Video: Identifying the Subshell That Contains up to Fourteen Electrons in a Set of Subshells

Which of the following subshells contains up to fourteen electrons? [A] 2s [B] 3s [C] 4s [D] 2p [E] 4f


Video Transcript

Which of the following subshells contains up to 14 electrons? A) 2s, B) 3s, C) 4s, D) 2p, E) 4f.

The subshell is a part of a shell. In subshell notation, the number indicates the shell and the letter indicates the type of subshell. The simplest subshell is the s subshell. The s subshell, no matter the shell number, always contains a single orbital. Only two electrons can occupy a single orbital. So an s subshell has a maximum occupancy of two electrons. The next type of subshell is the p subshell which contains three orbitals. All p type subshells contain a maximum of six electrons, while d subshells have five orbitals and have a maximum occupancy of 10 electrons.

You might be able to see a pattern here. Every time we moved to the next type of subshell, we’re adding two more orbitals, which means we’re adding space for four more electrons. So you should be able to predict that the next time of subshell, the f subshell, has seven orbitals and a maximum occupancy of 14 electrons. It should be clear by now that what we’re looking for out of our five candidates is an f type subshell, meaning that our answer is 4f.

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