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Paramagnetism and Diamagnetism Worked Problem

Worked Example Chemistry Problems

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You don't need a magnet to determine an element's magnetic properties.

You don't need a magnet to determine an element's magnetic properties.

from Practical Physics, Macmillan and Company (1914)

Here is a worked example problem showing how to tell whether an element is paramagnetic or diamagnetic based on its electron configuration.

Problem

Which of the following elements would be expected to be paramagnetic? Diamagnetic?

He, Be, Li, N

Solution

All of the electrons are spin-paired in diamagnetic elements so their subshells are completed, causing them to be unaffected by magnetic fields. Paramagnetic elements are strongly affected by magnetic fields because their subshells are not completely filled with electrons. So, to determine whether the elements are paramagnetic or diamagnetic, write out the electron configuration for each element.

He: 1s2 subshell is filled

Be: 1s22s2 subshell is filled

Li: 1s22s1 subshell is not filled

N: 1s22s22p3 subshell is not filled

Answer

Li and N are paramagnetic. He and Be are diamagnetic.

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