Hich of the following elements has the smallest first ionization energy? How do you determine this?

a. sodium
b. calcium
c. potassium
d. magnesium

1 Answer
Oct 17, 2016

Ionization energy decreases DOWN a Group, and increases from left to right across a Period as we face the Periodic Table.


The order of ionization energies is thus (smallest to largest):

#"potassium"; "sodium"; "calcium"; "magnesium"#.

As a chemist, as a physical scientist, you should, however, always examine the data. Here is a start.

That ionization energy should decrease down a Group, down a column of the Periodic Table, is reasonable, because the valence electron is farther removed from the nuclear core. Across the Period, across a row, from left to right the ionization energy should increase because we add nuclear charge that is imperfectly shielded by the valence electrons.