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Ch.8 - Periodic Properties of the ElementsWorksheetSee all chapters
All Chapters
Ch.1 - Intro to General Chemistry
Ch.2 - Atoms & Elements
Ch.3 - Chemical Reactions
BONUS: Lab Techniques and Procedures
BONUS: Mathematical Operations and Functions
Ch.4 - Chemical Quantities & Aqueous Reactions
Ch.5 - Gases
Ch.6 - Thermochemistry
Ch.7 - Quantum Mechanics
Ch.8 - Periodic Properties of the Elements
Ch.9 - Bonding & Molecular Structure
Ch.10 - Molecular Shapes & Valence Bond Theory
Ch.11 - Liquids, Solids & Intermolecular Forces
Ch.12 - Solutions
Ch.13 - Chemical Kinetics
Ch.14 - Chemical Equilibrium
Ch.15 - Acid and Base Equilibrium
Ch.16 - Aqueous Equilibrium
Ch.17 - Chemical Thermodynamics
Ch.18 - Electrochemistry
Ch.19 - Nuclear Chemistry
Ch.20 - Organic Chemistry
Ch.22 - Chemistry of the Nonmetals
Ch.23 - Transition Metals and Coordination Compounds
The Electron Configuration
The Electron Configuration: Condensed
The Electron Configurations: Exceptions
The Electron Configuration: Ions
Paramagnetism and Diamagnetism
The Electron Configuration: Quantum Numbers
Valence Electrons of Elements
Periodic Trend: Metallic Character
Periodic Trend: Atomic Radius
Periodic Trend: Ionic Radius
Periodic Trend: Ionization Energy
Periodic Trend: Successive Ionization Energies
Periodic Trend: Electron Affinity
Periodic Trend: Electronegativity
Periodic Trend: Effective Nuclear Charge
Periodic Trend: Cumulative
Jules Bruno

An element’s electron configuration represents the location of its electrons within various shells and orbitals. From this distribution of electrons we can relate the chemical and physical properties of different elements. 

Setting up an electron configuration

Before you begin the electron configuration of an element it is important to remember the basic principles of quantum mechanics

Basics of Quantum Theory 

The main atomic sub-levels or subshells are s, p, d and f. Each atomic sub-level has a set number of atomic or electron orbitals with each being able to hold up to 2 electrons. 

Sublevels-Subshells-Orbitals-Arrows-ElectronsQuantum Mechanical Model of the Atom

Electron Configurations

Using this redesigned Periodic Table is an easy way to determine the electron configurations of all elements.  

Periodic-Table-Electron-ConfigurationPeriodic Table (Electron Configuration)

For example, what is the ground state electron configuration of Aluminum? 

STEP 1: Locate the element on the periodic table. 

Periodic-Table-Electron-ConfigurationPeriodic Table (Aluminum)

STEP 2: Starting at the 1s orbital write the orbitals and the number of electrons involved with aluminum. This follows the aufbau principle, which in german means, “to build up”. 

Periodic-Table-AluminumPeriodic Table (Aluminum)

Looking at the periodic table we find that aluminum is in Group 3A and with an atomic number of 13 has 13 electrons total. Now we simply count to aluminum while filling in our various orbitals. 

Al (13 Electrons)         1s22s22p63s23p1

If you wished to include the orbital diagram for the electron configuration for aluminum you would write the following: 

Electron-Orbital-Diagram-AluminumElectron Orbital Diagram (Aluminum)

Full vs. Condensed Electron Configurations

The full or longhand electron configuration involves going from the 1s orbital and to the last orbital of a specific element. 

Al (13 Electrons)            1s22s22p63s23p1

The condensed electron configuration begins at the noble gas just before we reach our specific element. For example, the noble gas before we reach aluminum is neon. 

Al (13 Electrons)            [Ne] 3s23p1

Substituting in the [Ne] is equivalent to writing 1s22s22p6 because both describe how 10 electrons are organized into orbitals. 

Exceptions to the Electron Configuration 

Some elements will break the order of electrons and orbitals. When an element is in its neutral form its electron configuration cannot possess a d4 or d9 orbital because of energetic reasons. 

For example, Copper (Cu) has an atomic number of 29 and so possesses 29 electrons. 

Periodic-Table-CopperPeriodic Table (Copper)

Following the steps we have done we would obtain the following electron configuration for Copper:

Electron-Configuration-CopperElectron Configuration of Copper

Remember that a neutral element is not allowed to possess a d4 or d9 orbital and so an electron from the s-orbital is promoted to the d-orbital. 

Electron-Configuration-Exception-Copper-CuElectron Configuration Exception of Copper

Connecting the electron dots

As stated previously, the electron configurations of the elements are essential in understanding the correlations between chemical and physical properties. With electron configurations we relate together Slater's rules and the Madelung rules when constructing our orbital diagrams. 

From what we've learned we can make connections with the quantum numbers, the bohr diagram when discussing the excited state vs. ground state of electrons, the periodic trends such as ionization energy, and using valence electrons when drawing Lewis Dot Structures

Jules Bruno

Jules felt a void in his life after his English degree from Duke, so he started tutoring in 2007 and got a B.S. in Chemistry from FIU. He’s exceptionally skilled at making concepts dead simple and helping students in covalent bonds of knowledge.