Tuesday 14 June 2011

Aufbau Rule for filling electrons in orbitals

The Aufbau principle or building-up principle is used to determine the electron configuration of an atom, molecule or ion. The principle postulates a hypothetical process in which an atom is "built up" by progressively adding electrons. As they are added, they assume their most stable conditions with respect to the nucleus and those electrons already there.
According to the principle, electrons fill orbitals starting at the lowest available (possible) energy states before filling higher states (e.g. 1s before 2s). The number of electrons that can occupy each orbital is limited by the Pauli exclusion principle.

Unoccupied orbitals will be filled before occupied orbitals are reused.

The Madelung energy ordering rule

Order in which orbitals are arranged by increasing energy according to the Madelung rule. Each diagonal red arrow corresponds to a different value of n+l.
  The rule is based on the total number of nodes in the atomic orbital, n+l, which is related to the energy. In the case of equal n+l values, the orbital with a lower n value is filled first. The fact that most of the ground state configurations of neutral atoms fill orbitals following this n+l,n pattern was obtained experimentally, by reference to the spectroscopic characteristics of the elements.
The Madelung energy ordering rule applies only to neutral atoms in their ground state, and even in that case, there are several elements for which it predicts configurations that differ from those determined experimentally. Copper and chromium are common examples of this property. According to the Madelung rule, the 4s orbital (n+l = 4+0 = 4) is occupied before the 3d orbital (n+l = 3+2 = 5). The rule then predicts the configuration of 29Cu to be 1s22s22p63s2 3p64s23d9, abbreviated [Ar]4s23d9 where [Ar] denotes the configuration of Ar (the preceding noble gas). However the experimental electronic configuration of the copper atom is [Ar]4s13d10. By filling the 3d orbital, copper can be in a lower energy state. Similarly, chromium takes the electronic configuration of [Ar]4s13d5 instead of [Ar]4s23d4. In this case, chromium has a half-full 3d shell.

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