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QUESTION

# How do you determine excited state electron configuration?

If an electron (e^(-)) configuration is not in the GROUND state, then it is in the EXCITED state.

Sodium has 11 electrons. Here are 3 possible electron configurations:

Ground state:

1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3s^1: no electrons are excited from their default configuration.

Excited state "a":

1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3p^1: one 3s electron jumped into the 3p orbital; "589 nm" transition.

Excited state "b" (alternative to "a", but not consecutive):

1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 4p^1: one 3s electron jumped into the 4p orbital; "330 nm" transition. (Jumping into the 3d is forbidden; only DeltaL = pm1 is allowed.)

In the ground state, one would build the electron configuration by filling orbital sublevels in order from lowest to highest energy. For sodium, the ordering goes 1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p.

(Although the next highest energy levels are 4s, 3d, and then 4p, a transition from the 3s will not successfully go into the 3d unless it goes into the 3p first. It can only go to the 3p or the 4p in one step, if there is enough energy.)

The maximum number of electrons held by each sublevel is determined by the Pauli Exclusion Principle, m_s, l, and m_l:

• m_s = pm "1/2"; therefore, one orbital, where all electrons in it have the same quantum numbers except for m_s, can only have two electrons, each of opposite spin (\mathbf(m_s)) to the other.

• l = 0, 1, 2, . . . , n-1 where 0 -> s, 1 -> p, 2 -> d, etc. This determines the shape of the orbital.

• m_l = 0, pm1, pm2, . . . , pml determines the number of orientations an orbital can have in order to be unique and orthonormal to the others. In other words, this ultimately tells you the number of orbitals in a subshell.

To determine excited state configuration, compare it to the ground-state. Which electrons were moved to which orbitals?

Evidently, if the configurations differ, then the atom is NOT in its ground state and it must be in an excited state.

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