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Periodic Properties of the Elements

The periodic table is the most significant tool that chemists use for organizing and remembering chemical facts. As we saw in Chapter 6, the periodic table arises from the periodic patterns in the electron configurations of the elements. Elements in the same column contain the same number of electrons in their outer-shell orbitals, or valence orbitals. For example, O ([He]2s22p4) and S ([Ne]3s23p4) are both members of group 6A; the similarity in the occupancies of their valence s and p orbitals leads to similarities in their properties.

When we compare O and S, however, it is apparent that they exhibit differences as well. One of the major differences between the elements is their electron configurations: The outermost electrons of O are in the second shell, whereas those of S are in the third shell. We will see that electron configurations can be used to explain differences as well as similarities in the properties of elements.

In this chapter we explore how certain properties of elements change as we move across a row or down a column of the periodic table. In many cases the trends within a row or column form patterns that allow us to make predictions about physical and chemical properties.

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