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Effective nuclear charge is the net charge an electron experiences in a multiple electron atom. Shielding occurs when electrons in the inner shells prevent electrons in the outer shells from feeling the full positive charge of the nucleus. Thus, electrons closer to the nucleus have a higher effective nuclear charge than those in outer shells.
The effective nuclear charge also relations to the ionization energy trend. For example, take Francium, one of the largest atoms on the periodic table. It has a very low ionization energy due to the immense number of inner electrons shielding its valence electrons, which means the energy required to take an electron is so low.
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