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Starting from the third period, elements can expand their octet since there are more orbitals available. d orbitals are first available starting in the n=3 energy level. Once the s and p orbitals are filled in an energy level, the next available orbitals for the electrons are the d orbitals. The lowest energy orbitals available must be filled first, so the d orbitals are used to expand the octet before the electrons fill the orbitals in the next energy level.
up to period 2 elements, the electrons can only fill s and p orbitals which is why they can only pair up to 8 electrons. but starting from period 3, there is a d orbital that goes beyond just the s and p orbital which is why if the first two subshells are full, electrons can fill the d subshell, creating an expanded octet
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