There is a distinction between electrons that space able to bond - valence electrons - and also electrons that don’t - core electrons. Core electrons don’t bond due to the fact that they, choose noble gases, are stable, feeling the best amount of charge from the atomic nucleus. However, valence electrons feel an effective charge from the nucleus, or a charge brought around after the positive charge the the cell core is subtracted by the variety of core electrons. This effective charge is likewise felt by any kind of valence electrons from other atoms, i beg your pardon is the key reason why stable bonds can occur.

You are watching: Identify the valence electrons and core electrons.

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Before we proceed talking around bonding, we need to talk around what urges atoms to perform it. And also since oxygen likes the attention, we’ll use it as a recommendation for this whole lesson. Great for you, oxygen.

As a reminder, oxygen’s orbital configuration is 1s22s22p4. This way that it has 8 electrons (add the index number of the orbital configuration, which represent the spin quantum numbers). So, if it has an atomic variety of 8, definition that it has actually 8 protons and also it also has 8 electrons, climate why go it must bond anymore? after ~ all, it"s negative and optimistic charges room balanced. That shouldn"t be high in energy, right?

Not exactly.

Atomic Imbalance

Now, you space not not correct for reasoning that 8 protons and 8 electrons need to cancel each other out. 8 - 8 = 0. However that would just be the situation if every 8 electrons felt the same force from the 8 protons and also cancelled that pressure out. But that can"t be, right? We understand that together we boost in orbital level, the distance from the nucleus rises too. Therefore, the electrons closer come the cell core feel much more and much more of that is attractive force, if the ones farther away feeling less; it"s not a perfect cancellation. Also, mental the electron shield? This shield is comprised of the innermost, or core, electrons, i beg your pardon "shield" not only the valence electron from the nucleus" force, but additionally any electrons outside of the atom. There is no this shield, bonding and also chemistry together a totality would be veeeeery different. For this reason let"s talk more about this shielding main point electrons.

The number of these core electrons is follow to - friend guessed it - energy. The lowest energy electrons room the least reactive, if the highest power electrons room the most reactive. The highest power electrons link in order to lower their energy, the trait of valence electrons; the lowest energy electrons have actually no have to bond, the properties of main point electrons. Hence, it’s not that there are, as our previous instance states, simply 8 electrons and 8 protons. Over there is a mixture the electrons the react and also electrons the don’t in the 8, producing an imbalance the charge. Fine come ago to that later. First, just how do you determine which electrons are core and also which space valence?

It’s an extremely simple. Remember the our noble gases are throwing a party for every atom and also the only need is having the best amount the electron invitations. The requirements to i beg your pardon an atom must fulfill are determined by the noble gases. So, let’s take one more look at the routine table.


Noble gases have full orbitals and also are, thus, nonreactive, giving them the exact same traits as core electrons - short energy and also a absence of a have to bond. Therefore, us can define all elements’ main point electrons according to your previous noble gas. So, let’s revisit our 8 proton/8 electron, attention-seeking atom the the party oxygen. Its vault noble gas is helium - i beg your pardon is 1s2. That means that it only has actually two main point electrons. Oxygen’s 2 electrons in ~ its 2s orbital (2s2) and four electrons within its 2p orbital (2p4) room valence electrons. Together such, oxygen can be created in core-valence orbital kind as 2s22p4.

This reveals that oxygen has actually eight protons, but only six, reactive valence electrons and, currently that we understand that oxygen actually has actually less reactive electrons than protons, i beg your pardon is true of any atom after ~ helium, we can see why it reacts. Core electrons suffer the full charge that the nucleus. Yet the valence electrons, shielded indigenous the complete charge by those core electrons, experience much less the a positive charge. Specifically, atom after helium have actually nuclei the exhibit an effective charge on electrons outside of the core. This can be express in a an easy mathematical form.

The reliable charge is: Zeff = Z - S, where Z is the number of protons and S is the variety of core electrons.

We know that oxygen has 2 main point electrons, and 8 protons, therefore, it’s reliable charge is 6 (8 - 2). The valence electrons feel this +6 charge (hence why there space 6 valence electrons). However, those valence electron don’t add to the electron shield. And that method electrons outside of the atom deserve to feel that fee too.

So how does oxygen usage this? just how does any type of atom? once the distance between compatible atom is near enough, all valence electrons endure the effective nuclear fee from not only their very own atom’s nucleus, but additionally the nuclei of the atoms that they are near. As such, they are pulled by the attractive forces of all relevant nuclei in the middle and also their an unfavorable charge satisfies all relevant atoms. Sound familiar? You might recall something comparable when we were discussing hydrogen in the last lesson. Yes, my curious girlfriend - this is chemical bonding.


(a) The easiest expression of chemical bonding. (b) an alert how the cloud that blue is in ~ its darkest in in between the atoms or near the protons?Image by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

The Bonding Summary…

As the amount of protons increase, the effective nuclear charge must increase. But the main point electrons don’t change in number until you obtain to the next row top top the periodic table, after the ahead noble gas goalpost has been met. Because that example, the whole of the 2nd period, native lithium (Li) to fluoride (F) has actually two core electrons because helium was their last noble gas and, therefore, to adjust the criterion for core electrons, as result of stability. Those main point electrons feel the full force of the nucleus, however they are frequently not enough to completely mask the complete positive charge. Therefore, not only do valence electrons within an atom feel the nucleus’ pull, however so execute the valence electrons external of an atom that space close sufficient to it. Since an atom wants a complete valence shell, in bespeak to be as secure as a noble gas, it openly attracts these valence electrons. But the valence electron of one more atom likewise feels a pull as result of the effective charge that its very own nucleus. Therefore, the two atoms must share their electrons. The an outcome is the both atoms improve their stability, potentially also having enough electrons to it is in as steady as a noble gas and, therefore, being able to party through their idolized noble gases.

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Now I can tell girlfriend what renders oxygen therefore bad…in the next part. But, I want to leaving you through a question.

What makes hydrogen and also helium so various in terms of core and valence electrons?