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Why is oxygen more paramagnetic than nitrogen?

  1. Sep 7, 2012 #1
    nitrogen has the outer shell coniguration of 2s2 2p3 and thus has 3 unpaired electrons.while oxygen has only 2 unpaired electrons.why is oxygen more paramagnetic than liquid nitrogen then?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2012 #2
    Nitrogen molecule N2 has not any unpaired electrons.
  4. Sep 8, 2012 #3
    Oxygen is paramagnetic because its ground state is a triplet, meaning 2 unpaired electrons (a diradical). The Lewis structure that is typically drawn in introductory Chemistry classes where there is a double bond between the Oxygen atoms is actually the singlet state which is less stable than the triplet state. There are labs which are working on ways of generating singlet Oxygen in an attempt to sterilize solutions or equipment etc.

    For the full explanation you need to understand Molecular Orbital Theory.
  5. Sep 8, 2012 #4
    thank you for your answers!!i get it now...i was actually thinking about atoms and not molecules..i am an idiot.
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