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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Derive the predicted ground-state electron configurations of atoms
  • Identify and explain exceptions to predicted electron configurations for atoms and ions
  • Relate electron configurations to element classifications in the periodic table

Having introduced the basics of atomic structure and quantum mechanics, we can use our understanding of quantum numbers to determine how atomic orbitals relate to one another. This allows us to determine which orbitals are occupied by electrons in each atom. The specific arrangement of electrons in orbitals of an atom determines many of the chemical properties of that atom.

Orbital energies and atomic structure

The energy of atomic orbitals increases as the principal quantum number, n , increases. In any atom with two or more electrons, the repulsion between the electrons makes energies of subshells with different values of l differ so that the energy of the orbitals increases within a shell in the order s < p < d < f. [link] depicts how these two trends in increasing energy relate. The 1 s orbital at the bottom of the diagram is the orbital with electrons of lowest energy. The energy increases as we move up to the 2 s and then 2 p , 3 s , and 3 p orbitals, showing that the increasing n value has more influence on energy than the increasing l value for small atoms. However, this pattern does not hold for larger atoms. The 3 d orbital is higher in energy than the 4 s orbital. Such overlaps continue to occur frequently as we move up the chart.

A table entitled, “Subshell electron capacity,” is shown. Along the left side of the table, an upward pointing arrow labeled, “E,” is drawn. The table includes three columns. The first column is narrow and is labeled, “2.” The second is slightly wider and is labeled, “6.” The third is slightly wider yet and is labeled, “10.” The fourth is the widest and is labeled, “14.” The first column begins at the very bottom with a horizontal line segment labeled “1 s.” Evenly spaced line segments continue up to 7 s near the top of the column. In the second column, a horizontal dashed line segment labeled, “2 p,” appears at a level between the 2 s and 3 s levels. Similarly 3 p appears at a level between 3 s and 4 s, 4 p appears just below 5 s, 5 p appears just below 6 s, and 6 p appears just below 7 s. In the third column, a dashed line labeled, “3 d,” appears just below the level of 4 p. Similarly, 4 d appears just below 5 p and 5 d appears just below 6 p. Six d however appears above the levels of both 6 p and 7 s. The far right column entries begin with a dashed line labeled, “4 f,” positioned at a level just below 5 d. Similarly, a second dashed line segment appears just below the level of 6 d, which is labeled, “5 f.”
Generalized energy-level diagram for atomic orbitals in an atom with two or more electrons (not to scale).

Electrons in successive atoms on the periodic table tend to fill low-energy orbitals first. Thus, many students find it confusing that, for example, the 5 p orbitals fill immediately after the 4 d , and immediately before the 6 s . The filling order is based on observed experimental results, and has been confirmed by theoretical calculations. As the principal quantum number, n , increases, the size of the orbital increases and the electrons spend more time farther from the nucleus. Thus, the attraction to the nucleus is weaker and the energy associated with the orbital is higher (less stabilized). But this is not the only effect we have to take into account. Within each shell, as the value of l increases, the electrons are less penetrating (meaning there is less electron density found close to the nucleus), in the order s > p > d > f . Electrons that are closer to the nucleus slightly repel electrons that are farther out, offsetting the more dominant electron–nucleus attractions slightly (recall that all electrons have −1 charges, but nuclei have + Z charges). This phenomenon is called shielding and will be discussed in more detail in the next section. Electrons in orbitals that experience more shielding are less stabilized and thus higher in energy. For small orbitals (1 s through 3 p ), the increase in energy due to n is more significant than the increase due to l ; however, for larger orbitals the two trends are comparable and cannot be simply predicted. We will discuss methods for remembering the observed order.

