Electronic Configuration of Group 16 Elements

The electronic configuration of any element is defined as the arrangement of the electrons around the nucleus. The electronic configuration of any element determines its physical state and reactivity with other elements. When one looks at the Group 16 elements, the electronic configuration of all the elements in that group is categorized by the presence of six electrons in their last shell or the valence shell. The elements present in group 16 consists of oxygen (0), sulfur (S), selenium (Se), tellurium (Te), and polonium (Po). Of all the elements, only Polonium is radioactive. All these elements can exist in a free state in nature. However, due to its electronic configuration, it can react with other elements and also exists in a combined state. 


As stated earlier, electronic configuration refers to the arrangement of electrons on its orbital shells and subshells. All elements in group 16 have six electrons in its last shell; for example, the total number of electrons for oxygen is 8, which is distributed in two shells as 2 and 8. To understand the electronic distribution for other members of group 16, it is important to learn some basic principles to do so. 


The first rule is to fill the lower energy shells with electrons first before moving to the higher shells. Hund’s rule, Pauli’s exclusion principle, and Aufbau’s rule are needed to be followed while distributing the electrons. According to Pauli’s exclusion principle, no two electrons in the same atom can not have the same quantum numbers (n,l,m, and s); the first three might have the same quantum number, but it will differ from the fourth value. According to Hund’s rule, similar energy orbitals accommodate one electron, and then other electrons can pair with them in half-filled orbitals. According to Aufbau’s principle, electrons first occupy the lowest energy levels. All these three principles can be followed while determining the electronic configuration of an atom.


Atomic Orbital Diagonal Rule

Considering all the three above mentioned principles is the best approach for deciphering the electronic configuration of any element. For example, the total number of electrons in an oxygen atom is 8. The first step is to fill the lowest energy shell 1s with two electrons. The rest six electrons are distributed in 2s and 2p orbitals. 2s orbital will have two electrons, and 2p orbital will have four electrons. According to Neil Bohr, all the members of the same group of the Periodic table have a similar electronic configuration. Therefore, it also stands true for all the members of group 16, and the electronic configuration of oxygen follows the pattern of the  general electronic configuration of group 16 elements, which is nsnp4.

Atomic number

Element

Configuration

8

Oxygen

[He]2s2p4

16

Sulfur

[Ne]3s3p4

34

Selenium

[Ar]3d10 4s4p4

52

Tellurium

[Kr]4d10 5s5p4

84

Polonium

[Xe]4f14 5d10 6s6p4


Since the noble gas is considered to have a complete electronic shell, the electronic configuration of most elements is represented in terms of its nearest noble gas.


It is important to note that the electronic configuration of any elements determines its chemical properties. Group 16 electron configuration indicates that its members of Group 16 have six elements in its valence shell, and therefore require two elements to complete the octet valency. Therefore all the elements of group 16 are negatively charged since it can receive two electrons from other elements. These anions can interact with positively charged cations that can donate electrons so that their octet is also completed along with these anions. For example, oxygen receives two electrons, one from each hydrogen atom to form water. Sulfur receives two electrons, one from each hydrogen atom to form hydrogen sulfide gas.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the General Electronic Configuration of Group 16 Elements?

The general electronic configuration of group 16 elements is nsnp4.

2. What is the Number of Electrons Present in the Valence Shell of Group 16 Elements?

Six electrons are present in the valence shell of group 16 elements.

3. What are the Principles Followed to Define Electronic Configuration?

Pauli’s exclusion principle, Hund’s rule, and Aufbau’s principles are followed to determine the electronic configuration of any elements.

4. What is the Radioactive Element in Group 16?

Polonium is a radioactive element in group 16.

5. Why are Elements of Group 16 Negatively Charged?

Since all the elements of group 16 have six electrons in their valence shell, they can accept two electrons to complete the octet valency. Therefore, these elements are negatively charged.