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In chemistry, valence electrons are the electrons contained in the outermost, or valence, electron shell of an atom. Valence electrons are important in determining how an element reacts chemically with other elements: The fewer valence electrons an atom holds, the less stable it becomes and the more likely it is to react.
Additional recommended knowledge
The number of valence electrons
The number of valence electrons of an element is determined by its periodic table group (vertical column) in which the sup element is categorized. With the exception of groups 3–12 (transition metals), the number within the unit's place identifies how many valence electrons are contained within the elements listed under that particular column..
* Valence electrons are not generally useful for transition metals.
** Except for helium, which has only two electrons.
Valence electrons in chemical reactions
The number of electrons in an atom's outermost valence shell governs its bonding behavior. Therefore, elements with the same number of valence electrons are grouped together in the periodic table of the elements. As a general rule, the fewer electrons in an atom's valence shell, the more reactive it is. Group 1 alkali metals are therefore very reactive, with lithium, sodium, and potassium being the most reactive of all metals.
Every atom is much more stable, or less reactive, with a full valence shell. This can be achieved one of two ways: an atom can either share electrons with neighboring atoms, a covalent bond, or it can remove electrons from other atoms, an ionic bond. Another form of ionic bonding involves an atom giving some of its electrons to another atom; this also works because it can end up with a full valence by giving up its entire outer shell. By moving electrons, the two atoms become linked. This is known as chemical bonding and serves to build atoms into molecules or ionic compounds. Five major types of bonds exist:
The valence electrons are also responsible for determining the electrical conductivity nature of an element.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Valence_electron". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|