Question #a88b3

1 Answer
Feb 12, 2017

The “electronic structure” of an atom may be best seen with a Lewis diagram.
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All “structural” diagrams of atoms and molecules are just aids for our understanding of how these things interact. They may need to be represented in different ways, depending on the particular information we are trying to find. None of them are really what an atom “looks like”, but they help us to understand how they affect our existence.

Lewis diagrams ONLY show the outer valence electrons, because those are the only ones involved in chemical reactions. If you wanted a picture of all of the orbitals of each atom the inner orbitals would all look similar.

See the following link for a short history and how you can draw your own Lewis structures.

This one has some great diagrams: