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For instance, an atom like Phosphorus can hold more electrons than just the octet that it gets, since it would fill up its 3p shell, next moving onto the 3d and the 4s shells. Phosphorus can do this because it is in the 3rd period of the table. This is much more difficult for atoms that are in a lower period of the periodic table (period 1, or period 2 etc.)
The octet guideline refers to 8 electrons. This gives us the configuration of s2p6. For atoms in Period 3 or higher, their n (principal quantum number) is 3. This gives us an l of 0,1,2, meaning that they have an s,p,and d orbital. The d-orbitals allow Period 3 and higher elements to accommodate the additional electrons.
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