What is Atomic orbitals: Definition and 39 Discussions

In atomic theory and quantum mechanics, an atomic orbital is a mathematical function describing the location and wave-like behavior of an electron in an atom. This function can be used to calculate the probability of finding any electron of an atom in any specific region around the atom's nucleus. The term atomic orbital may also refer to the physical region or space where the electron can be calculated to be present, as predicted by the particular mathematical form of the orbital.Each orbital in an atom is characterized by a unique set of values of the three quantum numbers n, ℓ, and ml, which respectively correspond to the electron's energy, angular momentum, and an angular momentum vector component (the magnetic quantum number). Each such orbital can be occupied by a maximum of two electrons, each with its own projection of spin



{\displaystyle m_{s}}
. The simple names s orbital, p orbital, d orbital, and f orbital refer to orbitals with angular momentum quantum number ℓ = 0, 1, 2, and 3 respectively. These names, together with the value of n, are used to describe the electron configurations of atoms. They are derived from the description by early spectroscopists of certain series of alkali metal spectroscopic lines as sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental. Orbitals for ℓ > 3 continue alphabetically, omitting j (g, h, i, k, ...) because some languages do not distinguish between the letters "i" and "j".Atomic orbitals are the basic building blocks of the atomic orbital model (alternatively known as the electron cloud or wave mechanics model), a modern framework for visualizing the submicroscopic behavior of electrons in matter. In this model the electron cloud of a multi-electron atom may be seen as being built up (in approximation) in an electron configuration that is a product of simpler hydrogen-like atomic orbitals. The repeating periodicity of the blocks of 2, 6, 10, and 14 elements within sections of the periodic table arises naturally from the total number of electrons that occupy a complete set of s, p, d, and f atomic orbitals, respectively, although for higher values of the quantum number n, particularly when the atom in question bears a positive charge, the energies of certain sub-shells become very similar and so the order in which they are said to be populated by electrons (e.g. Cr = [Ar]4s13d5 and Cr2+ = [Ar]3d4) can only be rationalized somewhat arbitrarily.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. Tymothee Waldner

    I Schrödinger wave function: How to use it to get 3-D atomic orbitals?

    Hi, I am 16 year old and I am very interested in Physics. This summer I solved Schrödinger equation using griffiths' introduction to quantum physics and other sources. I achieved to get an exact solution of the wave function but I would like to plot it in a programm in order to get the 3d...
  2. H

    I Is it possible for non-spherical atomic orbitals to have spherical symmetry?

    Oritals, other than s-orbitals, don't have spherical symmetry while the atomic Hamiltonian does have spherical symmetry. How is this possible?
  3. A

    I Linear combinations of atomic orbitals

    So I've been looking at covalent bonds and come across the approx you can do of the molecular orbital for ##H^+_2## by just summing two 1s orbitals, the method is called the linear combinations of atomic orbitals, and you get what is below which I believe is exact in this case since the 1s...
  4. J

    Can we have a proton and an antiproton in the 1^S_0 atomic orbital

    I have a belief from something I read on the internet that the superscript 1 means that this is a singlet state so it can only hold one particle but then say 3^S_0 is a triplet so it could hold three. Then the first state I mentioned couldn't have a particle and an antiparticle in it , but the...
  5. J

    Initial states ppbar can proceed to npi^0 with parity conserved

    I'm working on some stuff for particle physics and I had a few questions I wanted to ask . Heres the outline of the problem : Establish which initial states of the ppbar system amongst 1^S_0, 3^S_1, 1^P_1, 3^P_0, 3^P_1, 3^P_2, 1^D_2, 3^D_1, 3^D_2, 3^D_3 the reaction ppbar->npi^0 can...
  6. Sophrosyne

    B Why is an electric arc needed for spectroscopy of clear gases?

    To obtain spectroscopy on a gas like hydrogen or helium, an electric arc is passed through a container of the material, and then the emitted light is viewed through a prism which breaks it up into its component wavelengths. There are sharp lines which are formed, caused by excitation of the...
  7. Z

    I Heat energy: statistical mechanics vs atomic orbitals

    Normally, I prefer to do my own research, but I'm drawing a blank on this one. Any help would be appreciated. My understanding is that statistical mechanics accounts for all of the heat energy in a gas by the kinetic energy of the molecules. I also understand that atomic orbitals have different...
  8. P

    I Atomic orbitals: change during excitation?

