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In modern IUPAC notation, it is called Group 15. In the old IUPAC and CAS systems, it was called Group VB and Group VA, respectively (pronounced "group five B" and "group five A", because "V" is a Roman numeral). In the field of semiconductor physics, it is still universally called Group V. It is also collectively named the pnictogens. The "five" ("V") in the historical names comes from the fact that these elements have five valence electrons (see below).
Like other groups, the members of this family show patterns in its electron configuration, especially the outermost shells resulting in trends in chemical behavior:
This group has the defining characteristic that all the component elements have 5 electrons in their outermost shell, that is 2 electrons in the s subshell and 3 unpaired electrons in the p subshell. They are therefore 3 electrons short of filling their outermost electron shell in their non-ionized state. The most important element of this group is nitrogen (chemical symbol N), which in its diatomic form is the principal component of air.
Binary compounds of the group can be referred to collectively as pnictides. The spelling derives from the Greek πνίγειν (pnigein), to choke or stifle, which is a property of nitrogen; they are also mnemonic for the two most common members, P and N. The name pentels (from the Latin penta, five) was also used for this group at one time, stemming from the earlier group naming convention (Group VB).
The nitrogen group consists of two non-metals, two metalloids, one metal, and one synthetic (presumably metallic) element. All the elements in the group are a solid at room temperature except for Nitrogen which is a gas at room temperature. Nitrogen and bismuth, despite both being part of the nitrogen group, are very different in their physical properties. For example, at STP nitrogen is a transparent nonmetallic gas, while bismuth is a brittle pinkish metallic solid.
* oxypnictide includes superconductors discovered in 2008
1. ^ Fluck, E. New notations in the periodic table. Pure & App. Chem. 1988, 60, 431-436.