Questions & Answers

wat are hydrocarbon s
Opio Reply
I think they are molecules that comprise only of hydrogen and carbon atoms ( they are organic if I'm not mistaken)
Mmathabo
am new here can I join
Yeko
yes u can
Benita
give two properties of liquid
Grace Reply
molecules are slightly packed and they follow the shape of a container.
Obedie
what is measurement
Isaiah Reply
is the comparison of an unknown quantity with a fixed quantity of the same kind
Sahada
How does an element differ from a compound? How are they similar?
Adeola Reply
an element is an indivisible particles that can take part in a reaction and consist of smaller or tiny particles i.e proton, neutrons and electron while a compound is when two or more element chemically combine together. They are similar when they are homogeneous compound. they take the same rxn.
Yusuf
an element is s chemically pure substance containing a particular type of atoms.. A COMPOUND is a substance containing atoms from different elements..
Inemesit
How to get the Lewis formula of SeCl+3
Erica Reply
hi,I'm new here can I join the conversation
EZEA
what is the structural formula for starch
EZEA Reply
Starch is a mixture (of chemicals) of amylose and amylopectin. Both are macromolecules and polymers. You can search on wikipedia.
Abdelkarim
what is the roles of filter bed
Fathmat
what is the roles of Alu m
Fathmat
what is the roles of chlorine
Fathmat
Roles can be classified or correlate it to different areas: For example: Chlorine can be used in reactions (in industry) to manufacture HCl, which then can be used for other things. Or in swimming pools to kill bacteria. Or as a component in compounds with pharmaceutical roles (drugs). For Al:
Abdelkarim
Its dentisty value is suitable to be used in alloys (mixture of metals) in aircraft bodies. Also, Aluminium foils, Tin cans,.. Some of them are also in Al overhead cables in streets and long roads.
Abdelkarim
what is chemistry
Maxamed
what is the meaning of exceedingly
Yushao Reply
it is an adverb which means extremely
Rohini
what is atomic chemistry?
Gladys Reply
Lewis structure for no3
Gladys
Lewis structure for no3
Gladys
Yes
Gillian
Lewis structure for no3
Nomvelo
what is weak acid
Muhammed Reply
It is an acid which partially ionises in water.
Abdelkarim
what is incandescence
Clifton
what makes it glow
Clifton
why is it red, irange and yellow in color
Clifton
hello am new here and I want to join you
Aliyu
hello
Clifton
hi
Aliyu
too
Gillian
hello i am new here please i want to join this group
Paul
Hi, I'm also new here
Salaudeen
Hi
Keeya
hello guys !!
Sourav
what is pressure?
Slark Reply
The force applied to suction Area of the body
Ahmed
Matter composed of exceedingly small paticle called atom.
Yushao
questions related to metals
Regina Reply
occurrence and preparation of the representatives metals
Regina
list the 20, periodic table and their symbols
Fathmat Reply
hydrogen:h helium;he lithium:l beryllium:be Boron:b Carbon;C Nitrogen:n Oxygen:O FLUORINE:f Neon:n Sodium:s Magnesium:mg Aluminum:a Silicon:s Phosphorus:p Sulphur:s Chlorine:c Argon;a Potassium:p Calcium:c
Benita
Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, neon, sodium, magnesium, aluminium, silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, chlorine, argon, potassium, calcium
Cudjoe
Welcome
Gillian
there are 118 known elements ...you numbnuts
what is a solute
Ekezie Reply
Any substance that is disolved in a liqid solvent to create a solution
Fifa
sorry liquid
Fifa
it's a liquid substance
Fathmat
hello group
Ayomide
is the substance that dissolves in the solvent
Amos
so is HCl ionic compound
Honest Reply
No, covalent compound ➡️ molecule. As both H and Cl are non-metals and and form covalent bind by sharing valence e-. But can fully ionice in water forming H+ (a proton, a reason for acidity) and Cl- (anion =Chloride) Hydrogen Chloride is a gas at room; Hydrochloric acid = HCl (aq), dissolved in w
Abdelkarim
Form covalenr bond*
Abdelkarim
The question marks are an emoji in the first sentence is an unread emoji. HCl Covalent compund -> molecule
Abdelkarim
Hi.
Queen
Hi
Calvin
Yh
Cudjoe
yes
Amos
what is chemistry
Chukwu Reply
is the study of composition of substances and the way they behave under different conditions
Amos
how do calculate n1 though n6 any help on understanding the concept
Clifton
is the study of properties of matter and it's component
Grace
Practice Key Terms 7

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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