octet rule

In step toward controlling chemistry, physicists create a new molecule, atom by atom

UCLA physicists have pioneered a method for creating a unique new molecule that could eventually have applications in medicine, food science and other fields. Their research, which also shows how chemical reactions can be studied on a microscopic scale using tools of physics, is reported in the journal Science.

For the past 200 years, scientists have developed rules to describe chemical reactions that they’ve observed, including reactions in food, vitamins, medications and living organisms. One of the most ubiquitous is the “octet rule,” which states that each atom in a molecule that is produced by a chemical reaction will have eight outer orbiting electrons. (Scientists have found exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are rare.)

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The signs as random things my chemistry teacher said
  • <p> <b><p></b> <b>Aries:</b> "Stop asking me dumb questions! *sighs* Please just Google that shit, okay?"<p/><b>Taurus:</b> "This cup of mango juice is better than your grades."<p/><b>Gemini:</b> "Shall I compare thee to a halogen? Cause you're very unstable, Karen."<p/><b>Cancer:</b> *steps inside the classroom with a MCR t-shirt* "WHEN I WAS A YOUNG BOY.."<p/><b>Leo:</b> "Your chance of passing this year is as high as my chance to get laid tonight."<p/><b>Virgo:</b> "It got my degree and now I'm stuck with you idiots! Haha no I'm just kidding." *coughs* "not."<p/><b>Libra:</b> *Walks over to a smooching couple* Seems like you two got chemistry.<p/><b>Scorpio:</b> "You could compare the octet rule to humanity. We all need someone to be with us and keep us stable." *looks trough the window* "Why did you leave me Amanda?"<p/><b>Sagittarius:</b> "I'm gonna dress up as the guy from Despicable Me for Halloween this year. I expect you all to dress as minions. If not, everyone in this class will be facing consequences."<p/><b>Capricorn:</b> *with a thick fake accent* "Bloody hell mate! That is one magnificent jumper you're wearing."<p/><b>Aquarius:</b> "Call me Gouda because boy I've been cheesy as fuck lately."<p/><b>Pisces:</b> "WATCH OUT THAT'S EXPLOSIVE!" *student runs away scared* "Just kidding bro. "<p/></p><p/></p>


In chemistry we’re taught that ions will choose the simplest way to become like a noble gas, e.g. a potassium ion losing one electron to become like argon. But is it possible to make an ion go the hard way to become like a noble gas, like giving potassium an extra seven electrons to become like krypton?

Asked by anonymous


To answer this question, it’s important to understand why other elements and atoms are trying to become like a noble gas.  Noble gases have valence electron shells that are completely full, and because of this, they are very stable.  Valence electrons are those farthest from the atom’s nucleus, so they have the least pull towards the atom and are able to react more easily.  A full valence shell usually has 8 electrons, a number which is so common it is often taught as “the octet rule.” Elemental noble gases have eight electrons, filling their valence shell, and so they don’t react with other molecules to gain or lose electrons.

Other elements want to reach this type of stability.  Let’s look at an example. Chlorine is in Group 7 of the periodic table, and so it has 7 valence electrons. It could lose 7 electrons to reach that noble-gas-like state, or it could simply gain one. Which do you think is easier?  Every time an electron is gained or lost, it becomes harder to add or remove another one, due to electrostatic laws.  In order for the chlorine to become stable “in nature” (meaning outside of a laboratory) the easiest route is to find another molecule that it can steal or share an electron with. So typically, it will gain 1 electron and become a Cl- ion. Sodium, on the other hand, only has 1 valence electron. It would be a lot of work for sodium to find 7 other electrons, and so the easiest route for it is to give away an electron to something else, and become Na+.

So back to the original question: is it possible to force elements to go the other way? The best answer we can give is probably. As we mentioned above, this would not happen in nature. In a laboratory setting, under the right conditions of temperature, pressure, working with certain atoms and ions, it might be possible to make it happen. However, the extreme conditions and large amounts of energy that would be required make it unlikely.

Answered by Emma B., Expert Leader.

Edited by Margaret G.