Science Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

There is a relationship between the electron configuration of the elements and their chemical and physical properties. Is this statement true, never true, or sometimes true?

Expert Answers info

ncchemist eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,405 answers

starTop subjects are Science, Math, and Social Sciences

This statement is true.  There is a relationship between the electron configuration of an element and its resulting chemical/physical properties.  Atoms of an element like to have a full octet of electrons in their valence shells.  This corresponds to full s and p orbitals and is a very energetically stable configuration.  Only the noble gasses (group 18) have this configuration naturally.  Other elements need to lose or gain electrons to obtain an octet.  As a result, group 1 and 2 elements tend to lose 1 and 2 electrons respectively to form cations, while groups 16 and 17 tend to gain 2 and 1 electrons respectively to form anions.  These ions, in turn, form ionic bonds with each other.  Carbon, being in group 14, would need to either gain or lose 4 electrons to achieve an octet.  Since this is really difficult to do ionically, carbon tends to form covalent bonds with other atoms to gain an octet of electrons for itself.  Finally, the transition metal elements have d orbital electrons which is why they can form a wide variety of ions and bonding patterns.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial