The Basics

By: Abdullah, Meaghan, and Alba

What is an Electron Configuration?

Who first found out that each element has an Electron Configuration?

How do you figure out the electron configuration of an atom on the Periodic Table?

An electron configuration is a shorthand way to keep track of all the electrons in an atom of an element for all the subshells that have electrons. The number of electrons in each subshell is shown as a superscript.


The man in the photo above is Niels Bohr, who discovered that Electron Configurations exist in the first place.
He was born in Copenhagen on October 7, 1885 and died on November 18, 1962. He married Margrethe Nørlund in 1912. He is a physicist. He did not only discover Electron Configurations, but he also investigated the atomic structure of atoms and is known to have worked on radiation. The following are some of the awards that were awarded to him: Noble Prize (1922), Fellow of the Royal Society (1926), Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1927), Royal Society Copley Medal (1938), and LMS Honorary Member (1939).

Niels Bohr's emblem:

"It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature."
-Niels Bohr


To figure out the electron configuration of an atom on the Periodic Table, refer to this image:

s= 1st subshell
p= 2nd subshell
d=3rd subshell
f=4th subshell
The number that precedes each letter represents what the sequence of the shell is in the atom. For example, 7s represents the FIRST subshell of the SEVENTH shell in the atom.

1. "Electron Configurations" Library Thinkquest. Oracle. Nov. 11 2009

2. "Niels Henrik David Bohr". Gap-System. Oct. 2003. Nov. 11 2009

3. "Quotations by Niels Bohr". Gap-System. Feb. 2006. Nov. 11 2009

4. "The Chemistry of Gems" The Gemology Project. May 30 2009. Wikipedia. Nov. 7 2009