# Write the ground state electron configuration for a neutral carbon atom, and for an excited state of carbon?

Feb 22, 2016

Ground state neutral carbon atom: ${\text{1s"^2"2s"^2"2p}}^{2}$.

Excited state carbon atom: $\text{1s"^2"2s"^1"2p"^3}$.

#### Explanation:

A neutral carbon atom has atomic number 6, with 6 protons and 6 electrons. The ground state electron configuration for carbon is ${\text{1s"^2"2s"^2"2p}}^{2}$.

When a carbon atom becomes excited by absorbing energy, one of its $\text{2s}$ electrons is promoted into the $\text{2p}$ sublevel. The excited state electron configuration for carbon is $\text{1s"^2"2s"^1"2p"^3}$. $\leftarrow$ This is just one possibility.

This is unstable, and the excited electron will drop back down to the $\text{2s}$ sublevel, emitting electromagnetic radiation as it does so.

The diagram below shows how a carbon atom in its ground state can be excited by the addition of energy.