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Electronegativity on the Periodic Table

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Electronegativity on the Periodic Table


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You will discover the trends in electronegativity on the Periodic Table using prediction and graphing.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Define electronegativity as a measure of the attraction of an atom for the electrons in a chemical bond.
  • Explain that electronegativity generally increases when moving from left to right across a period.
  • Explain that electronegativity generally decreases when moving down a group.
  • Predict the relative placement of atoms on the Periodic Table when given their electronegativities.
  • Describe why atoms have high or low electronegativities.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Electronegativity refers to the ability of an atom to attract electrons in a chemical bond. Linus Pauling created a scale that shows the relative strength of each atom in attracting electrons. This scale is useful for predicting properties of the molecules produced by atoms with different electronegativies. When two atoms with a large electronegativity difference combine, they will form a polar molecule. This is because the atom with the highest electronegativity will more strongly attract the electrons and this will cause that part of the molecule to be relatively negative compared to the atom with the lower electronegativity, which will be relatively positive.

Electronegativity generally increases across a period on the Periodic Table. Since each element within a period has the same number of electron orbitals, but the proton number increases as you move from left to right, this causes there to be a stronger attraction for the electrons across each period.

Electronegativity tends to decrease when you move down a group on the Periodic Table. Each element has an additional electron orbital as you move down a group. This places the electrons further from the protons in the nucleus and the extra distance decreases the attraction between protons and electrons.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Learners should be familiar with chemical bonds, electrons, Periodic Table, and valence shells.
Course Chemistry
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary electronegativity, Pauling electronegativity scale, Linus Pauling