I am having trouble figuring out the electron configuration for a carbon atom when it is in a molecule such as methane. I know that the ground state configuration for carbon is 1s2 2s2 2p2 but im not sure how to figure it out when it is bonded to other atoms. Thank you for the help.

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asked by Abbey
  1. When bonding in organic molecules in which the C atom shares the four electrons, what happens is that the ground state of 1s2 2s2 2p2 and one of the two 2s2 electrons gets promoted to the 2p and the configuration becomes 1s2 2s1 2p3. Then the 2s1 and 2p3 hybridize to form an sp3 hybrid. In methane,(CH4) the H atoms then share their one electron with each of the electrons in sp3. I'm not sure this answers you question; it may not have been this at all. If not post with more explanation with an example or two and I can address that.

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    posted by DrBob222
  2. So the C in methane would be sp3 correct? So does this mean that the electron config would be 1s orbital with an up and down arrow, 2 sp2 orbitals with 3 single up arrows, and a 2p orbital with a single up arrow?

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    posted by Abbey
  3. Sorry, the electron config that I posted was for sp2 which I am still not sure is correct.

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    posted by Abbey
  4. Yes, 1s2 2s1 2p3 would be
    2s up, 2p up 2p up 2 up BUT then the four hybridize to form four sp3 hybrid bonds.

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    posted by DrBob222
  5. So since the four of them hybridize how do I write that? Do I just show 1s2 2s2 2p3?

    Also for an sp carbon is this electron configuration correct: 1s orbital up and down, 2sp orbital up and up, and 2p orbital up and up?

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    posted by Hannah

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