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Why are noble metals like gold low in the reactivity series?

Noble metals like gold are low in the reactivity series because they have a stable electron configuration that resists oxidation.

Noble metals, including gold, silver, and platinum, are found towards the bottom of the reactivity series. This is due to their unique electron configuration. These metals have a full or nearly full outer electron shell, making them stable and less likely to participate in chemical reactions. This stability is what makes them 'noble' or unreactive.

The reactivity series, also known as the activity series, is a list of metals arranged in order of their reactivity, from most reactive to least reactive. The reactivity of a metal is determined by its ability to lose electrons and form positive ions. Metals at the top of the series, such as potassium and sodium, are highly reactive because they readily lose electrons. On the other hand, noble metals at the bottom of the series are less likely to lose electrons and form positive ions, making them less reactive.

Gold, for instance, has a full d orbital and a half-filled s orbital in its outermost electron shell. This configuration is very stable and requires a lot of energy to disrupt, making gold highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion. This is why gold can be found in its native, uncombined form in nature, and why it doesn't tarnish or corrode over time.

In summary, the low reactivity of noble metals like gold is due to their stable electron configuration, which resists oxidation and other chemical reactions. This makes them less likely to lose electrons and form positive ions, placing them at the bottom of the reactivity series.

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