Spectroscopic notation

To make life even more complictated, the l values of the quantum numbers are often refered to through spectroscopic notation. In such notation s, p, d, f, g... replace l = 0,1,2,3,4... The syntax is best explained by example. For instance, an iron atom with 26 electrons would have its electronic configuration labeled as:


Note that the last level could hold 10 electrons although only 8 were needed to reach 26. Such labeling is useful since chemical properties of atoms are primarily determined by the number of electrons it takes to fill the last shell and the number of excess electrons beyond the last filled shell.

Examples     Atomic physics' index