2. The Periodic Table

OCW Scholar

« Previous | Next »

Session Overview

Modules Structure of the Atom
Concepts classification schemes for the elements, periodic table, atomic structure, stoichiometry
Keywords periodic table, matter, atom, John Dalton, compound, electron number, proton number, neutron number, electron, proton, neutron, electron charge, proton charge, elementary charge, wavelength, frequency, energy, superheavy, Dmitri Mendeleev, conservation of mass, bomb reactor, gas, liquid, solid, electronegativity, chemical reaction, chemical equation, chemical symbol, chemical formula, atomic mass, atomic mass unit, atomic weight, atomic number, neutral atom, ion, ionization energy, mass number, stoichiometry, mole, isotope, isotopic abundance, coulomb, degrees Kelvin, Jöns Berzelius, Amedeo Avogadro, Michael Faraday, quantized electric charge, Faraday's constant, Robert Millikan, oil drop experiment, Avogadro's number, Alexander Borodin
Chemical Substances carbon (C), titanium (Ti), ekasilicon (Es), germanium (Ge)
Applications Kroll process for producing titanium metal


Before starting this session, you should be familiar with:

Looking Ahead

Prof. Sadoway describes Rutherford's model of the atom and Bohr's model of hydrogen (Session 3).

Learning Objectives

After completing this session, you should be able to:

  • Explain the structure and layout of the periodic table of elements.
  • Understand the structure of chemical formulas.
  • Apply the concepts of stoichiometry to balance a chemical equation.
  • Understand the relationship between frequency, wavelength and energy for photons.
  • Identify the superheavy elements.
  • Describe the structure of the atom and the properties of the electron, proton and neutron.
  • Define an isotope and understand the naming convention for isotopes.
  • Calculate the number of electrons in an ion.
  • Define ionization energy.


Book Chapters Topics
[A&E] 1.6, "Isotopes and Atomic Masses." Isotopes and atomic masses
[A&E] 1.7, "Introduction to the Periodic Table." Metals, nonmetals, and semimetals; chemistry of the groups
[A&E] 3.1, "The Mole and Molar Masses." Molecular and formula masses; the mole; molar mass
[A&E] 3.2, "Determining Empirical and Molecular Formulas." Calculating mass percentages; determining the empirical formula of penicillin; combustion analysis; from empirical formula to molecular formula
[A&E] 3.3, "Chemical Equations." Interpreting chemical equations; balancing simple chemical equations
[A&E] 3.4, "Mass Relationships in Chemical Equations." Stoichiometry problems; limiting reactants; percent yields
[A&E] 7.1, "The History of the Periodic Table." (only read until "Mendeleev's Periodic Table") Arrangements of elements before Mendeleev

Lecture Video

Flash and JavaScript are required for this feature.

Download this video:
» iTunes U (MP4 - 208MB)
» Internet Archive (MP4 - 208MB)



Lecture Slides (PDF - 6.0MB)

Periodic Table and Table of Constants

Transcript (PDF)

Lecture Summary

This lecture continues the discussion about origins of the periodic table, picking up with Dmitri Mendeleev’s discovery of periodic patterns among different groups of elements. At the high end of the periodic table are the superheavy elements; Prof. Sadoway discusses naming conventions and how these elements are discovered.

Elements are characterized by a range of properties. Starting with the fundamental structure of the atom and characteristics of the electron, proton, and neutron, Prof. Sadoway defines key terms such as:

  • atomic mass, proton number, neutron number, and isotopes
  • ion, cation, and anion
  • mole, Avogadro’s number, Faraday’s constant, elementary charge, and atomic mass unit

The lecture includes a description of Robert Millikan’s oil drop experiment (1909), which measured the value of the elementary charge.

A chemical reaction can be described by an equation based on conservation of mass and Dalton’s law of molar proportions. Using the example of the Kroll process for producing titanium metal, Prof. Sadoway demonstrates how to write a balanced equation, employing stoichiometry to determine how much metal is produced from a given amount of reactants.

The lecture ends with a brief biographical sketch of composer and chemistry professor Alexander Borodin, a contemporary of Mendeleev.


Problems (PDF)

Solutions (PDF)

Textbook Problems

[A&E] Sections Conceptual Numerical
[A&E] 1.6, "Isotopes and Atomic Masses." 3, 5, 7 2, 5, 6, 14
[A&E] 3.3, "Chemical Equations." none 2
[A&E] 3.4, "Mass Relationships in Chemical Equations." none 12, 25

For Further Study

Textbook Study Materials

See the [A&E] companion website from Pearson for PowerPoint outlines of each chapter, plus online quizzes, interactive graphs and 3D molecular animations:

Supplemental Readings

Amazon logo Emsley, J. The Elements. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780198558187.

Amazon logo Weeks, M. E. Discovery of the Elements. Madison, WI: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968.

Amazon logo Seaborg, Glenn T., and E.G. Valens. Elements of the Universe. New York, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1958. ISBN: 9789999238939.

Amazon logo Strathern, P. Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest for the Elements. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780140284140.

Amazon logo Gordin, M. A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table. New York, NY: 2004. ISBN: 9780465027750.

Amazon logo Mendeleyev, Dmitri. The Principles of Chemistry. New York, NY: Longmans Green and Co., 1897.

Amazon logo Dalton, John. A New System of Chemical Philosophy. New York, NY: Philosophical Library, 1964.

Amazon logo Cardwell, D. John Dalton and the Progress of Science. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble, 1968.

Amazon logo Kargon, Robert H. The Rise of Robert Millikan: Portrait of a Life in American Science. New York, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780801414596.

Amazon logo Millikan, Robert A. Electrons, Protons, Photons, Neutrons, Mesotrons, and Cosmic Rays. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1947.

How Atoms Work

How the Periodic Table Works


John Dalton

Jöns Berzelius

Amedeo Avogadro

Michael Faraday

Robert Millikan - 1923 Nobel Prize in Physics



Dmitri Mendeleev

Alexander Borodin

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb

William Thomson, Lord Kelvin


Borodin, Alexander P. "Polovtsian Dances." Prince Igor. Available as Amazon logo Ballet Music from Operas. Performed by New York Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. New York, NY: Sony, 1993.

Amazon logo Lehrer, T. The Remains of Tom Lehrer. Los Angeles, CA: Warner Archives/Rhino, 2000.

Other OCW and OER Content

Content Provider Level Notes
5.111 Principles of Chemical Science MIT OpenCourseWare Undergraduate (first-year)

Lecture 2: Discovery of Electron and Nucleus

Lecture 9: Periodic Trends

Lecture 10: Covalent Bonds

Stoichiometry Tutorial ChemCollective, CMU Open Learning Initiative High school  
Atoms and Elements, The Periodic Table HyperPhysics: Chemistry High school  


« Previous | Next »