inert-pair effect

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An effect seen especially in groups 13 and 14 of the periodic table, in which the heavier elements in the group tend to form compounds with a valency two lower than the expected group valency. It is used to account for the existence of thallium(I) compounds in group 13 and lead(II) in group 14. In forming compounds, elements in these groups promote an electron from a filled s-level state to an empty p-level. The energy required for this is more than compensated for by the extra energy gain in forming two more bonds. For the heavier elements, the bond strengths or lattice energies in the compounds are lower than those of the lighter elements. Consequently the energy compensation is less important and the lower valence states become favoured.

Subjects: Chemistry.

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