Organic Chemistry: Atomic Structure


Anion  -  An ion with a net negative charge.
Atomic orbital  -  An orbital that is associated with only one particular atom. This is in contrast to molecular orbitals, which are spread across a collection of atoms.
Aufbau principle  -  German for "building up", a systematic procedure for determining the electron configuration of any atom.
Cation  -  An ion with a net positive charge.
Degenerate orbitals  -  Orbitals with identical energies.
Electron affinity  -  The energy change in an atom when it gains an electron.
First ionization energy  -  The energy cost of removing one electron from an atom.
Hund's Rule  -  A rule which says that electrons prefer to go in separate orbitals when choosing between orbitals of the same energy, in order to half-fill orbitals.
Ion  -  Any atom or molecule with a net charge.
Ionic bond  -  Bonding interaction that results from electrostatic attraction between cations and anions.
Ionization energy  -  The energy it takes to remove an electron from an atom.
Isoelectronic  -  Description for two elemental species with the same electronic configuration.
Isotope  -  Atoms with the same number of protons (i.e. same atomic number) but a different number of neutrons.
Octet rule  -  The cardinal rule of bonding. The octet rule states that atoms gain stability when they have a full complement of 8 electrons in their valence shells.
Orbital  -  The region around an atom where an electron has a high probability of being found.
Pauli Exclusion Principle  -  States that no two electrons in an atom or molecule can have the same set of four quantum numbers n, l, m, and s.
Second ionization energy  -  The energy cost of removing a second electron from an atom.
Shell  -  A group of subshells of similar energy levels. 2s and 2p subshells occupy the same shell.
Shielding  -  When the attraction from the nucleus felt by one electron is lessened or blocked by intermediate electrons. Shielding can split degenerate orbitals. For example, since s-orbital electrons shield for p-orbital electrons and receive little shielding themselves, s-orbitals are usually of lower energy level than p-orbitals of the same shell.
Splitting  -  The breaking of degenerate orbitals within a shell in multi-electron atoms.
Subshell  -  Orbitals in an atom with the same energy; orbitals of the same subshell are of the same shape. p-orbitals are of the same subshell, while s-orbitals are of a separate subshell.
Uncertainty Principle  -  A tenet of quantum mechanics which says that the position and momentum of any particle cannot both be known precisely at the same time.
Valence electron  -  The electrons in the outermost energy shell of an atom. The configuration of these electrons determine the chemical properties of the element.
Valence shell  -  The highest energy shell in an atom. All interactions between atoms take place through the electrons of the valence shell.