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Question

How would you explain the fact that the first ionization enthalpy of sodium is lower than that of magnesium but its second ionization enthalpy is higher than that of magnesium?

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Solution

The first ionization enthalpy of sodium is lower than that of magnesium. This is primarily because of two reasons:
a. The atomic size of sodium[Na(11)] is greater than that of magnesium[Mg(12)]
b. The effective nuclear charge of magnesium is higher than that of sodium
Based on the above reasons, the energy required to remove an electron from magnesium is more than the energy required in sodium. Hence, the first ionization enthalpy of sodium is lower than that of magnesium.
However, the second ionization enthalpy of sodium is higher than that of magnesium because:

Na(11) - 1s22s22p63s1

Mg(12) - 1s22s22p63s2

  • After losing an electron, sodium attains the stable noble gas configuration.
  • On the other hand, magnesium, after losing an electron still has one electron in the 3s-orbital. In order to attain the stable noble gas configuration, it still has to lose one more electron.
  • Thus, the energy required to remove the second electron in the case of sodium is much higher than that required in the case of magnesium.

Hence, the second ionization enthalpy of sodium is higher than that of magnesium.


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