Explain the periodic trends in each chemical property.
(a) ionization energy
(b) atomic size
(c) metallic character
Periodic trends are specific patterns that are present in the periodic table that illustrate different aspects of a certain element, including its size and its electronic properties. Major periodic trends include: electronegativity, ionization energy, electron affinity, atomic radius, melting point, and metallic character. Periodic trends, arising from the arrangement of the periodic table, provide chemists with an invaluable tool to quickly predict an element's properties. These trends exist because of the similar atomic structure of the elements within their respective group families or periods, and because of the periodic nature of the elements.
The ionization potential is the minimum amount of energy required to remove one electron from each atom in a mole of atoms in the gaseous state. The first ionization energy is the energy required to remove two, the ionization energy is the energy required to remove the atom's nth electron, after the (n−1) electrons before it has been removed. Trend-wise, ionization energy tends to increase while one progresses across a period because the greater number of protons (higher nuclear charge) attract the orbiting electrons more strongly, thereby increasing the energy required to remove one of the electrons. Ionization energy and ionization potentials are completely different. The potential is an intensive property and it is measured by "volt"; whereas the energy is an extensive property expressed by "eV" or "kJ/mole".
As one progresses down a group on the periodic table, the ionization energy will likely decrease since the valence electrons are farther away from the nucleus and experience a weaker attraction to the nucleus's positive charge. There will be an increase of ionization energy from left to right of a given period and a decrease from top to bottom. As a rule, it requires far less energy to remove an outer-shell electron than an inner-shell electron. As a result, the ionization energies for a given element will increase steadily within a given shell, and when starting on the next shell down will show a drastic jump in ionization energy. Simply put, the lower the principal quantum number, the higher the ionization energy for the electrons within that shell. The exceptions are the elements in the boron and oxygen family, which require slightly less energy than the general trend.
The atomic radius is the distance from the atomic nucleus to the outermost stable electron orbital in an atom that is at equilibrium. The atomic radii tend to decrease across a period from left to right. The atomic radius usually increases while going down a group due to the addition of a new energy level (shell). However, atomic radii tend to increase diagonally, since the number of electrons has a larger effect than the sizeable nucleus. For example, lithium (145 picometer) has a smaller atomic radius than magnesium (150 picometer).
Atomic radius can be further specified as:
- Covalent radius: half the distance between two atoms of a diatomic compound, singly bonded.
- Van der Waals radius: half the distance between the nuclei of atoms of different molecules in a lattice of covalent molecules.
- Metallic radius: half the distance between two adjacent nuclei of atoms in a metallic lattice.
- Ionic radius: half the distance between two nuclei.
Properties increase down groups as decreasing attraction between the nuclei and the outermost electrons causes the outermost electrons to be loosely bound and thus able to conduct heat and electricity. Across the period, increasing attraction between the nuclei and the outermost electrons causes metallic character to decrease.