Problem: The discovery of hafnium, element number 72, provided a controversial episode in chemistry. G. Urbain, a French chemist, claimed in 1911 to have isolated an element number 72 from a sample of rare earth (elements 58-71) compounds. However, Niels Bohr believed that hafnium was more likely to be found along with zirconium than with the rare earths. D. Coster and G. von Hevesy, working in Bohrs laboratory in Copenhagen, showed in 1922 that element 72 was present in a sample of Norwegian zircon, an ore of zirconium. (The name hafnium comes from the Latin name for Copenhagen, Hafnia) .Using their electron configurations, account for the fact that Zr and Hf form chlorides MCl4 and oxides MO2.

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We are asked to use electron configuration to account for the fact that Zr and Hf form chlorides MCl4 and oxides MO2.

You can determine the ground-state electron configuration of Zirconium (Zr) by referring to the periodic table and locating the position of Zr in the periodic table.

Ground-state means that the element is in its lowest energy form (not in excited state). Zr has no charge which means that no electrons are removed or added in the atom.

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Problem Details

The discovery of hafnium, element number 72, provided a controversial episode in chemistry. G. Urbain, a French chemist, claimed in 1911 to have isolated an element number 72 from a sample of rare earth (elements 58-71) compounds. However, Niels Bohr believed that hafnium was more likely to be found along with zirconium than with the rare earths. D. Coster and G. von Hevesy, working in Bohrs laboratory in Copenhagen, showed in 1922 that element 72 was present in a sample of Norwegian zircon, an ore of zirconium. (The name hafnium comes from the Latin name for Copenhagen, Hafnia) .

Using their electron configurations, account for the fact that Zr and Hf form chlorides MCl4 and oxides MO2.

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What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Electron Configuration concept. You can view video lessons to learn Electron Configuration. Or if you need more Electron Configuration practice, you can also practice Electron Configuration practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Holland's class at SDSU.