Why are noble gases unreactive
What Are Noble Gases?
Noble gases are six monoatomic, gaseous elements found in nature that share similar chemical properties. The reason as to why these elements are called noble is because these are colorless, odorless, tasteless, unreactive and non-flammable under normal conditions. The six noble elements that are found in nature are helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon (radioactive). Even though they are unreactive by nature, they do serve other purposes which range from filling hot air balloons and welding metal, to helping with space programs.
Why Are They Unreactive?
The answer to the question as to why are noble gases unreactive lies with understanding of the atomic structures of these gaseous elements. According to the current theory of the atomic structure, each element has a central nucleus and the electrons within it circle the nucleus continuously in an orbit. There can be more than just one shell or orbit of electrons, but the outermost shell of electrons is always called the valence shell. Now, this valence shell is largely responsible for a particular element’s reactiveness as its reactivity is directly related to the number of electrons in its atom’s valence shell.
The next thing to consider is the atom’s tendency or behavior in relation to the number of electrons in its outermost shell. An atom of an element will be actively reacting with other atoms if its valence shell is not filled to capacity with electrons, in order to attain the missing electrons from the other atoms. On the other hand, if an atom has too less a number of electrons in its valence shell, then it will try to get rid of the few electrons in order to attain stability. As one can possibly guess now, all the noble gases have a balanced, filled to capacity outer ring of electrons (8), which invalidates the need to react with other atoms to begin with.
At this point of time, it is hard to create compounds from noble gases and the number of compounds made is not that great in number. Compared to the others, xenon, radon and krypton are easier to utilize in chemical reactions because the electromagnetic bonds within their atoms are weaker than among the atoms of the other three noble gases. In general, noble gases do not have a powerful interatomic force and that is the reason as to why they have such low melting and boiling points.