Nickel is an abundant and useful chemical element that many people encounter in their everyday lives. But how much do you really know about this metal? Specifically, have you ever wondered how many electrons can be found in a nickel atom?
Read on to get the full scoop on the electron configuration of this versatile element.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Nickel atoms have 28 electrons.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the electron configuration of nickel. You’ll learn the step-by-step process to determine the number of electrons, understand the orbitals and energy levels they occupy, and see how nickel compares to other transition metals.
Determining the Number of Electrons in a Nickel Atom
Understanding the structure of an atom is crucial in determining the number of electrons it contains. In the case of nickel, a transition metal, the number of electrons can be determined using the atomic number and following the Aufbau principle.
Start with the Atomic Number
The atomic number of an element represents the number of protons in its nucleus. For nickel, the atomic number is 28. Since atoms are electrically neutral, the number of electrons in a nickel atom is also 28.
This is because the number of protons in the nucleus is equal to the number of electrons surrounding it.
Fill the Orbitals Following the Aufbau Principle
The Aufbau principle states that electrons fill the lowest energy orbitals first before moving to higher energy levels. In the case of nickel, the electron configuration can be determined by following this principle.
The electron configuration of nickel is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d8. Let’s break it down:
- The first electron shell (1s) can hold a maximum of 2 electrons.
- The second electron shell (2s and 2p) can hold a maximum of 8 electrons.
- The third electron shell (3s and 3p) can also hold a maximum of 8 electrons.
- The fourth electron shell (4s and 3d) can hold a maximum of 18 electrons, but in the case of nickel, it only contains a total of 10 electrons.
By adding up the electrons in each shell, we find that nickel has a total of 28 electrons, confirming our earlier calculation based on its atomic number.
The Electron Configuration of Nickel
The 1s orbital is the innermost and lowest energy orbital. It can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel with 28 electrons, the 1s orbital is full and contains 2 electrons.
The 2s orbital is the second principal shell and lower energy than the 2p orbitals. It can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 2s orbital is full and contains 2 electrons.
There are 3 degenerate 2p orbitals that have the same energy level. Each 2p orbital can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 3 2p orbitals are full and contain a total of 6 electrons.
The 3s orbital can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 3s orbital is full and contains 2 electrons.
There are 3 degenerate 3p orbitals, each can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 3 3p orbitals are full and contain a total of 6 electrons.
There are 5 degenerate 3d orbitals with the same energy level. Each 3d orbital can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 5 3d orbitals are partially filled and contain a total of 8 electrons.
The 4s orbital is higher in energy than the 3d orbitals. It can hold up to 2 electrons. For nickel, the 4s orbital is empty and contains 0 electrons.
How Nickel Compares to Other Transition Metals
Similarities in Orbital Filling
Nickel is a transition metal located in the fourth period and tenth group of the periodic table. Like other transition metals, nickel has properties that fall between the s-block and p-block elements. Its electron configuration is [Ar] 4s23d8, with its outermost s and d orbitals incompletely filled.
This allows nickel to exhibit multiple oxidation states and form colored complexes – characteristics shared by many transition metals.
Nickel tends to lose its two 4s electrons first when forming compounds, leaving behind a stable 3d8 configuration. The energies of the 3d and 4s orbitals are actually very close in energy, so nickel can sometimes gain or lose electrons from both.
This orbital filling pattern is similar across the first row transition metals like chromium and copper.
Differences in Total Electrons
While nickel shares general properties with other transition metals, the specific number of electrons is what distinguishes its reactivity. Nickel has 28 total electrons, with 10 electrons in the 3d orbital. This is two fewer than copper and two greater than iron.
Those differences result in variation of reactivity down the transition metal series.
For example, nickel forms compounds like NiCl2 and NiS which are analogous to the compounds formed by iron and copper. However, nickel forms stronger and more stable complexes than iron but weaker complexes than copper.
This can be attributed to the availability of d-electrons for bonding following the order Cu > Ni > Fe based on their total electrons.
|Metal||Atomic Number||Total Electrons||Electrons in 3d Orbital|
This comparison shows why nickel exhibits chemical behavior intermediary between iron and copper. The subtle differences in electrons provide the variation among metals across the periodic table.
Now you know the ins and outs of determining electron configuration and can confidently say that nickel contains 28 electrons. This knowledge of orbital filling and the Aufbau principle provides insight into the chemical properties and reactivity that make nickel such a useful element.
Understanding the electron configuration of transition metals like nickel will equip you with a foundational knowledge of chemistry and physics.