⚛️ How Many Valence Electrons Does Carbon Have?

Carbon has 4 valence electrons in the outermost shell. Carbon has atomic number 6 which belongs to group 14 in the periodic table. A carbon atom has a total of 6 electrons revolving around the nucleus. The innermost shell of the carbon is fully occupied with 2 electrons in the 1s orbital while the next shell which is also the outermost shell gets partially filled with the remaining 4 electrons. These four electrons are the valence electrons of the carbon that are present in the 2s and 2p orbitals of the outermost shell.

What are valence electrons in Carbon?

Valence electrons are the electrons present in the outermost shell of an atom. These valence electrons actively participate in the formation of various chemical bonds if the outermost shell partially occupied. The presence of the valence electrons is responsible for the chemical properties of that element.

In the case of the carbon atom, there are 4 valence electrons in the outermost shell which form a covalent bond with other atoms. Let us take the example of Methane (CH4) which is consists of one carbon and four hydrogen atoms. The four valence electrons of the carbon atom form a covalent bond with the one valence electron present in the hydrogen atom.

How to read an electron configuration in Carbon?

One of the best ways to find the number of valence electrons in carbon is by writing down the electron configuration in a carbon atom. Electron configuration is the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus in different orbitals and energy levels. There are different types of orbitals such as s, p, d, and f. The maximum capacity of s, p, d, and f orbitals is 2, 6, 10, and 14 respectively.

Energy Level (n)Number of orbitalsMaximum number of electrons (2n2)
2s, p8
3s, p, d18
4s, p, d, f32

The electrons in different orbitals are filled based on the Aufbau principle which states that the electrons are filled into the orbitals of the lowest available energy levels before occupying higher levels.

So based on the Aufbau principle, the electron configuration of carbon is 1s2 2s2 2p2.  

How to find valence electrons in carbon?

Method 1:

According the electron configuration of carbon atom,

1s2 2s2 2p2

There are 4 valence electrons (2s2 2p2) in the outermost shell of the carbon atom.

Method 2:

The valence electron of the carbon can be determined using a Periodic Table. Each column in the Periodic Table represents a group of elements. All elements in a column have the same number of valence electrons but in different energy levels.

From the above periodic table, one can easily find out the valence electron of the carbon atom. Carbon atom belongs to group 14 in which all elements have 4 valence electrons.

Professor Atom

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Professor Atom is a science enthusiast and alumni of IIT Bombay. According to him, every question can be solved with curiosity and mind mapping. ( Curiosity = Asking Questions = Learning )

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