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Group 4A

There are currently 118 total elements (though we may discover more!) Because of this, we use the periodic table to sort them all into different rows and columns. Each column, called a "group" contains elements with similar characteristics/properties.

In this article, we will be looking at group 4A and learning all about the different and wonderful elements contained within it!

  • This article covers the group 4A elements.
  • First, we will learn about the different elements in group 4A and learn where to locate the group on the periodic table.
  • Next, we will learn about the general trends and properties of the group.
  • Then, we will cover the nonmetal of the group.
  • Thereafter, we will look at the semimetals/metalloids of the group.
  • Lastly, we will cover the group's metals.

Elements of Group 4A

Let's begin by looking what what group 4A elements are.

Group 4A elements are the elements in the 14th column of the periodic table.

The group 4A elements are the 4th column across when you ignore the transition metals. They are also called the "carbon family" since carbon is the first of these elements.

Below is where these elements can be found on the periodic table:

Group 4A Group 4A on the periodic table StudySmarterFig.1- Periodic table with group 4A marked

The elements in Group 4A are:

  • Carbon (C)-Element 6
  • Silicon (Si)-Element 14
  • Germanium (Ge)-Element 32
  • Tin (Sn)-Element 50
  • Lead (Pb)-Element 82

There is another element called flerovium (Fl). It is a man-made element that is highly radioactive. While its properties and reactivity have been studied, the findings are not fully conclusive, which is why we won't be discussing it much.

Group 4A Properties

Group 4A contains elements of all three types: non-metal, metalloid/semimetal, and metal. Because of this, we will be dividing our discussion into sections. However, we are first going to talk about some general properties of group 4A elements.

1. Electron configuration and oxidation state

  • All the group 4A elements have the same general electron configuration for their 4 valence electrons: ns2np2.

  • Because of this, they all have the common oxidation state of +4 (lose 4 electrons). However, both tin and lead can have +2 oxidation states, where they lose their p-electrons.

Electron configuration shows how electrons are arranged

Valence electrons are the outermost electrons. They are responsible for bonding

An element's Oxidation state is the number of electrons lost (+n) or gained (-n) during bonding

2. Boiling points

  • The boiling points of each element decrease as you down group 4A.

3. Atomic radius

  • The atomic radius is the distance between the center of the nucleus and the outermost electron(s).

  • As you move down group 4A, the atomic radius increases.

4. Ionization energy (energy it takes to remove one electron)

  • As you move down group 4A, ionization energy decreases. However, lead's ionization energy is slightly larger than tin's

5. Electron affinity

  • Electron affinity decreases as you move down the 4A group.

Electron affinity is the change in energy when an electron is absorbed; the stronger the attraction, the more energy is released

5. Reactions with hydrogen

  • All group 4A elements react with hydrogen. They generally have the form EH4, where "E" is a group 4A element.

6. Reactions with Oxygen

  • All group 4A elements react with oxygen. They all have the general for EO2. Both lead and carbon can also form EO compounds.

7. Reactions with Group 17 elements (Halogens)

  • All group 4A elements will react with the group 17 elements (F, Cl, Br, etc.). The elements form EX4 compounds, where "X" is one of the halogens.

Nonmetal in Group 4A

Carbon is the first of the group 4A elements and is the only nonmetal of the group.

Carbon is an incredibly important element. So much so that there is an entire branch of chemistry dedicated to it called organic chemistry. Carbon is the 4th most abundant element and is an essential element for life.

Since it is a non-metal, it mostly forms covalent bonds. Which are bonds where electrons are shared between elements instead of transferred from one to the other (i.e. ionic bonds). Carbon can come in many forms, such as graphite and diamond, as shown below.

Group 4A Carbon forms StudySmarterFig.2-Carbon as graphite (left) and diamond (right)

It also commonly forms compounds containing hydrogen (H₂), nitrogen (N2), and oxygen (O2).

Due to its many forms and compounds, carbon has a plethora of uses, such as:

  • Steel making
  • Pencils (graphite)
  • Jewelry (diamond)
  • Plastic materials
  • Strong fibers

Semimetals in Group 4A

There are two metalloids/semimetals in group 4A. These are silicon and germanium.

Silicon is a grayish element with a metallic shine (seen below)

Group 4A Purified Silicon StudySmarterFig.3-A piece of purified silicon (Public Domain).

Germanium looks very similar, as it is also a grayish solid with a metallic sheen.

Group 4A Germanium Sample StudySmarterFig.4-A sample of crystalline germanium

Since they are metalloids, they tend to form covalent bond like carbon.

Both elements are commonly used as semiconductors, which act as intermediates between conductors and insulators. Because of this, they are often used in computers.

They both also react with hydrogen (H₂) and nitrogen (N2). Both elements can form several different hydrides (hydrogen compounds), with two of the most common being GH2 and G2H4 where "G" is silicon or germanium. As for the nitrogen compounds, they both can form nitrides with the formula G3N4.

Metals in Group 4A

Lastly, we have our metals: tin and lead Tin and lead are both soft, malleable, metals.

Tin is silvery-white:

Group 4A Sample of Tin StudySmarter Fig.5-Sample of tin (Public Domain)

However, tin is gray with a bluish tint:

Group 4A Lead cube StudySmarterFig.6-Lead cube (Public domain)

Because of their metallic nature, they form ionic bonds.

They both commonly react with hydrogen and halogens (group 17). Since they have oxidation states of +2 and +4, they can form either MH2 and MH4 for hydrogen compounds (where M is tin or lead) and either MX2 or MX4 for halide compounds (where X is a halogen).

In addition, they also react with oxygen to form either MO or MO2, depending on the oxidation state.

Tin is mainly used in alloys, which are mixtures of metals. Such alloys include bronze (95% copper and 5% tin) and dental plating (60% silver, 27% tin, and 13% copper).

Lead's applications have been largely phased out. Lead is poisonous, and it can accumulate in the body over time, causing many health problems such as anemia (lack of red blood cells) and infertility. Previously, it had been used in items such as paints, pencils, and batteries.

Group 4A - Key takeaways

  • Group 4A elements are the elements in the 14th column of the periodic table.
  • Group 4A elements have 4 valence electrons
  • All the group 4A elements have the same general electron configuration for their valence electrons: ns2np2
    • Because of this, they all have the common oxidation state of +4 (lose 4 electrons). However, both tin and lead can have +2 oxidation states, where they lose their p-electrons.
  • The boiling point decreases as you go down the group, while the atomic radius increases
  • Carbon, silicon, and germanium tend to form covalent bonds, while tin and lead form ionic bonds
  • All group 4A elements react with hydrogen, oxygen, and the halogens

References

  1. Fig.2-Carbon as graphite (left) and diamond (right) (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/Graphite-and-diamond-with-scale.jpg/640px-Graphite-and-diamond-with-scale.jpg) by Robert M. Lavinsky (https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q56247090) licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
  2. Fig.4-A sample of crystalline germanium (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/08/Polycrystalline-germanium.jpg/640px-Polycrystalline-germanium.jpg) by Jurii (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jurii) licensed by CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Frequently Asked Questions about Group 4A

Group 4A is also called group 14 or the carbon family.

Group 4A has the common oxidation state of +4

Group 4A is the 4th column in the periodic table if you skip the transition metals.

Group 4A elements contain a non-metal, metalloids, and metals. They are all crystalline solids that are grayish (except for carbon, which can be a power or solid that is black or clear).


They have the common oxidation state of +4 and their valence electrons have the general configuration of ns2np2.

  • The boiling points decrease down the group
  • The atomic radius increases down the group
  • All group 4A elements react with oxygen. Except for lead, they all have the general for EO2, where "E" is a group 4A element. Both lead and carbon can also form EO compounds.
  • All group 4A elements will react with the group 17 elements (F, Cl, Br, etc.). Except for lead, which forms PbX2, the elements form EX4 compounds, where "X" is one of the halogens.

Final Group 4A Quiz

Question

Where is group 4A located on the periodic table?

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Answer

14th column

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Question

What are the group 4A elements?

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Answer

  • Carbon (C)-Element 6
  • Silicon (Si)-Element 14
  • Germanium (Ge)-Element 32
  • Tin (Sn)-Element 50
  • Lead (Pb)-Element 82

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Question

How many valence electrons do each group 4A element have?

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Answer

4

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Question

What is the general electron configuration for group 4A's valence electrons?

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Answer

ns2np2

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Question

What is the common oxidation state for all group 4A elements?

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Answer

+4

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Question

True or False: Group 4A elements tend to gain electrons

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Answer

False

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Question

True or False: Lead and tin can have +4 and +2 oxidation states

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Answer

True

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Question

True or False: Boiling points increase as you go down the group

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Answer

False

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Question

True or False: Atomic radius increases as you go down the group

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Answer

True

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Question

Carbon, silicon, and germanium tend to form ___ bonds, while tin and lead form __ bonds

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Answer

Covalent, ionic

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Question

Group 4A does NOT react with which of the following elements/groups

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Answer

Group 2 (Alkali earth metals)

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Question

Which elements in group 4A are metalloids/semimetals?

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Answer

Silicon

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Question

What are silicon and germanium commonly used for?

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Answer

semiconductors

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Question

Why isn't lead used as much anymore?

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Answer

It is poisonous

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Question

Which Group 4A elements has an entire chemistry branch dedicated to it?

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Answer

Carbon

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Question

True or False: Ionization decreases as you move down the group

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Answer

True

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