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General Properties Of Zero Group Elements

Chemical Bonding
What are zero group elements?

The elements which have a stable electronic configuration of s2 p6 and have very little or zero tendency to react with other elements are called zero group elements or inert gases or zero valent gases. However, under certain conditions, these gases show certain degree of reactivity. Hence, they are now being called as noble gases rather than inert gases.

Elements included under this group are helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon. Except radon all the other elements are present in very small amounts in the atmosphere. Argon is the most abundant noble gas present in atmosphere. Radon is a radioactive element which is generated by the disintegration of radium which is a radioactive element. Radon is also radioactive. Zero group elements are also called as rare gases as they are present in very less amount in atmosphere.

It should be noted that these noble gases have no space in the Mendeleevís periodic table. In the Moseley periodic table they are placed between the most electronegative elements and the most electropositive elements.

Now, let us see some of the general properties of these noble gases.

Atomic radii:

The atomic radius increases with the increase in the atomic number due to the addition of a new shell. Due to addition of a new shell the electron cloud increases and hence the atomic radius.

Ionization energies:

Due to the presence of a very stable electronic configuration in their outer shells, these elements have very high ionization energies. In a particular period, noble gases have highest ionization energies. In a group, the ionization energies of the noble gases decrease as we move down the group. This is due to increase in the atomic radius and the screening effect.

Electron affinity:

As said earlier, the outermost shell of the noble gases have s2 p6 configuration. Thus, there is no space to accommodate a new electron. Hence, they have zero electron affinity.


Due to completely filled orbitals, these elements have zero electron affinity and high ionization energy. Hence, they do not combine with other elements or even among themselves and exist as monoatomic molecules.

Force of attraction between atoms:

From the above properties it can be very easily said that the forces of attraction between atoms of noble gases are very weak vanderwaals type. As the ionization energy decreases when we move down the group, the vanderwaals forces between atoms increase as we move down the group from He to Xe. This property is evident by the increasing melting and boiling points of the gases as we move down the group.


As the vanderwaals forces between atoms are very weak, they are very hard to liquefy. Within a group, the vanderwaals forces increase as we move down the group. Thus, the ease of liquefaction increases as we move down the group.

Solubility in water:

They are very less soluble in water. Water solubility increases as we move down the group.

Adsorption by wood charcoal:

This is an important property which is used in the separation of noble gases from each other. All noble gases adsorb to the wood charcoal at very low temperature. The degree of absorbability increases as we move down the group with the increase in atomic weights. Thus, helium has very low capacity to adsorb to the wood charcoal.

Ability to give characteristic spectra: all noble gases give characteristic spectra. This property helps in distinguishing the various noble gases. For example, helium gives characteristic spectra with orange and red lines.

Chemical nature:

They are very inert gases with very zero reactivity. The reactivity increases as we move down the group.

Solved problems
  • What is electronic configuration of noble gases?

    • s2 p6
    • s2 p5
    • s2 p3
    • s p6
    Answer: a
  • What is the most abundant noble gas present in atmosphere?

    • Xenon
    • Radon
    • Krypton
    • Argon
    Answer: d
  • Which of the following is true in case of noble gases?

    • They have high ionization potential
    • They have zero electron affinity
    • They have completely filled valence shells
    • All the above
    Answer: d
  • Noble gases exist as

    • Single atoms
    • Diatoms
    • a and b
    • None
    Answer: a

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