Relationship between s ,p, d, and f Blocks and Electronic Configuration
The labels s, p, d and f blocks of the Periodic Table refer to the subshell that is being filled with electrons.
Group 1 elements occur at the beginning of a new row (Period) of the Periodic Table.
The highest energy level (valence shell) contains only 1 electron in an s subshell.
Group 2 elements occur directly to the right of Group 1 elements.
The highest energy level (valence shell) contains 2 electrons, both electrons occupy an s subshell.
The s subshell for this energy level (shell) is now full.
The highest energy level (valence shell) of a Group 13 element already has 2 electrons in an s subshell, so the next electron occupies a p subshell to make 3 valence electrons in total (2 s electrons + 1 p electron).
As you proceed from left to right across the Period from Group 13 to Group 18 elements, electrons are being added to the p subshell.
Group 18 elements have 2 s electrons and 6 p electrons in their highest energy level (shell) which completes the s and p subshell.
Transition metals are filling their d subshell with electrons, starting with Group 3 elements which have 1 electron in a d subshell.
Group 12 elements have 10 electrons in a d subshell, which corresponds to a completed d subshell.
Lanthanoids and actinoids are filling their f subshells with electrons.
1 Each subshell is made up of a set orbitals, the orbitals reflect which subshell they belong to by using the same letter, that is, there are s orbitals, p orbitals, d orbitals and f orbitals.
However, although there is only one s orbital in the s subshell, there are 3 p orbitals in the p subshell, 5 d orbitals in the d subshell, and 7 f orbitals in the 5 subshell.
So, for the purposes of this discussion we will refer to s subshells, p subshells, d subshells and f subshells rather than to orbitals.
2 Lanthanoids are also referred to as lanthanides, and actinoids are also referred to as actinides.
Strictly speaking the lanthanoids are the 14 elements following lanthanum (La) in the Periodic Table, but since the term "lanthanoid" is used to indicate that these elements form a closely related group of which lanthanum is the prototype, the term is usually also applied to lanthanum itself.
In this discussion, we use the term lanthanoid in its strictest sense as meaning only the 14 elements immediatedly following lanthanum in the periodic table.
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