If you are absolutely clueless about what is the periodic table used for, this article will be a helpful read. Here I shall explain what a periodic table is, how it’s read and what is it used for.
On entering your chemistry lab, you are bound to find a big chart labeled as ‘Periodic Table of Elements’ hung over the wall for reference. It is one of the most important reference tables in science which lists all the types of atoms which make our physical world. In this ScienceStruck article, you will find an explanation of what is the periodic table used for and why having it hung in chemistry labs and classrooms is necessary.
About the Periodic Table of Elements
Since ancient times, people have occupied themselves with the task of finding the ultimate building blocks of matter. In the 20th century, that task was accomplished and now we know that everything is made up of atoms. Not only do we know all about atoms today, but stellar physics has also solved the mystery of how these atoms were created. So is everything made up of the same kind of atoms? No. There are as many as 92 different naturally occurring atoms of different kinds which bond with each other to form the complex forms of matter all around us.
Out of the need to classify and identify the relations between these different atoms, a periodic table of elements was created, in which all the chemical elements were arranged according to the atomic number. They are arranged in a grid pattern with a total of 18 columns called ‘groups’ and 7 rows called ‘periods’. When the elements are arranged in this fashion, you can observe periodicity in their properties, according to similarities in electronic configuration.
The reason why chemical elements can be classified in this fashion is the fact that they have a substructure. Every atom is made up of a nucleus, containing protons and neutrons, around which an equal number of electrons revolve in different energy levels. Now that you have some idea about what a periodic table is, let me talk about its utility value.
What Purpose Does a Periodic Table Serve?
For a chemist, physicist or engineer, the periodic table of elements is one of the most useful references. Let us see why.
To Know the Atomic Number of Elements
You can find the atomic number of any element from the periodic table. Atomic number is the number of protons that make up its nucleus, which is equal to the number of electrons revolving around it. In the square denoting every element in the periodic table, the atomic numbers are printed at the top.
To Know the Element Names and Symbols
Firstly, using the periodic table, you can trace the actual name of an element, from its abbreviated name. All chemical reactions are written using abbreviated names of elements and the periodic table can identify the actual element for you, from the symbol used. By checking out the atomic number associated with the symbol, you can identify the actual element.
To Know the Atomic Weight of Elements
If you need to find the atomic weight of any element, you can find it listed in the periodic table in the square boxes allotted to each element. Atomic weight values are necessary for most of the analytical chemistry calculations.
To Know the Electronic Configuration of Elements
By knowing the atomic number of the element from the periodic table and the group (column) it belongs to, you can deduce what is the electronic configuration of the element. In fact, according to the outermost unfilled electrons shells of atoms, the elements are grouped as ‘s-block’, ‘p-block’, ‘d-block’ and ‘f-block’ elements. You can also deduce whether an element is a metal, non-metal, metalloid or a noble element from their position in the periodic table.
Hope this article has eliminated all doubts in your mind about what is the periodic table used for and why it’s a useful reference to have. To summarize all that was talked about in this Buzzle, article, periodic table is used to know the atomic number, atomic weight and the electronic configuration of all the chemical elements. It can also be used to make a comparative analysis of the atomic radius, electronegativity, electron affinity and ionization energy trends of elements. All in all, having a printout of the periodic table of elements glued in front of your study table is a good idea!