Introduction to p-Block Elements

What are p-block Elements? 

Those elements in which last electron occupies p-orbitals and are placed together in groups 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 (Except Helium) are called p-block elements. As p-block orbitals can accommodate totals of maximum six electrons that’s why p-block elements have been divided into six groups. 

Each group of p-block elements is recognized by its first element. Such as group 13 is called Boron Family, group 14 is called Carbon Family, group 15 is called Nitrogen Family, Group 16 is called Oxygen Family, group 17 is called Halogen or fluorine Family, group 18 is called Noble Gas Family or Neon Family. Here you need to keep in mind that Helium is not a p-block element although it is a part of the noble gas family as its also a noble gas. Helium is a part of s-block elements. 

These elements include some metals, all non-metals and metalloids. s-block and p-block elements are collectively called normal or representative elements (except zero group elements). Each period of periodic table ends with a member of zero group (18th group), i.e., a noble gas with a closed shell ns2np6configuration. Prior to the noble gas group, there are two chemically important groups of non-metals. These are halogens (group 17) and chalcogens (group 16).

In this article you will get to know about properties of p-block elements and their uses. 

Properties or Characteristics of p-Block Elements 

  • In the atoms of the p-block elements, the last electron enters the p-subshell of the outermost shell.

  • In these elements np subshell is gradually filled up. The valence shell configuration varies from ns2 np1 to ns2 np6.

  • General electronic configuration of elements of p-block is ns2np1-6 (Except Helium). 

  •  The number of electrons in the penultimate shell of p-block elements is either 2 or 8 or 18.

  • Except for F and inert gases, p-block elements show a number of oxidation states from +n to (n- 8) where n is the number of electrons present in the outermost shell.

  • The p-block elements generally show covalency but higher members can show electrovalency. The highly electronegative elements like halogens F, Cl etc., show electrovalency by accepting electrons and forming anions. Some of the elements show coordinate valency also.

  • In the period from left to right, there is a regular increase in non-metallic character. However, non-metallic character decreases in the groups from top to bottom.

  • Ionisation energies increase from left to right in a period while decrease in a group from top to bottom. The members of group VA and zero group have exceptionally high values of ionisation energies on account of half-filled and fully filled orbitals in the valency shell.

  • In every period, reducing nature decreases from left to right while oxidising nature increases. Reducing nature increases in a group from top to bottom. Halogens are strong oxidising agents.

  • Most of the p-block elements form acidic oxides. 

  • No member of p-block series or the salts imparts a characteristic colour to the flame.

  • A number of elements of p-block series show the phenomenon of allotropy. Carbon, silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, boron, germanium, tin, arsenic, etc., show this property.

  • Catenation property is shown by many elements of p-block series such as carbon, silicon, germanium, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur, etc.

Uses of p-block Elements 

p-block elements are used in various fields in so many ways. We have listed here a few uses of p-block elements – 

  • A compound of boron called borax is used in the glass making industry and pottery. 

  • Boron is also used in the soap or detergent industry. 

  • Boron is used in aircrafts and bullet proof vests. 

  • Boron is used in steel to increase its hardness. 

  • Aluminum is used in utensils, coils, cables, protection of iron and zinc, foils to wrap articles. It is used as a reducing agent as well. 

  • Germanium, arsenic, silicon, gallium are used as semiconductors. 

  • Fitkari is used for purification of water and antiseptic.

  • Iodine is used in iodine tincture. 

  • Chlorine is used in disinfectants. 

  • Carbon and its compounds are used in numerous ways. 


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