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exclusion principle,physical principle enunciated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 stating that no two electrons in an atomatom
[Gr.,=uncuttable (indivisible)], basic unit of matter; more properly, the smallest unit of a chemical element having the properties of that element. Structure of the Atom
..... Click the link for more information. can occupy the same energy state simultaneously. The energy states, or levels, in an atom are described in the quantum theoryquantum theory,
modern physical theory concerned with the emission and absorption of energy by matter and with the motion of material particles; the quantum theory and the theory of relativity together form the theoretical basis of modern physics.
..... Click the link for more information. by various values of four different quantum numbers; the exclusion principle holds that no two electrons can have the same four quantum numbers in an atom. One of these quantum numbers describes one of the two possible directions for the electron's intrinsic spin. As a result of the exclusion principle, two electrons that are in the same energy level as described by the other three quantum numbers are differentiated from each other because they have opposite spins. This principle applies not only to atoms but to other systems containing particles as well, and it applies not only to electrons but also to a large class of particles collectively known as fermions (see elementary particleselementary particles,
the most basic physical constituents of the universe. Basic Constituents of Matter
Molecules are built up from the atom, which is the basic unit of any chemical element. The atom in turn is made from the proton, neutron, and electron.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
No two electrons may simultaneously occupy the same quantum state. This principle, often called the Pauli principle, was first formulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 and, for time-independent quantum states, it means that no two electrons may be described by state functions which are characterized by exactly the same quantum numbers. In addition to electrons, all known particles having half-integer intrinsic angular momentum, or spin, obey the exclusion principle. It plays a central role in the understanding of many diverse phenomena, including the periodic table of the elements and their chemical activities, the electron contribution to the specific heat of metals, the shell structure in the atomic nucleus analogous to that of electrons in atoms, and certain symmetries in the scattering of identical particles. See Angular momentum, Quantum numbers, Spin (quantum mechanics)
Using the fact that a system will try to occupy the state of lowest possible energy, the electron configuration of atoms may be understood by simply filling the single-particle energy levels according to the Pauli principle. This is the basis of Niels Bohr's explanation of the periodic table. See Atomic structure and spectra, Electron configuration