Squeezing All Elements in the Periodic Table: Electron Configuration and Electronegativity of the Atoms under Compression
Journal article, 2019

We present a quantum mechanical model capable of describing isotropic compression of single atoms in a non-reactive neon-like environment. Studies of 93 atoms predict drastic changes to ground-state electronic configurations and electronegativity in the pressure range of 0-300 GPa. This extension of atomic reference data assists in the working of chemical intuition at extreme pressure and can act as a guide to both experiments and computational efforts. For example, we can speculate on the existence of pressure-induced polarity (red-ox) inversions in various alloys. Our study confirms that the filling of energy levels in compressed atoms more closely follows the hydrogenic aufbau principle, where the ordering is determined by the principal quantum number. In contrast, the Madelung energy ordering rule is not predictive for atoms under compression. Magnetism may increase or decrease with pressure, depending on which atom is considered. However, Hund's rule is never violated for single atoms in the considered pressure range. Important (and understandable) electron shifts, s→p, s→d, s→f, and d→f are essential chemical and physical consequences of compression. Among the specific intriguing changes predicted are an increase in the range between the most and least electronegative elements with compression; a rearrangement of electronegativities of the alkali metals with pressure, with Na becoming the most electropositive s1 element (while Li becomes a p group element and K and heavier become transition metals); phase transitions in Ca, Sr, and Ba correlating well with s→d transitions; spin-reduction in all d-block atoms for which the valence d-shell occupation is dn (4 ≤ n ≤ 8); d→f transitions in Ce, Dy, and Cm causing Ce to become the most electropositive element of the f-block; f→d transitions in Ho, Dy, and Tb and a s→f transition in Pu. At high pressure Sc and Ti become the most electropositive elements, while Ne, He, and F remain the most electronegative ones.


Martin Rahm

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Roberto Cammi

University of Parma

N. W. Ashcroft

Cornell University

Roald Hoffmann

Cornell University

Journal of the American Chemical Society

0002-7863 (ISSN) 1520-5126 (eISSN)

Vol. 141 26 10253-10271

Subject Categories

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics

Theoretical Chemistry

Condensed Matter Physics





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