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In this unit, students learn about the structure of the atom. They will learn how electrons are arranged in atoms and how this arrangement affects physical and chemical properties. The theory will be illustrated by practical experience of emission spectroscopy and flame tests.

Essential idea

Atomic structure is the unifying concept in Chemistry.

Learning Targets

Topic 2: Atomic Structure (6 hours) - S & HL Students

2.1 The nuclear atom


Global Citizens, Moral Citizen - Isotopes of Uranium, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, use of radioisotopes in medicine.

  • Deduce the structure of atom or ions from nuclear symbols
  • Calculate relative atomic masses and abundance of isotopes from given data

2.2 Electron Configuration

  • Can describe the relationship between colour, wavelength, frequency and energy across the electromagnetic spectrum
  • Understands the difference between a continuous and line spectrum
  • Can describe the emission spectrum of the hydrogen atom
  • Can recognise the shapes of atomic orbitals (s & p)
  • Can apply the Aufbau Principle, Hund's rule and Pauli exclusion principle to write electron configurations for atoms and ions up to Z = 36
  • Can describe the emission spectrum of the hydrogen atom

Topic 12: Atomic Structure (2 hours) - HL students only

12.1 Electrons in atoms

  • Can solve problems using E = hf
  • Can calculate the value of the first ionization energy from spectral data
  • Can deduce element group from ionization energy data
  • an explain trends and discontinuities in first ionization energy data across a period

The detailed curriculum can be consulted here.

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