Draw, interpret, and convert between Lewis (Kekule), Condensed, and Bond-line Structures

Note: The review of general les-grizzlys-catalans.orgistry in sections 1.3 - 1.6 is integrated into the above Learning Objective for organic les-grizzlys-catalans.orgistry in sections 1.7 and 1.8.

You are watching: What is the electron configuration of s

The electron configuration of an atom is the representation of the arrangement of electrons distributed among the orbital shells and subshells. Commonly, the electron configuration is used to describe the orbitals of an atom in its ground state, but it can also be used to represent an atom that has ionized into a cation or anion by compensating with the loss of or gain of electrons in their subsequent orbitals. Many of the physical and les-grizzlys-catalans.orgical properties of elements can be correlated to their unique electron configurations. The valence electrons, electrons in the outermost shell, are the determining factor for the unique les-grizzlys-catalans.orgistry of the element.


Before assigning the electrons of an atom into orbitals, one must become familiar with the basic concepts of electron configurations. Every element on the Periodic Table consists of atoms, which are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electrons exhibit a negative charge and are found around the nucleus of the atom in electron orbitals, defined as the volume of space in which the electron can be found within 95% probability. The four different types of orbitals (s,p,d, and f) have different shapes, and one orbital can hold a maximum of two electrons. The p, d, and f orbitals have different sublevels, thus can hold more electrons.

As stated, the electron configuration of each element is unique to its position on the periodic table. The energy level is determined by the period and the number of electrons is given by the atomic number of the element. Orbitals on different energy levels are similar to each other, but they occupy different areas in space. The 1s orbital and 2s orbital both have the characteristics of an s orbital (radial nodes, spherical volume probabilities, can only hold two electrons, etc.) but, as they are found in different energy levels, they occupy different spaces around the nucleus. Each orbital can be represented by specific blocks on the periodic table. The s-block is the region of the alkali metals including helium (Groups 1 & 2), the d-block are the transition metals (Groups 3 to 12), the p-block are the main group elements from Groups 13 to 18, and the f-block are the lanthanides and actinides series.

api/deki/files/1282/subshells.jpg?revision=1&size=bestfit&width=196&height=285" />

Example 1: Hydrogen and Helium

The first three quantum numbers of an electron are n=1, l=0, ml=0. Only two electrons can correspond to these, which would be either ms = -1/2 or ms = +1/2. As we already know from our studies of quantum numbers and electron orbitals, we can conclude that these four quantum numbers refer to the 1s subshell. If only one of the ms values are given then we would have 1s1 (denoting hydrogen) if both are given we would have 1s2 (denoting helium). Visually, this is be represented as:


As shown, the 1s subshell can hold only two electrons and, when filled, the electrons have opposite spins.

See more: Deli 101: How Many Pounds Of Deli Meat Per Person, Lunch Meat Per Person

Example 2: Oxygen and Nitrogen

If we look at the correct electron configuration of the Nitrogen (Z = 7) atom, a very important element in the biology of plants: 1s2 2s2 2p3


We can clearly see that p orbitals are half-filled as there are three electrons and three p orbitals. This is because Hund"s Rule states that the three electrons in the 2p subshell will fill all the empty orbitals first before filling orbitals with electrons in them. If we look at the element after Nitrogen in the same period, Oxygen (Z = 8) its electron configuration is: 1s2 2s2 2p4 (for an atom).