Now, the shell of an atom can be further divided into subshells, also known as sublevels, with each one assigned a variable letter. Alright. So we have our shell numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. We're gonna say here that our subshells that can be linked to these are if it is 1, then the subshell letter that is possible is s. If n=2, then possible values are s and p. If n=3, then possible values are s, p, d. And if n=4, then the possible variables that exist are s, p, d, and f. So realize as that n value increases, the variable letters involved increase. Here, we're not going to go past the variable of f. So if we did n=5, we'd still be dealing with s, p, d, and f at that point. Okay? So just remember, these are your 4 variable letters that are possible tied to the shell number.

- 1. Matter and Measurements4h 29m
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- 11. Nuclear Chemistry56m
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- 21. The Generation of Biochemical Energy2h 8m
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- 24. Lipid Metabolism1h 45m
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- Types of RNA10m
- Overview of Protein Synthesis4m
- Transcription: mRNA Synthesis9m
- Processing of pre-mRNA5m
- The Genetic Code6m
- Introduction to Translation7m
- Translation: Protein Synthesis18m

# Electronic Structure: Subshells - Online Tutor, Practice Problems & Exam Prep

The shell of an atom is divided into subshells, or sublevels, identified by letters. For shell number n=1, the subshell is s; for n=2, it includes s and p; for n=3, s, p, and d; and for n=4, s, p, d, and f. As n increases, the number of subshells also increases, but it does not exceed f. Understanding these subshells is crucial for grasping electron configurations and the behavior of elements in chemical reactions.

Subshell designation gives the shape of an orbital within a subshell.

## Electronic Structure:Subshells

### Electronic Structure: Subshells Concept 1

#### Video transcript

### Electronic Structure: Subshells Example 1

#### Video transcript

What are the possible values for n and subshell letter for an electron found in the 3rd energy level and d sublevel? Alright. So we're going to say here that if you are a third energy level or 3rd shell number, that means your n = 3. So automatically a is out and c is out. The answer is either b or d. Next, it tells me that I'm dealing with a d sublevel. Well, remember, a sublevel, a subshell, they're the same thing. So it's telling me the variable for the sublevel and therefore the subshell. They'd be the same. So the subshell letter would still be d. That means that my answer has to be option b. So that'd be the correct answer out of all the choices that are given.

**PRACTICE:** Provide the identity of an orbital that is in the fourth shell and has a value of for l that is 3.

3f

2p

4p

4f

4d

How many sublevels are contained in the third shell (n = 3) for a given atom?

## Do you want more practice?

### Here’s what students ask on this topic:

What are the subshells associated with each principal quantum number (n)?

The subshells associated with each principal quantum number (n) are as follows: For n=1, the subshell is s; for n=2, the subshells are s and p; for n=3, the subshells are s, p, and d; and for n=4, the subshells are s, p, d, and f. As the principal quantum number increases, the number of subshells also increases, but it does not go beyond the f subshell. This pattern is crucial for understanding electron configurations and the behavior of elements in chemical reactions.

How do subshells relate to electron configurations?

Subshells play a critical role in electron configurations, which describe the distribution of electrons in an atom. Each subshell (s, p, d, f) can hold a specific number of electrons: s can hold 2, p can hold 6, d can hold 10, and f can hold 14. Electrons fill these subshells in a specific order, following the Aufbau principle, Hund's rule, and the Pauli exclusion principle. Understanding subshells helps predict the chemical properties and reactivity of elements.

Why do the number of subshells increase with the principal quantum number?

The number of subshells increases with the principal quantum number (n) because each higher energy level can accommodate more complex shapes and orientations of electron clouds. For n=1, only the s subshell is possible. For n=2, both s and p subshells are possible. For n=3, s, p, and d subshells are possible. For n=4, s, p, d, and f subshells are possible. This increase allows for a greater number of electrons to be accommodated in higher energy levels, which is essential for the structure and stability of larger atoms.

What is the maximum number of electrons that can occupy a subshell?

The maximum number of electrons that can occupy a subshell depends on the type of subshell: s subshell can hold a maximum of 2 electrons, p subshell can hold a maximum of 6 electrons, d subshell can hold a maximum of 10 electrons, and f subshell can hold a maximum of 14 electrons. This is determined by the number of orbitals in each subshell and the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that each orbital can hold a maximum of 2 electrons with opposite spins.

How do subshells affect the chemical properties of elements?

Subshells affect the chemical properties of elements by determining the arrangement of electrons, which in turn influences how atoms interact with each other. The valence electrons, or the electrons in the outermost subshells, play a key role in chemical bonding and reactivity. Elements with similar subshell configurations often exhibit similar chemical properties. For example, elements in the same group of the periodic table have similar valence electron configurations, leading to similar chemical behaviors.