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Author Topic: Why does boron have two electrons in the inner shell and three electrons in the outer shell?  (Read 7333 times)

yomi

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yomi asked the Naked Scientists:
Why does boron have two electrons in the inner shell and three electrons in the outer shell?
What do you think?


 

Offline Supercryptid

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This has to do with the way that atomic orbitals work. The lowest orbital in any atom is called the 1s orbital. The 1s orbital can only hold 2 electrons at most, so any extra electrons must be put into higher orbitals (the "outer shell", as you put it). Next highest is called the 2s orbital, which, like all other orbitals, can only hold 2 electrons. So with boron, you have a 1s orbital with 2 electrons and a 2s orbital with 2 electrons. The final electron goes into what is called the 2p orbital. Technically, there are 3 different 2p orbitals, called 2px, 2py, and 2pz. Which of these orbitals does the final electron go in? It doesn't really matter. These orbitals are identical to one-another in all ways except their orientation to one-another.

So to sum it up, there are 2 electrons in the inner shell (they are in the 1s orbital), and 3 electrons in the outer shell (2 in the 2s, and 1 in the 2p).
 

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