Carbon (C) Orbital diagram, Electron configuration, and Valence electrons

Home Carbon Orbital diagram, Electron Configuration, and Valence electrons

Carbon has an atomic number of 6 belongs to Group 14 also known as the carbon group family. It is situated in the P-block of the periodic table. Carbon has the symbol C and it is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

In this article, we will discuss – Carbon Orbital diagram, Electron configuration, and Valence electrons in detail.

Orbital diagram:- A orbital diagram is simply a pictorial representation of the arrangement of electrons in the orbital of an atom, it shows the electrons in the form of arrows, also, indicates the spin of electrons.

Electron configuration:- Electron configuration is the arrangement of electrons in atomic orbitals. It shows the electrons in numbers, It doesn’t show the details on the spin of electrons like the orbital diagram.

Valence electrons:- Valence electrons are the simply outermost electron of an atom situated in an outermost shell surrounding an atomic nucleus. They can participate in the formation of chemical bonds.

How to find Electron configuration of Carbon (C)?

The electron configuration of Carbon can be found using the Aufbau principle.

Aufbau Principle:

  • The word ‘Aufbau’ in German means ‘building up’.
  • The Aufbau rule simply gives the order of electrons filling in the orbital of an atom in its ground state.
  • It states that the orbital with the lowest energy level will be filled first before those with high energy levels. In short, the electrons will be filled in the orbital in order of their increasing energies.
  • For example, the 1s orbital will be filled first with electrons before the 2s orbital.

Simply understand that there are commonly four different types of subshells – s, p, d, and, f.

These subshells can hold a maximum number of electrons on the basis of a formula, 2(2l + 1) where ‘l’ is the azimuthal quantum number.

Value of ‘l’ for different subshells.

SubshellsValue of ‘l’Maximum number of electrons, 2(2l + 1)Number of orbitals in the subshell
s021
p163
d2105
f3147

So, in short, the s subshell can hold a maximum of 2 electrons(1 orbital), the p subshell can hold 6 electrons(3 orbitals), the d subshell can hold 10 electrons(5 orbitals), and the f subshell can hold at most 14 electrons(7 orbitals).

Now, the electron configuration of an atom can be built by filling the electrons in a lower energy subshell first then higher, higher, and higher.

Generally, (n + l) rule is used to predict the energy level of subshells.

n = principle quantum number

l = Azimuthal quantum number

⇒ Lower the value of (n + l) for an subshell, the lower its energy, hence, it will be filled first with electrons.

⇒ For two different subshells having same (n + l) value, then the subshell with lower value of n has lower energy.

So, all these are basics of How filling of electrons will be done in different subshells, obviously, you don’t have so much time for writing electron configuration by using so many rules.

Therefore, we have a diagonal rule for electron filling order in the different subshells using the Aufbau principle.

Aufbau principle for finding electron configuration

So, the order in which the orbitals are filled with electrons from lower energy to higher energy is – 1s < 2s < 2p < 3s < 3p < 4s < 3d < 4p < 5s < 4d < 5p < 6s < 4f < 5d < 6p < 7s < 5f < 6d < 7p and so on.

Carbon Electron configuration using the Aufbau Principle

  • A Carbon atom is a neutral atom that has 6 atomic numbers which imply it has a total of 6 electrons.
  • As per the Aufbau rule, the electrons will be filled into 1s orbital first then 2s, then 2p…so on.
  • Now, for the electron configuration of Carbon, the first 2 electrons will go in 1s orbital since s subshell can hold a maximum of 2 electrons.
  • The next two electrons will go in the 2s orbital, after that, we are left with 2 electrons, these will go in the 2p orbital since the p subshell can hold a maximum of 6 electrons.
  • Therefore, the electron configuration of Carbon will be 1s22s22p2.

Electron configuration for Carbon (C)

Carbon (C) Electron Configuration

Orbital diagram for Carbon

The orbital diagram simply represents the arrangement of electrons in the different orbitals of an atom, it uses an arrow to represent the electrons, every orbital(one box) contains a maximum of 2 electrons.

There are three rules followed for constructing the orbital diagram for an atom.

(1). Aufbau’s principle:- This rule state that the lower energy orbital will be filled before the higher energy orbital, for example – the 1s orbital will fill before the 2s orbital.

(2). Hund’s rule:- This rule state that each orbital of a given subshell should be filled with one electron each before pairing them. That means “Each orbital gets one electron first, before adding the second electron to the orbital”.

