Electron Shell

In chemistry and atomic physics, an electron shell, also called a principle energy level may be thought of as an orbit followed by electrons around an atom's nucleus. The closest shell to the nucleus is called the "1 shell" (also called "K shell"), followed by the "2 shell" (or "L shell"), then the "3 shell" (or "M shell"), and so on farther and farther from the nucleus. The shells correspond with the principal quantum numbers (1, 2, 3, 4...) or are labeled alphabetically with letters used in the X-ray notation (K, L, M, …).

Each shell can contain only a fixed number of electrons: The 1st shell can hold up to two electrons, the 2nd shell can hold up to eight electrons, the 3rd shell can hold up to 18, and 4th shell can hold up to 32 and so on. Since electrons are electrically attracted to the nucleus, an atom's electrons will generally occupy outer shells only if the more inner shells have already been completely filled by other electrons. However, this is not a strict requirement: Atoms may have two or even three incomplete outer shells. (See Madelung rule for more details.) For an explanation of why electrons exist in these shells see electron configuration.

The electrons in the outermost occupied shell (or shells) determine the chemical properties of the atom; it is called the valence shell.

Each shell consists of one or more subshells, and each subshell consists of one or more atomic orbitals.

Read more about Electron Shell:  History, Shells, Subshells, Number of Electrons in Each Shell, Valence Shells, List of Elements With Electrons Per Shell, See Also

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