Number of Unpaired Electrons

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Ashley Odibo Dis3E
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Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:03 am

Number of Unpaired Electrons

Postby Ashley Odibo Dis3E » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:42 am

When determining the number of unpaired electrons in an atom do we look at whether electrons in the entire valence shell (n=3,n=4, etc) is full or not or whether electrons in a particular orbital (3s, 4p, 5f, etc) is full or not?

Searra Harding 4I
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:29 am

Re: Number of Unpaired Electrons

Postby Searra Harding 4I » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:52 pm

You would look at the electrons in the highest sub shell. Everything below the highest sub shell will fill first so any unpaired electrons will be at the top. These are your valence electrons. Remember the rule that electrons are parallel to each each other before two can fill up an orbital. You can do your electron configuration and count the amount that aren't paired with a down spin.

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Re: Number of Unpaired Electrons

Postby AdityaGuru1H » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:37 pm

Also keep in mind that we are only doing the s and p block and only the first row of the d block so you won't have to remember anything too complicated

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Re: Number of Unpaired Electrons

Postby MaggieMatern_Dis1H » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:02 pm


Only count the valence electrons when determining whether they are unpaired or not, as the subshells below the valence will be full and therefore every electron will be paired. As an example, in this image, the element has 1 unpaired electron, which is easy to visualize on an aufbau diagram.

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