Electron Configuration and the Periodic Table

f

5f 4f

d
5d

p
5p 4d 4p 3d

s
6s 5s

These diagrams show how the order of atomic energy levels corresponds to the arrangement of elements in the periodic table. With each increment in atomic number one electron is added to the 1s energy diagram. Electrons are added from the lowest level. Each f d level can accommodate at most an electron pair at which point that 2s 2p 5f level is considered “full” (Pauli exclusion principle). Once a level5d 3p 4f 3s (or a set of degenerate levels) is filled, a jump in energy is required to 4s 3d 4p reach the energy of the next available level. This jump corresponds to4d 4d 5p movement to a new 5s section of the periodic table (an exception is the 5d 6s filling of the 1s level, in which case there is a jump from6p upper left the 7s 6d 3d corner to the upper right corner).

1s 2s 3s 4s 5s 6s 7s 3d 4d 5d 6d 4f 5f 2p 3p 4p 5p 6p
4f 5f

4s 3p

p

s

energy

3s

5p

6s 5s
2p

4p 4s 3p

2s

2s

1s

Total Energy

The most significant point is this: the degeneracy in the energy levels matches the number of elements in each section of the periodic table (note the color coding 2p between the two diagrams).

3s

degenerate levels in a way that creates the largest magnetic moment (spin aligned configuration). Carbon is an atom with six electrons. The most stable configuration is found by adding electrons to empty. the remaining two electrons must be distributed between three degenerate levels. After filling the 1s and 2s levels. Hund’s rule tells how to do this. ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ 2p ↑ ↑ 2p 2s 1s .Hund’s Rule favored ↑ 2p ↑ ↑ ↑ 2s ↑ 2s ↑ ↑ 1s ↑ 1s ↑ Three possible electron configurations for carbon are shown.

Table of Electron Configurations for the 1st 18 Elements Element H He Li Be B C N O F Ne Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar Ground state configuration 1s1 1s2 1s22s1 1s22s2 1s22s22p1 1s22s22p2 1s22s22p3 1s22s22p4 1s22s22p5 1s22s22p6 1s22s22p63s1 1s22s22p63s2 1s22s22p63s23p1 1s22s22p63s23p2 1s22s22p63s23p3 1s22s22p63s23p4 1s22s22p63s23p5 1s22s22p63s23p6 Valence electrons H He Li Be B 1s 2s 2p 3s 3p ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ ↓↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↓↑ C N O F Ne Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar .

An atom’s most stable state is obtained by putting electrons in the lowest energy levels. discrete values of energy known as energy levels are allowed. Did you ever wonder why 8? Why not the rule of 6. For carbon and other period-two elements. Only certain. This lowest level holds a very stable pair of electrons known as the core electrons. or 10? Probably you’ve never thought about it. Each level can accommodate. an electron pair. If a pair of electrons is added to each of these four levels – eight in all – the valence shell is filled. so you know that 8 is a very special number in chemistry. one of which is significantly lower than the other four. The four remaining levels – the valence shell – accommodate the electrons that are involved in chemical bonding. at most. if you were asked? Here’s my answer. Could you provide a simple answer to the question.Why Ei8ht? You’ve heard of the octet rule. Maybe you’ve just accepted the octet rule on face value. there are a total of five important energy levels. “Why eight?” The energy of an electron attracted to a point charge is not continuously variable. Why eight? Filling an atom’s valence shell with an octet gives it special stability. . “Why 8?”.

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