Chemistry » Electronic Structure of Atoms » Electronic Structure of Atoms (Electron Configurations)

Electron Configurations of Ions

Electron Configurations of Ions

We have seen that ions are formed when atoms gain or lose electrons. A cation (positively charged ion) forms when one or more electrons are removed from a parent atom. For main group elements, the electrons that were added last are the first electrons removed. For transition metals and inner transition metals, however, electrons in the s  orbital are easier to remove than the d  or f  electrons, and so the  highest  ns  electrons are lost, and then the (n – 1)d  or  (n – 2)f electrons are removed. An anion (negatively charged ion) forms when one or more electrons are added to a parent atom. The added electrons fill in the order predicted by the Aufbau principle.

Example: Predicting Electron Configurations of Ions

What is the electron configuration and orbital diagram of:

(a) Na+

(b) P3–

(c) Al2+

(d) Fe2+

(e) Sm3+


First, write out the electron configuration for each parent atom. We have chosen to show the full, unabbreviated configurations to provide more practice for students who want it, but listing the core-abbreviated electron configurations is also acceptable.

Next, determine whether an electron is gained or lost. Remember electrons are negatively charged, so ions with a positive charge have lost an electron. For main group elements, the last orbital gains or loses the electron. For transition metals, the last s orbital loses an electron before the d orbitals.

(a) Na: 1s22s22p63s1. Sodium cation loses one electron, so Na+: 1s22s22p63s1 = Na+: 1s22s22p6.

(b) P: 1s22s22p63s23p3. Phosphorus trianion gains three electrons, so P3−: 1s22s22p63s23p6.

(c) Al: 1s22s22p63s23p1. Aluminum dication loses two electrons Al2+: 1s22s22p63s23p1 =

Al2+: 1s22s22p63s1.

(d) Fe: 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d6. Iron(II) loses two electrons and, since it is a transition metal, they are removed from the 4s orbital Fe2+: 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d6 = 1s22s22p63s23p63d6.

(e). Sm: 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p65s24d105p66s24f6. Samarium trication loses three electrons. The first two will be lost from the 6s orbital, and the final one is removed from the 4f orbital. Sm3+: 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p65s24d105p66s24f6 = 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d104p65s24d105p64f5.

[Attributions and Licenses]

This is a lesson from the tutorial, Electronic Structure of Atoms and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts