Hund’s rule

Hund's rule: every orbital in a subshell is singly occupied with one electron before any one orbital is doubly occupied, and all electrons in singly occupied orbitals have the same spin.

The Aufbau section discussed how that electrons fill the lowest energy orbitals first, and then move up to higher energy orbitals only after the lower energy orbitals are full.

However, there a problem with this rule. Certainly, 1s orbitals should be filled before 2s orbitals, because the 1s orbitals have a lower value of n, and thus a lower energy.

What about the three different 2p orbitals? In what order should they be filled? The answer to this question involves Hund's rule.

Hund's rule states that:

1. Every orbital in a sublevel is singly occupied before any orbital is doubly occupied.

2. All of the electrons in singly occupied orbitals have the same spin (to maximize total spin).

When assigning electrons to orbitals, an electron first seeks to fill all the orbitals with similar energy (also referred to as degenerate orbitals) before pairing with another electron in a half-filled orbital.

Atoms at ground states tend to have as many unpaired electrons as possible.

In visualizing this process, consider how electrons exhibit the same behavior as the same poles on a magnet would if they came into contact; as the negatively charged electrons fill orbitals, they first try to get as far as possible from each other before having to pair up.

Hund's Rule Explained

According to the first rule, electrons always enter an empty orbital before they pair up. Electrons are negatively charged and, as a result, they repel each other.

Electrons tend to minimize repulsion by occupying their own orbitals, rather than sharing an orbital with another electron.

Furthermore, quantum-mechanical calculations have shown that the electrons in singly occupied orbitals are less effectively screened or shielded from the nucleus.

Electron shielding is further discussed in the next section. For the second rule, unpaired electrons in singly occupied orbitals have the same spins.

Technically speaking, the first electron in a sublevel could be either "spin-up" or "spin-down."

Once the spin of the first electron in a sublevel is chosen, however, the spins of all of the other electrons in that sublevel depend on that first spin.

To avoid confusion, scientists typically draw the first electron, and any other unpaired electron, in an orbital as "spin-up."

Hunds rule