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Properties of the Transition Metals Cheat Sheet by

properties     transition     metals


The transition metals are the group of metals in the middle section of the periodic table. They are divided into three groups - the first row transition metals, the second row transition metals and, guess what, the third row transition metals.

Note: chromium and copper a do not fill the outer shell in the order you would expect.

Why are they called the transition metals? They are the metals which make the transition to using the d-orbitals for their bonding. Hence they are sometimes called the d-block elements. (The f-block elements are the ones which make the transition to using their f-orbitals for bonding.)

Transition Metals Properties

All the transition metals have certain properties in common:
Five d orbitals become more filled, from left to right on periodic table
Partly filled d-shell either as the element or in their compounds (apart from Zn).
Low ionization energies. When forming ions, they all start by losing the 4s electron first, then the 4d electrons.
Form complex ions, with various co-ord­ination numbers and geomet­ries.
Many form parama­gnetic compounds (have unpaired electr­ons).
Shiny metals with the typical metallic grey/white color, except gold (gold colored) & copper (copper colored).
Good conductors of heat and electr­icity.
High densities. Usually very hard and and tough.
Malleable, can be hammered or bent into shape easily
Have high melting and boiling points - - but mercury is a liquid at room temper­ature
Form colored compounds (apart from Sc and Zn).
Less reactive than alkali metals such as sodium
Positive oxidation states. Have several stable oxidation states or valencies.
Many are used as catalysts, either as the metal itself or as some of their compounds.

Transition Metals

Electronic Config­uration

Transition Metal Catalysts

The important thing about catalysts is that they are recovered at the end of the reaction in their entirety, they are not used up during the reaction. They often undergo a temporary change during the reaction, but are turned back into the original chemical at the end of the reaction.

Catalysts change the rate of a reaction, but do not alter the position of equili­brium.

Although the yield within a short time seems more, the overall yield from the slow reaction would eventually be the same, but as it can take ages to get that far we usually don't wait that long.

Transition metal catalysts are either homoge­neous catalysts or hetero­geneous catalysts.

Homoge­neous catalysts are those in the same physical phase as the other reactants e.g. all in solution together in the same solvent, or all are gases.

Hetero­geneous catalysts are those in a different physical phase to the rest of the reactants. E.G. two different liquids in contact with catalysis occurring at the interface between them, or more commonly a solid catalyst and a solution, or a solid and gases.

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