Question Video: Identifying the Highest Occupied Orbital in an Atom of Boron Chemistry

What is the highest occupied atomic orbital in an atom of boron?

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Video Transcript

What is the highest occupied atomic orbital in an atom of boron?

Atomic orbitals are mathematical expressions that describe the location of an electron in an atom. In this question, we need to determine the highest occupied atomic orbital in an atom of boron. In an atom, electrons fill atomic orbitals in order of increasing energy, which is summarized by this diagram. The different subshells hold a different maximum number of electrons. The s subshell can hold a maximum of two electrons; the p subshell, a maximum of six; d, 10; and f, 14.

Atoms of boron have five electrons. The electrons will first fill the lowest-energy atomic orbital which is the 1s orbital. The 1s orbital can hold two electrons, which we indicate with a superscript. The next highest energy orbital is the 2s orbital, which can also hold two electrons. Boron’s fifth and final electron will go in the next highest energy subshell, which is the 2p subshell. From the electron configuration of boron that we just came up with, we can see the highest occupied atomic orbital is the 2p orbital.

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