2.33 6th Edition: Electron Transitions

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Manya Bali 4E
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:23 am

2.33 6th Edition: Electron Transitions

Postby Manya Bali 4E » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:14 pm

Question 2.33 from the 6th Edition asks: "Which of the following increase when an electron in a lithium atom undergoes a transition from the 1s-orbital to a 2p-orbital? (a) Energy of the electron (b) Value of n (c) Value of l (d) Radius of atom."

I understand that the specific electron will gain energy as it moves farther away from the nucleus (a), and that n (b) and l (c) will increase for that electron. However, I don't understand why the radius would change considering that, in lithium, there are 3 electrons. At least one atom should already be in the 2p-orbital right? So wouldn't the size of the atom stay the same?

Anushi Patel 1J
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:19 am
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Re: 2.33 6th Edition: Electron Transitions

Postby Anushi Patel 1J » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:41 pm

I'm not sure, but I think it's because orbitals aren't rigid structures, but rather probability distributions of where the electron could be. When the electron gets excited, it moves away from the nucleus to a higher orbital, meaning that two of the three electrons are farther from the nucleus, increasing the overall/average distance from the nucleus. Also Dr. Lavelle explained the definition of atomic radius to be half the distance between two nuclei of the same atom, and so if more electrons are in higher energy levels, this would affect the distance between the two atoms and how they interact.


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