Problem: Two possible electron configurations for an Li atom are shown here.In the absence of an external magnetic field, can we say that one electron configuration has a lower energy than the other?

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We have to determine if one electron configuration of the two given configurations, will have a lower energy in the absence of an external magnetic field.


The two given electron configurations only differ in the spin of the electron in the 2s orbital.

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Problem Details

Two possible electron configurations for an Li atom are shown here.

Both configuration A and B have two electrons (one up, one down) in the 1s orbital and one in the 2s orbital.  Configuration A has the 2s electron pointing up while configuration B has it pointing down.


In the absence of an external magnetic field, can we say that one electron configuration has a lower energy than the other?

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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 The Electron Configuration concept. You can view video lessons to learn The Electron Configuration. Or if you need more The Electron Configuration practice, you can also practice The Electron Configuration practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Curtis' class at UNC.