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To take this a step further, an atom is at its most stable (and therefore unreactive ) when all its orbitals are full. On the other hand, an atom is least stable (and therefore most reactive ) when its valence electron orbitals are not full. This will make more sense when we go on to look at chemical bonding in a later chapter. To put it simply, the valence electrons are largely responsible for an element's chemical behaviour and elements that have the same number of valence electrons often have similar chemical properties.

One final point to note about electron configurations is stability. Which configurations are stable and which are not? Very simply, the most stable configurations are the ones that have full energy levels. These configurations occur in the noble gases. The noble gases are very stable elements that do not react easily (if at all) with any other elements. This is due to the full energy levels. All elements would like to reach the most stable electron configurations, i.e. all elements want to be noble gases. This principle of stability is sometimes referred to as the octet rule. An octet is a set of 8, and the number of electrons in a full energy level is 8.

Experiment: flame tests


To determine what colour a metal cation will cause a flame to be.


Watch glass, bunsen burner, methanol, bamboo sticks, metal salts (e.g. NaCl , CuCl 2 , CaCl 2 , KCl , etc. ) and metal powders (e.g. copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc.)

Be careful when working with bunsen burners as you can easily burn yourself. Make sure all scarves/loose clothing is securely tucked in and long hair is tied back. Ensure that you work in a well-ventilated space and that there is nothing flammable near the open flame.


For each salt or powder do the following:
  1. Dip a clean bamboo stick into the methanol
  2. Dip the stick into the salt or powder
  3. Wave the stick through the flame from the bunsen burner. DO NOT hold the stick in the flame, but rather wave it back and forth through the flame.
  4. Observe what happens


Record your results in a table, listing the metal salt and the colour of the flame.


You should have observed different colours for each of the metal salts and powders that you tested.

The above experiment on flame tests relates to the line emission spectra of the metals. These line emission spectra are a direct result of the arrangement of the electrons in metals.

Energy diagrams and electrons

  1. Draw Aufbau diagrams to show the electron configuration of each of the following elements:
    1. magnesium
    2. potassium
    3. sulphur
    4. neon
    5. nitrogen
  2. Use the Aufbau diagrams you drew to help you complete the following table:
    Element No. of energy levels No. of core electrons No. of valence electrons Electron configuration (standard notation)
  3. Rank the elements used above in order of increasing reactivity . Give reasons for the order you give.

Group work : building a model of an atom

Earlier in this chapter, we talked about different 'models' of the atom. In science, one of the uses of models is that they can help us to understand the structure of something that we can't see. In the case of the atom, models help us to build a picture in our heads of what the atom looks like.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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The fundamental frequency of a sonometer wire streached by a load of relative density 's'are n¹ and n² when the load is in air and completly immersed in water respectively then the lation n²/na is
Mukesh Reply
Properties of longitudinal waves
Sharoon Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Sep 30, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11305/1.7
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