram for a hydrogen atom in its ground state:
Some authors express the orbital diagram horizontally (removing the implicit energy axis and the colon symbol):
Unless there is a reason to show the empty higher energy orbitals, these are often omitted in an orbital diagram:
A neutral helium atom, with an atomic number of 2 (Z = 2), has two electrons. We place one electron in the orbital that is lowest in energy, the 1s orbital. From the Pauli exclusion principle, we know that an orbital can contain two electrons with opposite spin, so we place the second electron in the same orbital as the first but pointing down, so that the electrons are paired. The orbital diagram for the helium atom is therefore
written as 1s2, where the superscript 2 implies the pairing of spins. Otherwise, our configuration would violate the Pauli principle.
The next element is lithium, with Z = 3 and three electrons in the neutral atom. We know that the 1s orbital can hold two of the electrons with their spins paired. Figure 2.1.1 tells us that the next lowest energy orbital is 2s, so the orbital diagram for lithium is
When we reach boron, with Z = 5 and five electrons, we must place the fifth electron in one of the 2p orbitals. Because all three 2p orbitals are degenerate, it doesn’t matter which one we select. The electron configuration of boron is 1s2 2s2 2p1:
At oxygen, with Z = 8 and eight electrons, we have no choice. One electron must be paired with another in one of the 2p orbitals, which gives us two unpaired electrons and a 1s2 2s2 2p4 electron configuration. Because all the 2p orbitals are degenerate, it doesn’t matter which one has the pair of electrons.
When we reach neon, with Z = 10, we have filled the 2p subshell, giving a 1s2 2s2 2p6 electron configuration and an orbital diagram of:
Notice that for neon, as for helium, all the orbitals through the 2p level are completely filled. This fact is very important in dictating both the tasiilaq.netical reactivity and the bonding of helium and neon, as you will see.
Draw an orbital diagram and use it to derive the electron configuration of phosphorus, Z = 15. What is its valence electron configuration?
Given: atomic number
Asked for: orbital diagram and valence electron configuration for phosphorus
Strategy:Locate the nearest noble gas preceding phosphorus in the periodic table. Then subtract its number of electrons from those in phosphorus to obtain the number of valence electrons in phosphorus. Referring to Figure 2.1.1, draw an orbital diagram to represent those valence orbitals. Following Hund’s rule, place the valence electrons in the available orbitals, beginning with the orbital that is lowest in energy. Write the electron configuration from your orbital diagram. Ignore the inner orbitals (those that correspond to the electron configuration of the nearest noble gas) and write the valence electron configuration for phosphorus.
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A Because phosphorus is in the third row of the periodic table, we know that it has a
B The additional five electrons are placed in the next available orbitals, which Figure 2.1.1 tells us are the 3s and 3p orbitals: