what do you mean by electron affinity?

Asked by  | 24th Jun, 2008, 10:25: PM

Expert Answer:

The electron affinity, Eea, of an atom or molecule is the energy required to detach an electron from a singly charged negative ion, i.e., the energy change for the process

X- → X + e

An equivalent definition is the energy released (Einitial − Efinal) when an electron is attached to a neutral atom or molecule. It should be noted that the sign convention for Eea is the opposite to most thermodynamic quantities: a positive electron affinity indicates that energy is released on going from atom to anion.

Ionisation energies are always concerned with the formation of positive ions. Electron affinities are the negative ion equivalent, and their use is almost always confined to elements in groups 6 and 7 of the Periodic Table.

The first electron affinity is the energy released when 1 mole of gaseous atoms each acquire an electron to form 1 mole of gaseous 1- ions.

This is more easily seen in symbol terms. First electron affinities have negative values. For example, the first electron affinity of chlorine is -349 kJ mol-1. By convention, the negative sign shows a release of energy  It is the energy released (per mole of X) when this change happens.


ea generally increases across a period (row) in the periodic table. This is caused by the filling of the valence shell of the atom; a group 7A atom releases more energy than a group 1A atom on gaining an electron because it obtains a filled valence shell.

A trend of decreasing Eea going down the groups in the periodic table would be expected. The additional electron will be entering an orbital farther away from the nucleus, and thus would experience a lesser effective nuclear charge. However, a clear counterexample to this trend can be found in group 2A, and this trend only applies to group 1A atoms.

Answered by  | 26th Jun, 2008, 12:52: PM

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