What do you understand by (a) inert pair effect (b) allotropy and (c) catenation?
(a) Inert pair effect As one moves down the group, the tendency of s-block electrons to participate in chemical bonding decreases. This effect is known as inert pair effect. In case of group 13 elements, the electronic configuration is and their group valency is +3. However, on moving down the group, the +1 oxidation state becomes more stable. This happens because of the poor shielding of the electrons by the d- and f- electrons. As a result of the poor shielding, the electrons are held tightly by the nucleus and so, they cannot participate in chemical bonding.
(b) Allotropy Allotropy is the existence of an element in more than one form, having the same chemical properties but different physical properties. The various forms of an element are called allotropes. For example, carbon exists in three allotropic forms: diamond, graphite, and fullerenes.
(c) Catenation The atoms of some elements (such as carbon) can link with one another through strong covalent bonds to form long chains or branches. This property is known as catenation. It is most common in carbon and quite significant in Si and S.