Materials in Today's World



Electronic configuration for elements and the interatomic bonding between atoms and molecules determine some of the important properties of solid materials, including a correlation between bonding type and material classification—namely, ionic bonding (ceramics), covalent bonding (polymers), metallic bonding (metals), and van der Waals bonding (molecular solids). In this lesson, we will review briefly atomic structure, electron configurations in atoms, the periodic table, and atomic and interatomic bonding. These fundamental and important concepts will be applied to the understanding of solid materials in this and subsequent lessons of this course.

We will see in later lessons that important properties of solid materials depend on the way in which the atoms are arranged. In this lesson, we will consider some fundamental and important concepts about how the atoms are held together that compose a solid. These concepts: atomic structure, electron configuration, the periodic table, and the various types of primary and secondary interatomic bonds, are discussed with the assumption that the student has already encountered this material in a high school chemistry course. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe and compare the Bohr and wave mechanical atomic models.
  • Describe the important quantum-mechanical principle that relates to electron energies.
  • Recognize the effect of the Pauli exclusion principle on atomic structure.
  • Produce the electronic configuration for the ground state of a given element and any ions.
  • Identify the locations of metallic, non-metallic, and intermediate elements on the periodic table.
  • Describe the general rule for electronegativity on the periodic table.
  • Contrast the behavior of valence electrons for electropositive with the valence electrons of electronegative elements.
  • Briefly describe ionic, covalent, metallic, hydrogen, and van der Waals bonds.
  • Find examples of materials with the following bond types; ionic, covalent, metallic, hydrogen, and van der Waals bonds.
  • Briefly explain the fact that water expands upon freezing to ice from its liquid phase.

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson 3 will take us 1 week to complete. Please refer to Canvas for specific due dates.

Lesson Roadmap
To Read

Pages 36 to 64 (Chapter 3) of Materials for Today's World, Custom Edition for Penn State University (custom e-book)

Reading on course website for Lesson 3

To Watch Chapters from Hunting the Elements, TED-Ed talks on Atoms and Periodic Table
To Do Lesson 3 Quiz


If you have general questions about the course content or structure, please post them to the General Questions and Discussion forum in Canvas. If your question is of a more personal nature, feel free to send a message to the instructor through Canvas email. The instructor will check daily to respond.