How does the electronic structure of the Noble Gases account for their lack of reactivity?

1 Answer
Mar 20, 2017


#"Got a Periodic Table.........?"#


If you are doing your Chemistry or Physics homework there should be a Table in front of you now (in addition to the table or desk that you write on!).

The RIGHTMOST column on the #"Periodic Table"#, i.e. on your right as you face the Table, is #"Group 18"#, which consists of the so-called #"Noble Gases"#. Because these elements, #"He, Ne, Ar, etc"# were not known to undergo chemical reaction, they were dubbed the #"Noble Gases"#, i.e. a select, insular group that did not undergo reaction with more common elements.

This lack of reactivity, this inertness, can be traced to the electronic configuration of Group 18, which features a full valence shell. Because of this full valence shell, Noble Gases are #"(i)"# difficult to oxidize (the nuclear charge tenaciously binds the valence electrons), and #"(ii)"# difficult to reduce (electrons must enter a higher energy valence shell).

These days, we know that the Noble Gases do in fact form a few compounds with the more promiscuous oxidants, i.e. fluorine, and oxygen, and a Noble Gas chemistry has been developed.