    Sorry if this question has been asked before or is common knowledge. It seems to me that when one or more electrons in an atom is excited to a higher energy state, then the effective potential experienced by other electrons should be different from the potential in the ground state. Hence the...
  9. S

    Exploring How Electric/Magnetic Fields Affect Atomic Orbitals

    Does the shape of atomic orbital changes when exposed to electric or magnetic field?
  10. H

    A Atomic Orbitals and Symmetry

    The Hamiltonian of an atomic electron is spherically symmetric so we expect to have symmetric distribution of electrons around the nucleus. However, as an example, p-orbitals don't have spherical symmetry and p_x-orbitals imply that electrons may be found in the x-direction with higher...
  11. H

    Are Some Atomic Orbitals From a 4D Wave Function?

    "To visualize the standing waves (or orbitals) of electrons bound to a positively charged nucleus in three dimensions, we will need a four-dimensional plot of the wave function vs. x, y, and z." http://www.grandinetti.org/electron-orbital-shapes"The wavefunctions in the N=2 family are vectors in...
  12. S

    What do the atomic orbitals of Helium look like?

    Hi. I am wondering about this. I have been able to find many graphs showing what the atomic orbitals look like for hydrogen, but nothing for more complex atoms, like helium. Why is this? Now I know the Schrodinger equation for helium cannot be solved exactly, but you don't need an exact...
  13. L

    Eigenvalues of positions in atomic orbitals

    Let's take a hydrogen atom with a single electron. How many eigenvalues of position can it form (assuming you put it the atom in an x, y, z coordinate)? like 1 billion possible position eigenvalues? Is it continuous number like 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 or quantized? and either case, how many eigenvalues...
  14. A

    Are atomic orbitals electron standing waves?

    Do electrons really exist as standing waves in an atom? If so, are these standing waves what are known as atomic orbitals?
  15. K

    Energy of atomic orbitals in multielectron system

    although the distance from the nucleus and shielding effect [due to more angular volume] is more for 4s orbital than a 3d orbital ,but yet the energy for a 3d orbital is more than 4s orbital, why?
  16. S

    Software for atomic orbitals oveplap in molecules

    I would be most grateful for some tips of interactive software, which shows the hybridized atomic orbitals overlapping in the molecule (I don't mean resulting molecular orbitals but atomic orbitals of which overlapping forms MO). And does this works also in Mathematica?
  17. S

    MATLAB Plotting atomic orbitals on matlab

    Hi guys I've been having some trouble plotting the p(x) and d(xy) atomic orbitals on Matlab. I have been given that p(x) = x*e^-(x^2 + y^2 + z^2)^0.5 and d(xy) = x*y*e^-(x^2 + y^2 x^2)^0.5 Now I want to plot these orbitals on MATLAB using mesh or the surf command and then plot the...
  18. H

    Ochem - linear combination of atomic orbitals

    1. Homework Statement Draw an LCAO representation of all of the bonding orbitals for C2H2O. Be sure to clearly state the hybridization of the two carbons and the oxygen in addition to drawing the orbital representation. Also show clearly what orbital any unshared pairs occupy. 2...
  19. K

    Nuclear charge and atomic orbitals

    If I use hydrogen-like orbitals for other atoms, how are the number of nodes and probability density affected?
  20. S

    Convergence of Atomic Orbitals 2s and 2p with high Z number

    Hello all, this came up in my chemistry class when our prof. showed a graph of the size of atomic orbitals (or orbital energy) in relation to the Z number (or number of protons). He did this to show that as the z number increases the size of the orbitals also decrease (because effective nuclear...
  21. S

    What are the shapes of atomic orbitals

    I know that the shape of s orbital is sphere, p orbital is dumbbell shaped and d orbital is like a doughnut but why do these orbitals have these shapes why not some other shape.
  22. O

    Degeneracy of Hydrogen atomic orbitals with different l-values but same n-value

    I am terribly confused. I have always been hearing that in the hydrogen atom, 2s and 2p orbitals have the same energy. Similarly, the 3s, 3p and 3d orbitals have the same energies. This is also suggested by the hydrogen spectrum, my professor also believes the same, and I am unable to find...
  23. C

    What are the energy differences between the atomic orbitals of He and He+?

    Homework Statement Compare the energies of the 1s, 2s, 3s and 3p orbitals for both the HE and He+. For He assume that one electron is always in the 1s orbital. State any other assumptions you have made 2. The attempt at a solution I think: He can be either 1s1 2s1 or 1s2 He+ has to be...
  24. C

    How do atomic orbitals combine to form molecular orbitals?

