Oxygen – Protons – Neutrons – Electrons – Electron Configuration


Oxygen is a colourless, odourless reactive gas, the chemical element of atomic number 8 and the life-supporting component of the air. It is a member of the chalcogen group on the periodic table, a highly reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds.

Common uses of oxygen include production of steel, plastics and textiles, brazing, welding and cutting of steels and other metals, rocket propellant, oxygen therapy, and life support systems in aircraft, submarines, spaceflight and diving.

One hundred million tonnes of oxygen are extracted from air for industrial uses annually by two primary methods. The most common method is fractional distillation of liquefied air, with nitrogen distilling as a vapor while oxygen is left as a liquid. The other primary method of producing oxygen is passing a stream of clean, dry air through one bed of a pair of identical zeolite molecular sieves, which absorbs the nitrogen and delivers a gas stream that is 90% to 93% oxygen.

Protons and Neutrons in Oxygen

Proton Number - Atomic NumberOxygen is a chemical element with atomic number 8 which means there are 8 protons in its nucleus. Total number of protons in the nucleus is called the atomic number of the atom and is given the symbol Z. The total electrical charge of the nucleus is therefore +Ze, where e (elementary charge) equals to 1,602 x 10-19 coulombs.

The total number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom is called the neutron number of the atom and is given the symbol N. Neutron number plus atomic number equals atomic mass number: N+Z=A. The difference between the neutron number and the atomic number is known as the neutron excess: D = N – Z = A – 2Z.

For stable elements, there is usually a variety of stable isotopes. Isotopes are nuclides that have the same atomic number and are therefore the same element, but differ in the number of neutrons. Mass numbers of typical isotopes of Oxygen are 16; 17; 18. 

Main Isotopes of Oxygen

Naturally occurring oxygen is composed of three stable isotopes, 16O, 17O, and 18O, with 16O being the most abundant (99.762% natural abundance).

Oxygen-16 is composed of 8 protons, 8 neutrons, and 8 electrons. Most 16O is synthesized at the end of the helium fusion process in stars; the triple-alpha reaction creates 12C, which captures an additional 4He to make 16O. The relative and absolute abundance of 16O is high because it is a principal product of stellar evolution.

Oxygen-17 is composed of 8 protons, 9 neutrons, and 8 electrons. Both 17O and 18O are secondary isotopes, meaning that their nucleosynthesis requires seed nuclei.

Oxygen-18 is composed of 8 protons, 10 neutrons, and 8 electrons.

Oxygen-15, which is an unstable isotope of oxygen, is composed of 8 protons, 7 neutrons, and 8 electrons. It is frequently used in positron emission tomography, or PET imaging. Oxygen-15 is synthesized through deuteron bombardment of nitrogen-14 using a cyclotron.

Stable Isotopes

Isotope Abundance Neutron Number
16O 99.76% 8
17O 0.04% 9
18O 0.20% 10

Typical Unstable Isotopes

Isotope Half-life Decay Mode Product
13O 8.58(5) ms positive beta decay 13N
15O 122.24(16) s positive beta decay 15N

Electrons and Electron Configuration

The number of electrons in an electrically-neutral atom is the same as the number of protons in the nucleus. Therefore, the number of electrons in neutral atom of Oxygen is 8. Each electron is influenced by the electric fields produced by the positive nuclear charge and the other (Z – 1) negative electrons in the atom.

Since the number of electrons and their arrangement are responsible for the chemical behavior of atoms, the atomic number identifies the various chemical elements. The configuration of these electrons follows from the principles of quantum mechanics. The number of electrons in each element’s electron shells, particularly the outermost valence shell, is the primary factor in determining its chemical bonding behavior. In the periodic table, the elements are listed in order of increasing atomic number Z.

Electron configuration of Oxygen is [He] 2s2 2p4.

Possible oxidation states are -2.

Oxygen is too chemically reactive to remain a free element in air without being continuously replenished by the photosynthetic action of living organisms. It is a strong oxidizing agent with high electronegativity and forms O2 at Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP). Metal oxides typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2. Most of the Earth’s crust consists of solid oxides, the result of elements being oxidized by the oxygen in air or water. ven materials considered pure elements often develop an oxide coating. For example, aluminum foil develops a thin skin of Al2O3 (called a passivation layer) that protects the foil from further corrosion. Due to its electronegativity, oxygen forms stable chemical bonds with almost all elements to give the corresponding oxides.

Most Common Chemical Compound of Oxygen

Water is the most common chemical compound of hydrogen and oxygen. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, connected by covalent bonds.Two hydrogen atoms attached one oxygen atom at angle of 104.45°.

