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f block Elements

f block elements on periodic table

f block elements appear in two chemical series like 4f block names as lanthanides or rare earth elements and 5f block names as actinides or actinoids in the periodic table. The 4f-block elements or lanthanides constitute the first inner transition series while actinides constitute the second inner transition metals series in chemistry. The electronic configuration of the f-block chemical elements (lanthanum and actinium) has been done by filling electrons in deep-seated 4f and 5f orbital with the increasing atomic number. The trivalent oxidation number or state of all f-block elements is a stable or common oxidation state.

Why f block elements are called inner transition elements

f-block is also called inner transition metals or elements because the electron is added to the deep seated f-orbital with the increasing atomic number of lanthanides and actinides. Therefore, the outer orbital contains 6s or 7s-electrons and the inner energy orbital contains f-electrons for lanthanides and actinides.

f block elements names and symbols

The f-block elements are classified into 4f and 5f series of elements corresponding to filling 4f and 5f orbitals of (n – 2) main shell. The names and symbols of all f-block elements are given below the two pictures.

What are lanthanides?

Atomic number electron configuration of f block elements Lanthanides in periodic table

The 4f block contains fourteen chemical elements cerium to lutetium with an atomic number from 58 to 71. These f-block chemical elements are known as Lanthanum or rare-earth elements because they appear after lanthanum. The element lanthanum is also placed with lanthanide series because the chemical and physical properties of fifteen elements, 57La to 71Lu have very similar.

What are actinides?

Name and symbol of 5f block elements in periodic table element

The 5f block contains fourteen chemical elements thorium to lawrencium with atomic numbers 90 to 103. These f-block elements are known as actinides because they appear after actinium. Actinium is also placed with actinide series because the physical and chemical properties of fifteen elements, 89Ac to 103Lw are very similar.

Properties of f block elements

The f-block chemical elements like lanthanides behave as active metals. Therefore, the redox reaction potential of these elements comparable to alkaline earth metals. All the f-block metals act as strong reducing agents and chemical reactions with acids by the liberation of hydrogen ions. Hence they absorb hydrogen ions from low pH scale solutions to form interstitial hydrides.

Although important similarities exist between the two series of f-block elements but very impotent differences also occur. These differences occur due to lower bond energies, ionization energy, and less effective shielding electron in 5f block elements than the 4f-block elements. The standard electrode potentials for f-block lanthanides become more positive with the increasing atomic number. But for actinium, electrode potentials values become more positive from actinium to uranium and become less positive till Americium.

Electronic configuration of f block elements

The general valence shell electronic configuration of f block elements (lanthanum and actinium series) is (n – 2)f0, 2 to 14 (n – 1)d0 to 2 ns2. For example, valence shell electronic configuration of 4f block elements promethium (atomic number 61) is 4f5 5d0 6s2.

Lanthanides in Periodic Table

The 4f block elements in the periodic table have been variously called rare earth, lanthanum’s, and lanthanum. The name rare-earth for f-block has been given because they originally extracted from oxides for which ancient name earth and which are considered to be rare in earth environment. The term rare-earths now avoided because many of these elements are no longer rare but are abundant.

Electronic configuration of lanthanides

The general valence shell electronic configuration of lanthanides is [Xe] 4f0, 2 to 14 5d0 to1 6s2. Therefore, the valence shell electronic configuration of praseodymium is [Xe] 4f3 5d0 6s2.

Cerium, Gadolinium, and Lutetium

f-block chemical elements like cerium, gadolinium, and Lutetium in the periodic table contain one electron in 5d orbital with atomic numbers 58, 64, and 87. Therefore, the electron configuration of cerium, gadolinium, and lutetium outside of the general electronic configuration. Because electrons of similar spin developed an exchange interaction which leads to stabilizing the system.

The f-electrons of similar spin, repulsion is less by an amount called the exchange energy of an electron. But the greater the number of f-electrons with parallel spins the greater of exchanged interaction and greater stability. This is the basis of Hound’s rules and uses to derive the electronic arrangement of Cerium, Gadolinium, and Lutetium.

Electronic configuration of cerium

The electron configuration of cerium, [Xe] 4f1 5d1 6s2. Therefore, the cerium atom contains one electron in a 5d orbital. But 4f and 5d energy levels are very close in terms of energy. Therefore, the half-filled orbital f-block chemical elements like cerium slightly more stable than orbital with one additional electron.

Electronic configuration of gadolinium

The electron configuration of f-block chemical elements like gadolinium [Xe] 4f7 5d1 6s2. Gadolinium contains seven electrons with a parallel spin in the seven f-orbitals with the maximum stability of the f orbital. Here the half-filled energy level stabilizes by exchange energy in the 4f orbital of the gadolinium atom.

Electronic configuration of lutetium

Lutetium also has a valence orbital electronic configuration, f14 d1, where the last electrons have added the capacity of the f-shell. Therefore, the electronic configuration f-block chemical chemical elements like Lutetium, [Xe] 4f14 5d1 6s2.

Electronic configuration of praseodymium

Praseodymium in f-block possesses electronic configuration 4f3 6s2 instead of the expected one 4f2 5d1 6s2. This can be explained by (n + l) rules, the orbital which has a higher value of (n + l) is the higher energy orbitals. For 4f orbital, (n + l) = 4 + 3 = 7 but for 5d orbital, (n + l) = 5 + 7 = 7.

For 4f and 5d-orbital, the sum of principal and the azimuthal quantum number is the same. In this case, the highest number of principal quantum numbers is the higher energy quantum systems of an atom. Therefore, 5d-orbital is a higher energy quantum shell. Again electrons are fed into orbitals in order of increasing energy until all the electrons have been accommodated. Hence the electron filling process for f block element praseodymium f-electron filling first and possess electronic configuration 4f3 6s2.

Common oxidation state of lanthanides

The trivalent oxidation state is the common oxidation state of elements like lanthanum. Because the removal of three electrons from lanthanides is easier than the removal of greater than three electrons. The ground state electronic configuration of lanthanum atom and trivalent lanthanum ion is [Xe] 4f0 5d1 6s2 and [Xe] 4f0 respectively.

The stability electrons in the f orbital of lanthanides greater than the d and s electrons. Therefore, the f electrons can not participate in the chemical bonding and the +3 oxidation number or state is common for lanthanides.

5f block elements or actinides

The second series of 5f block chemical elements results from the filling of 5f-orbital. Actinides in f block consist of chemical elements like thorium to lawrencium with atomic numbers 90 to 103.

General electronic configuration of actinides

The general electronic configuration of 5f-block elements or actinides is [Rn] 5f0, 2 to 14 6d0,1,2 7s2. Therefore the electronic configuration of uranium is [Rn] 5f3 6d1 7s2.

Position of actinides in periodic table

The highest atomic number of naturally occurring actinides (f-block elements) = 92. For this reason, uranium occupies the last position in the periodic table for a very long time. Since 1940 seven chemical elements from neptunium to lawrencium have been identified and synthesized by the transformation of naturally occurring elements by the emission of alpha, beta or gamma rays.

These men made eleven radioactive isotopes that are placed beyond uranium in the periodic table and are collectively called trans-uranium chemical elements. The absorption spectra of f-block actinides ion and crystalline solid chemical elements contain narrow bands with visible, near-ultraviolet, and near-infrared spectrum in electromagnetic spectrum radiation.