    When 2 atoms bond, do all their atomic orbitals combine, or is it just the bonding orbitals that combine? For example when sodium and chlorine bond, do all their orbitals combine or is it just sodiums 3s orbital that combines with chlorines 3p orbital?
  25. A

    Visualising atomic orbitals in a unit cell (software for making figures?)

    So I usually use VESTA to make my figures, and though the new version is able to do many mad things with calculated electron density isostructures and whatnot, I can't seem to just be able to throw in some clover-leaf d or p orbitals like what was done in the image below (from this paper on...
  26. G

    Atomic Orbitals: Spherical vs. Non-Spherical

    atomic orbitals, what i just know about them is they are the regions around the nucleus where the probability of finding an electron is high and that is OK with s orbital because it is spherical. but when an electron in p orbital spins the probability of finding an electron should spin...
  27. M

    Hybridization of atomic orbitals

    Hi all, To my knowledge hybridization of atomc orbitals occurs only between orbitals in the same atom, with similar energies, in order to produce new atomic orbitals, identical with the same energy, to make chemical bonds with other atoms. There are sp, sp2, sp3, etc... possibilities. My...
  28. daisey

    Wave Properties of Electrons and their Atomic Orbitals

    I understand that electrons are found inside Atoms within specific orbitals, or quantized distances from the nucleus. There are a maximum number of electrons found within each orbit, etc. etc. I recently read that the reason for this quantized nature of orbitals has to do with the wave...
  29. Y

    Atomic Orbitals: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding

    Can someone please direct me to a site that explains atomic orbitales well. Thanks. :cool:
  30. H

    Constructing orthogonal orbitals from atomic orbitals

    Imagine there is a molecule which consists of several atoms, and for each atom there is an effective orbital, phi_i, which are not orthogonal. Now we want to construct from them a set of orthogonal orbitals, psi_i. Of course there are many ways to do this. Let W be the matrix that realizes our...
  31. P

    OCHEM - Linear Combination of Atomic Orbitals

    Homework Statement Draw an LCAO representation of all of the bonding orbitals for C2H2O. Be sure to clearly state the hybridization of the two carbons and the oxygen in addition to drawing the orbital representation. Also show clearly what orbital any unshared pairs occupy. Homework Equations...
  32. Z

    How Are Electrons Distributed Among Px, Py, and Pz Orbitals in Carbon?

    Hello I didn't get something about the AO. i.e the electron configuration of C is 1s² 2s² 2p² . So we know that at the 2nd shell this has 4 electrons, 2 in s orbital + 2 in the p, right? How do we find out how the 2 electrons of p are spread in the px, py, pz? Thank you, Panos
  33. M

    Atomic Orbitals | n=2, l=1, P Orbital, Magnetic Quantum No.

    for n=2 & l=1 we have P orbital for which magnetic quantum no. can take values -1,0,1 , now in p orbital we have 2Px, 2Py &2Pz each corresponding to vale of m like 2Px for m=-1 and so on , is this correct or 2Px can be represented by 0 0r 1 also .
  34. D

    Atomic Orbitals & Circular Membranes: Is There a Connection?

    Is there a particular reason why the probability density distribution function of atomic orbitals bears a similarity to the modes on a circular membrane? Is this just a coincidence? Is it not actually that similar?
  35. R

    Orthogonality in Basis Sets: Exploring the Overlap of Atomic Orbitals

    1: Why are the elements of a basis set taken to be orthogonal? But in real sense atomic orbitals do overlap.
  36. A

    Atomic Orbitals vs. Molecular Orbitals and Hybridization

    Hey everyone! I was wondering, when orbitals are hybridized, new hybrid Atomic Orbitals (AO) are formed. Now, when these hybrid atomic orbotals bond with another atomic orbitals, are molecular orbitals formed? For example, when 2 Hydrogens bond to form H2, the 1s orbitals overlap to form 2...
  37. N

    Where Can I Learn About Atomic Orbitals and the Pauli Exclusion Principle?

    I have searched some books I have on Quantum Physics, and so on, but I still haven't found any useable material to learn about the Pauli exclusion pinciple, atomic orbitals, why the Periodic Table exists, or things like that, in an informal way. Thanks, Neohaven
  38. D

    Linear Combination of Atomic Orbitals

    Is anybody familiar with LCAO approximation? I'm working on my last problem for this assignment and the class text doesn't really cover it enough for me nor do my reference texts cover it enough. Does anybody know any good references so I can read more on LCAO approximation? Thanks.