About Protons

protonA proton is one of the subatomic particles that make up matter. In the universe, protons are abundant, making up about half of all visible matter. It has a positive electric charge (+1e) and a rest mass equal to 1.67262 × 10−27 kg (938.272 MeV/c2)— marginally lighter than that of the neutron but nearly 1836 times greater than that of the electron. The proton has a mean square radius of about 0.87 × 10−15 m, or 0.87 fm, and it is a spin – ½ fermion.

The protons exist in the nuclei of typical atoms, along with their neutral counterparts, the neutrons. Neutrons and protons, commonly called nucleons, are bound together in the atomic nucleus, where they account for 99.9 percent of the atom’s mass. Research in high-energy particle physics in the 20th century revealed that neither the neutron nor the proton is not the smallest building block of matter.

About Neutrons

A neutron is one of the subatomic particles that make up matter. In the universe, neutrons are abundant, making up more than half of all visible matter. It has no electric charge and a rest mass equal to 1.67493 × 10−27 kg—marginally greater than that of the proton but nearly 1839 times greater than that of the electron. The neutron has a mean square radius of about 0.8×10−15 m, or 0.8 fm, and it is a spin-½ fermion.

Atomic nuclei consist of protons and neutrons, which attract each other through the nuclear force, while protons repel each other via the electric force due to their positive charge. These two forces compete, leading to various stability of nuclei. There are only certain combinations of neutrons and protons, which forms stable nuclei.

Neutrons stabilize the nucleus, because they attract each other and protons , which helps offset the electrical repulsion between protons. As a result, as the number of protons increases, an increasing ratio of neutrons to protons is needed to form a stable nucleus. If there are too many or too few neutrons for a given number of protons, the resulting nucleus is not stable and it undergoes radioactive decayUnstable isotopes decay through various radioactive decay pathways, most commonly alpha decay, beta decay, or electron capture. Many other rare types of decay, such as spontaneous fission or neutron emission are known. It should be noted that all of these decay pathways may be accompanied by the subsequent emission of gamma radiation. Pure alpha or beta decays are very rare.

About Electrons and Electron Configuration

The periodic table is a tabular display of the chemical elements organized on the basis of their atomic numbers, electron configurations, and chemical properties. The electron configuration is the distribution of electrons of an atom or molecule (or other physical structure) in atomic or molecular orbitals. Knowledge of the electron configuration of different atoms is useful in understanding the structure of the periodic table of elements.

Every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma is composed of neutral or ionized atoms. The chemical properties of the atom are determined by the number of protons, in fact, by number and arrangement of electrons. The configuration of these electrons follows from the principles of quantum mechanics. The number of electrons in each element’s electron shells, particularly the outermost valence shell, is the primary factor in determining its chemical bonding behavior. In the periodic table, the elements are listed in order of increasing atomic number Z.

It is the Pauli exclusion principle that requires the electrons in an atom to occupy different energy levels instead of them all condensing in the ground state. The ordering of the electrons in the ground state of multielectron atoms, starts with the lowest energy state (ground state) and moves progressively from there up the energy scale until each of the atom’s electrons has been assigned a unique set of quantum numbers. This fact has key implications for the building up of the periodic table of elements.

electron configuration - blocks - elementsThe first two columns on the left side of the periodic table are where the s subshells are being occupied. Because of this, the first two rows of the periodic table are labeled the s block. Similarly, the p block are the right-most six columns of the periodic table, the d block is the middle 10 columns of the periodic table, while the f block is the 14-column section that is normally depicted as detached from the main body of the periodic table. It could be part of the main body, but then the periodic table would be rather long and cumbersome.

For atoms with many electrons, this notation can become lengthy and so an abbreviated notation is used. The electron configuration can be visualized as the core electrons, equivalent to the noble gas of the preceding period, and the valence electrons (e.g. [Xe] 6s2 for barium).

Oxidation States

Oxidation states are typically represented by integers which may be positive, zero, or negative. Most elements have more than one possible oxidation state. For example, carbon has nine possible integer oxidation states from −4 to +4.

The current IUPAC Gold Book definition of oxidation state is:

“Oxidation state of an atom is the charge of this atom after ionic approximation of its heteronuclear bonds…”

and the term oxidation number is nearly synonymous. An element that is not combined with any other different elements has an oxidation state of 0. Oxidation state 0 occurs for all elements – it is simply the element in its elemental form. An atom of an element in a compound will have a positive oxidation state if it has had electrons removed. Similarly, adding electrons results in a negative oxidation state. We have also distinguish between the possible and common oxidation states of every element. For example, silicon has nine possible integer oxidation states from −4 to +4, but only -4, 0 and +4 are common oxidation states.


Element Oxygen
Number of protons 8
Number of neutrons (typical isotopes) 16; 17; 18
Number of electrons 8
Electron configuration [He] 2s2 2p4
Oxidation states -2


Source: www.luciteria.com


Properties of other elements

Oxygen - Comparison of Protons - Neutrons and Electrons

Periodic Table in 8K resolution

Other properties of Oxygen