(3). Pauli Exclusion Principle:- This rule state that, no two electrons can occupy the same orbital with the same spin. That means “One must be spin up (↑) and one must be spin down (↓)”.

rules for drawing the orbital diagram

If you understand the above rules then constructing the orbital diagram or orbital notation for Carbon is super easy.

Basics of Orbital diagram:-

There are different types of orbitals – s, p, d, and, f. These orbitals contain a number of boxes that can hold a number of electrons. Let’s see.

Each box will hold a maximum of 2 electrons with opposite spin.

  • S orbital contains 1 box that can hold a maximum of 2 electrons.
  • P orbital contains 3 boxes that can hold a maximum of 6 electrons.
  • D orbital contains 5 boxes that can hold a maximum of 10 electrons.
  • F orbital contains 7 boxes that can hold a maximum of 14 electrons.

The orbital diagram will also be filled with the same order as described by the Aufbau principle. (1s < 2s < 2p < 3s……and so on.)

What is the Orbital diagram for Carbon?

We know the electron configuration of Carbon is 1s22s22p2, now for drawing its orbital diagram, we need to show its electrons in form of an arrow in different boxes using Hund’s and Pauli exclusion rule.

  • The orbital diagram of Carbon contains 1s orbital, 2s orbital, and 2p orbital. 1s orbital contains 1 box, 2s orbital also contains 1 box and 2p orbital contains 3 boxes.
  • Carbon has a total of 6 electrons and one box can hold up to the two electrons.
  • Therefore, the first two electrons will go in the 1s orbital, and the next two will go in the 2s orbital, now we are left with 2 electrons.
  • These 2 electrons will go in the 2p orbital, since, the 2p orbital has 3 boxes, so, these electrons will be filled using Hund’s rule. (Each box gets one electron first).

Orbital diagram for Carbon (C)

Carbon Orbital diagram

Electron configuration Vs Orbital diagram for Carbon

The main difference between the orbital diagram and electron configuration is an orbital diagram shows electrons in form of arrows whereas an electron configuration shows electrons in form of numbers. Also, the orbital diagram shows details on the spin of electrons whereas the electron configuration doesn’t show it.

Both these follow the Aufbau principle (Diagonal rule).

electron configuration vs orbital diagram for carbon (C)

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Electron configuration for Carbon via Bohr model (Orbit)

Bohr model describes the visual representation of orbiting electrons around the small nucleus. It used different electron shells such as K, L, M, N…so on.

These electron shells hold a specific number of electrons that can be calculated via the 2n2 formula where n represents the shell number.

Electron shellsShell number (n)Max. number of electrons (2n2)
K12
L28
M318
N432

So, K is the first shell or orbit that can hold up to 2 electrons, L is the 2nd shell which can hold up to 8 electrons, M is the third shell that can hold up to 18 electrons, and N is the fourth shell that can hold up to 32 electrons.

Now, Carbon has an atomic number of 6 and it contains a total number of 6 electrons. Hence, 2 electrons will go in the first shell(K) and 4 electrons will go in the second shell(L).

Therefore, the electrons per shell for Carbon is 2, 4, hence, we can say, based on the shell, the electronic configuration of the Carbon atom is [2, 4].

Also checkHow to draw Bohr model of Carbon atom

Carbon Valence electrons

Valence electrons are the outermost electrons present in the outermost shell of an atom. They have more energy, hence, they are part of most chemical reactions.

We can find valence electrons of an atom either by knowing its periodic group number or its electron configuration. Both these ways are super easy.

Finding Carbon Valence electrons through the Group number

For neutral atoms, the valence electrons of an atom will be equal to its main periodic group number. However, for transition metals, the process of finding valence electrons is complicated.

Now, for determining the valence electron for the Carbon atom, look at the periodic table and find its Group number. The group number can be found from its column on the periodic table.

Carbon valence electrons

So, the number of valence electrons in Carbon is 4. Since it belongs to Group 14 (also called 4A) in the Periodic table.

Finding Carbon Valence electrons through the Electron configuration or Bohr model

We know, the electron configuration of the Carbon atom is 1s22s22p2, and valence electrons are those electrons found in the outer shell of an atom.

This electron configuration of Carbon shows that the outer shell of Carbon has 4 electrons(2s22p2), hence, the number of valence electrons in the Carbon atom is 4.

Also, we know, that the electron configuration of Carbon-based on the shells is [2, 4], which means, that two electrons are present in the first shell, and four electrons are present in 2nd shell or outer shell.

Hence, the electrons found in the 2nd shell of the Carbon atom are its valence electrons because it is the outermost shell also called the valence shell.

