Why do electrons with orbitals farther from the nucleus have greater e

In summary, the phrase "higher orbitals have higher energy" means that it takes more energy to lift an electron to a higher orbital and less energy to lift it to a lower orbital. This is due to the electrostatic attraction between the nucleus and the electrons, with the inner electrons being more tightly bound and requiring more energy to be released. This concept can also be compared to lifting an object on Earth, where it takes more energy to lift it higher due to the gravitational attraction.
  • #1
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If the electrons closer to the nucleus experience greater electrostatic attraction from the nucleus, would not the closer electrons require more energy to stay in orbit? Also, the electron shielding from the inner electrons would reduce the energy required to stay farther away from the nucleus for electrons in the outer orbitals.

I just don't exactly understand what is meant by the phrase higher orbitals have higher energy.

In terms of the electrons themselves, I don't exactly understand why electrons in farther orbitals have higher energy than those closer to the nucleus Is it a precursor to being in the orbital? And if so, why?

I am currently only in introductory chemistry and physics, and have learned a little about wave functions and how the frequencies of electrons changes as n increases. A clarification on how and why the frequency changes as n increases would also be extremely helpful, along with any additional comments.

Thanks!
 
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  • #2
MathewsMD said:
I just don't exactly understand what is meant by the phrase higher orbitals have higher energy.
It takes work to pull an electron away from an atom. Therefore higher orbitals have higher energy.
 
  • #3
MathewsMD said:
If the electrons closer to the nucleus experience greater electrostatic attraction from the nucleus, would not the closer electrons require more energy to stay in orbit? Also, the electron shielding from the inner electrons would reduce the energy required to stay farther away from the nucleus for electrons in the outer orbitals.

I just don't exactly understand what is meant by the phrase higher orbitals have higher energy.

It means that energy will be released when an electron drops from a higher orbital to a lower one, and conversely that energy has to be added to push an electron into a higher orbital. That's consistent with your observation about shielding and electrostatic attraction.
 
  • #4
May be a gravitational analogy will help. Lifting an object requires energy because it is attracted by Earth's gravity. Similarly lifting an electron to a higher orbit requires energy because it is attracted by the protons in the nucleus
 
  • #5
(In the usual convention), the energy of a bound electron is negative. The electrons in lower energy states are more tightly bound and have lower energies on the number line, but higher absolute value of energy.
 
  • #6
Khashishi said:
(In the usual convention), the energy of a bound electron is negative. The electrons in lower energy states are more tightly bound and have lower energies on the number line, but higher absolute value of energy.

I think that is adding confusion. It is actually wrong. The inner electrons have a lower (i.e.more negative) potential; they have fallen deeper into the potential well of the nucleus. They require more energy for them to be released from the hold of the nucleus. That's all there is to it.
 

1. Why do electrons with orbitals farther from the nucleus have greater energy?

The energy of an electron is directly related to its distance from the nucleus. As an electron moves farther from the nucleus, it becomes less attracted to the positively charged nucleus and experiences a decrease in the attractive force. This results in an increase in the potential energy of the electron, which translates to greater energy. This phenomenon is known as the energy level or shell of the electron.

2. How does the distance from the nucleus affect the energy of an electron?

The distance from the nucleus affects the energy of an electron through the attractive force between the negatively charged electron and the positively charged nucleus. As the distance between the two increases, the attractive force decreases, resulting in an increase in the potential energy of the electron. This is why electrons in orbitals farther from the nucleus have greater energy.

3. Is there a limit to how far an electron can be from the nucleus?

Yes, there is a limit to how far an electron can be from the nucleus. This limit is determined by the energy level or shell of the electron. The further an electron is from the nucleus, the higher its energy level will be. Electrons cannot exist in energy levels higher than the maximum energy level allowed by the atom's configuration.

4. Why do higher energy levels have more orbitals than lower energy levels?

Higher energy levels have more orbitals than lower energy levels because they have a greater potential energy and can accommodate more electrons. The number of orbitals in an energy level is determined by the principle quantum number, which increases as the energy level increases. This means that higher energy levels have a larger number of orbitals available for electrons to occupy.

5. Do all electrons in the same energy level have the same energy?

No, not all electrons in the same energy level have the same energy. Electrons in the same energy level can have different energies depending on their specific orbital. For example, the s orbital has a lower energy than the p orbital in the same energy level. This is why electrons in different orbitals within the same energy level can have different energies.

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