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Difference Between Representative and Transition Elements

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Last updated date: 02nd Mar 2024
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What is Representative and Transition Elements?

Representative and transition elements are two important categories of elements in the periodic table. These elements exhibit distinct characteristics and play crucial roles in various chemical reactions and applications.

 

Defining Representative Elements

Representative elements, also known as the main group elements or the "A" groups, include the elements in the s-block (Group 1 and Group 2) and the p-block (Groups 13 to 18) of the periodic table. They are called representative elements because they represent the full range of chemical behavior and properties of the elements.


Representative elements are typically involved in chemical bonding through the sharing or transfer of electrons, forming ionic or covalent compounds. They often exhibit predictable trends in their chemical behavior across a period or down a group. These elements are essential for the formation of basic compounds and are widely used in various industries. 


Defining Transition Elements

Transition elements, also known as transition metals or the "B" groups, are found in the d-block of the periodic table. They are characterized by the presence of partially filled d orbitals in their electronic configurations. Transition elements display unique properties such as variable oxidation states, the formation of colored compounds, and the ability to form complex ions.


Transition elements are known for their catalytic properties, which make them crucial in many chemical reactions. They often act as catalysts by providing a surface for reactant molecules to bind and facilitate the reaction. Transition metals are also widely used in the production of alloys, as they can improve the strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance of metals.


The transition elements are more metallic than representative as they have a greater tendency to form positive ions and display characteristics such as high electrical conductivity and luster. This is due to the presence of partially filled d orbitals in the transition elements, which contribute to their metallic behavior.

Properties of Representative and Transition Elements

Properties of Representative Elements: 

Electron Configuration: Representative elements have their valence electrons in the s and p orbitals of the outermost energy level. 


Oxidation States: They tend to exhibit predictable oxidation states, commonly forming simple ions with charges that correspond to the group number. 


Reactivity: Representative elements often undergo chemical reactions by either losing or gaining electrons to achieve a stable electron configuration. 


Metallic Character: Most representative elements are metals and exhibit typical metallic properties such as malleability, ductility, and good electrical conductivity. 


Ionization Energy: The ionization energy of representative elements generally increases from left to right across a period. 


Electronegativity: These elements have moderate to high electronegativity values and tend to form covalent or ionic compounds with other elements. 


Melting and Boiling Points: Representative elements generally have lower melting and boiling points compared to transition elements. 


Properties of Transition Elements:

Electron Configuration: Transition elements have their valence electrons in both the s and d orbitals of the outermost energy level. 


Variable Oxidation States: Transition elements can exhibit multiple oxidation states due to the availability of both s and d orbitals for electron loss or gain. 


Catalytic Activity: Transition elements are known for their high catalytic activity and are often used as catalysts in various chemical reactions. 


Colorful Compounds: Many transition metal compounds exhibit vibrant colors due to the presence of partially filled d orbitals that absorb and emit specific wavelengths of light. 


Magnetic Properties: Some transition elements and their compounds are paramagnetic or ferromagnetic, meaning they are attracted to or possess their own magnetic field. 


Complex Formation: Transition elements readily form complex ions and compounds with ligands due to their ability to form coordination bonds. 


High Melting And Boiling Points: Transition elements generally have higher melting and boiling points compared to representative elements, owing to the presence of strong metallic bonding.


Difference Between Representative and Transition Elements

S. No

Characteristics

Representative Elements

Transition Elements

1

Location in Periodic Table

s and p blocks

d-block

2

Groups

Groups 1, 2, and 13 to 18

Groups 3 to 12

3

Valence Electrons

Valence electrons in s and p orbitals

Valence electrons in both s and d orbitals 

4

Oxidation States

Mostly form simple ions with predictable charges

Exhibit variable oxidation states

5

Complexity of Compounds

Form relatively simpler compounds

Form complex ions and compounds

6

Catalytic Activity

Limited catalytic activity

High catalytic activity

7

Colorful Compounds

Less likely to form colorful compounds

More likely to form colorful compounds

8

Magnetic Properties

Mostly non-magnetic

Some are magnetic


Summary

In summary, representative elements, also known as main group elements, are located in the s and p blocks of the periodic table. They include elements from Groups 1, 2, and 13 to 18. Representative elements have predictable properties and tend to form simple ions and compounds. Transition elements, found in the d-block, include elements from Groups 3 to 12. They possess unique characteristics due to their partially filled d orbitals, exhibiting variable oxidation states, colorful compounds, and catalytic activity. Transition elements are capable of forming complex ions and compounds. Representative elements have valence electrons in s and p orbitals, while transition elements have valence electrons in both s and d orbitals, leading to their distinct behaviors.

FAQs on Difference Between Representative and Transition Elements

1. What are representative and transition elements?

Representative elements, also known as main group elements, are the elements found in the s and p blocks of the periodic table. They include elements from Group 1 (alkali metals), Group 2 (alkaline earth metals), and Groups 13 to 18 (including halogens and noble gases). Representative elements exhibit predictable trends in their properties, such as atomic radius, ionization energy, and electronegativity.


Transition elements, also called transition metals, are located in the d-block of the periodic table. They include elements from Groups 3 to 12. Transition elements have unique properties due to their partially filled d orbitals, which give rise to their characteristic colors, variable oxidation states, and catalytic activity. They often form complex ions and compounds.

2. What is the difference between representative and transition elements?

One key way to differentiate between representative and transition elements is based on their electronic configurations, as representative elements typically have completely filled s and p orbitals in their outermost energy levels, while transition elements have partially filled d orbitals in addition to the filled s and p orbitals. Additionally, representative elements are more likely to form ionic compounds, while transition elements often form complex compounds due to their ability to exhibit multiple oxidation states.


Also, the transition elements are more metallic than representative, as they have a greater tendency to form positive ions and display characteristics such as high electrical conductivity and luster.

3. What are some examples of representative and transition elements?

Some examples of representative elements include:


  • Group 1: Hydrogen (H), Lithium (Li), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K) 

  • Group 2: Beryllium (Be), Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), Strontium (Sr) 

  • Group 13: Boron (B), Aluminum (Al), Gallium (Ga), Indium (In) 

  • Group 17: Fluorine (F), Chlorine (Cl), Bromine (Br), Iodine (I) 

  • Group 18: Helium (He), Neon (Ne), Argon (Ar), Krypton (Kr) 


Some examples of transition elements include: 


  • Group 3: Scandium (Sc), Yttrium (Y) 

  • Group 8: Iron (Fe), Ruthenium (Ru), Osmium (Os) 

  • Group 9: Cobalt (Co), Rhodium (Rh), Iridium (Ir) 

  • Group 11: Copper (Cu), Silver (Ag), Gold (Au)

  • Group 12: Zinc (Zn), Cadmium (Cd), Mercury (Hg)


These examples represent only a few of the many elements within the representative and transition element groups.