Predicting electron behavior during chemical reactions requires an understanding of the basic structure of an atom and the periodic properties of elements. These properties depend on how electrons are configured within atoms and the quantum theory of electron probability. Electromagnetic radiation, also called light, is energy produced by the movement of charged particles. Light can be described in terms of its wave properties, including wavelength, amplitude, and frequency. Light also behaves as a particle, known as wave-particle duality. The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses all wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. When light strikes an atom, some light is absorbed, creating a line spectrum unique to the element. This is due to the element's electrons, which occupy shells that are specific distances from the nucleus. The energy of these electrons can be precisely calculated. The arrangement of electrons in an atom is its electron configuration. Quantum mechanics is the branch of science that investigates subatomic particles. Electrons have four quantum numbers that describe their shell, subshell, orbital orientation, and electron spin.
At A Glance
Electromagnetic radiation is the energy produced by the movement of charged particles and has properties of both waves and particles.
- Niels Bohr developed a model of the atom in which electrons have quantized energies; that is, they can only be found at specific distances from the nucleus.
- Electrons have specific arrangements in atoms, called the electron configuration. Electrons fill orbitals, the area of an atom in which an electron has the greatest probability of being located, and electrons must fill orbitals singly before doubly occupying any other orbital with the same energy.
Quantum theory considers that all matter has properties of both waves and particles. Quantum numbers are used to describe subatomic particles. Electron shells, subshells, and orbitals give information about the range of probabilities where an electron will appear, the shape of that probability, and its orientation, respectively.