The 2nd shell or outer shell of the Carbon atom contains 4 electrons, therefore, the number of valence electrons in the Carbon atom is 4.

how many valence electrons does carbon have

Carbon Valence electrons

Electron configuration, Valence electrons, and Orbital diagram of Carbon in tabular form

Name of atomCarbon (C)
Number of electrons6
Number of electrons per shell[2, 4]
Number of valence electrons4
Electron configuration1s22s22p2 or [He] 2s22p2
Orbital diagramConsists of three orbitals – 1s, 2s, and, 2p

Also Read:

FAQ

What are the Ground state and Excited-state Electron configurations of Carbon?

There is a simple difference between Ground state and Excited-state configuration.

The ground state configuration of an atom is the same as its regular electron configuration in which electrons remain in the lowest possible energy.

So, the ground-state electron configuration for the Carbon atom is 1s22s22p2.

The excited-state configuration of an atom is different from the regular configuration of an atom, this occurs, when an electron is excited and jumps into a higher orbital.

The excited-state electron configuration for Carbon is 1s22s12p3.

What is the shorthand electron configuration of Carbon?

The shorthand electron configuration for Carbon atom is [He] 2s22p2.

∴ [He] electron configuration is 1s2.

Which element has the 1s22s22p2 Electron configuration?

Element with electron configuration 1s22s22p2 is Carbon (C) that has the atomic number of 6.

How many valence electrons does carbon have?

The Carbon atom has 4 valence electrons in its outermost or valence shell. Carbon is belonged to group 14th and has the atomic number of 6.

What is the orbital diagram for Carbon (C)?

The orbital diagram for Carbon is drawn with 3 orbitals. The orbitals are 1s, 2s, and 2p. The Carbon orbital diagram contains 2 electrons in the 1s orbital, 2 electrons in the 2s orbital, and the rest two electrons in the 2p orbital.

An orbital diagram for a ground-state electron configuration of Carbon atom is shown below-

Orbital notation for Carbon

What is the electron configuration of the C4- ion?

We know, in general, that the electron configuration of Carbon (C) is 1s22s22p2.

Now, in C4- ion, the negative charge means, Carbon has gained four extra electrons.

Therefore, to write the electron configuration of the C4- ion, we have to add four electrons to the configuration of Carbon (C).

∴ The resulting electron configuration for the Carbide ion (C4-) ion will be 1s22s22p6. It resembles the configuration of the nearest inert gas i.e Neon.

Properties and Uses of Carbon

  • It belongs to Group 14 (P block) and period 2 in the periodic table.
  • It is nonmetallic, diamagnetic, and tetravalent in nature.
  • It has an electronegativity of 2.55 according to the Pauling scale.
  • The common oxidation state of carbon is +4 and +2.
  • Carbon is sometimes referred to as the “Kings of the elements”.
  • The two common allotropes of carbon are Graphite and Diamond.
  • Carbon has the most number of compounds, going up to ten million.
  • It forms covalent compounds.
  • Carbon is used in crude oil and fossil fuel methane gas.
  • The polymers of carbon are used to make plastics, it is also used as a lubricant and a pigment.
  • It is also used to make various products of rubbers.

Reactions for Carbon

The methane gas is produced when carbon reacts with hydrogen.

⇒ C + 2H2 → CH4

When carbon reacts with oxygen atoms, it forms oxide compounds.

⇒ 2C + O2 → 2CO

⇒ C + O2 → CO2

The reaction of carbon with iron in the steel industry is used to control the carbon content of the steel.

⇒ Fe3O4 + 4C + 2O2 → 3Fe + 4CO2

Summary

  • The electron configuration of Carbon in terms of the shell or orbit is [2, 4].
  • The ground-state electron configuration of the Carbon (C) atom is 1s22s22p2. And for the excited state, it is 1s22s12p3.
  • The shorthand electron configuration for Carbon is [He] 2s22p2.
  • The electron configuration for the Carbide ion (C4-) is 1s22s22p6.
  • The number of valence electrons available for Carbon atoms is 4. Carbon is situated in Group 14th and has an atomic number of 6.
  • The first shell of Carbon has 2 electrons and the outer shell or valence shell of Carbon has 4 electrons, hence, the number of valence electrons in the Carbon atom is 4.
  • The orbital diagram for Carbon is drawn by following three principles – the Aufbau principle, Hund’s principle, and Pauli’s exclusion principle.
  • The Carbon orbital diagram comprises three orbitals. The three orbitals are 1s, 2s, and 2p.
  • The first two electrons will go in the 1s orbital, the next two in the 2s orbital, and the remaining two in the 2p orbital.
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