Chemistry » Essential Ideas in Chemistry » Electronic Configuration

Orbital Shapes and Valence Electrons

Orbital Shapes

Each of the orbitals has a different shape. The s orbitals are spherical and the p orbitals are dumbbell shaped.

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The orbital shapes. From left to right: an s orbital, a p orbital, the three p orbitals

Core and Valence electrons

Electrons in the outermost energy level of an atom are called valence electrons. The electrons that are in the energy shells closer to the nucleus are called core electrons. Core electrons are all the electrons in an atom, excluding the valence electrons. An element that has its valence energy level full is more stable and less likely to react than other elements with a valence energy level that is not full.

Definition: Valence Electrons

The electrons in the outermost energy level of an atom.

Definition: Core Electrons

All the electrons in an atom, excluding the valence electrons.

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