What is Electron orbitals: Definition and 33 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.

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  1. nomadreid

    Selection rules in electron transitions

    Not sure if this belongs in Chemistry or Physics. Even less sure if I understand the selection rules for electron transition correctly; hence this question. So I would be grateful for someone to please correct the following: Letting n and m be energy levels An electron that absorbs a photon...
  2. LUFER

    Wavefunction Equations Of Hybridized Orbitals

    Hi, I'm looking for the equations to perform the wave function of the orbitals, that way I can give a graph. The problem I only encounter situations in basic energy transfer (valence).Task: Make wavefunctions of the sp2, sp3, sd3 hybridized orbitals respectively. I need the wavefunction...
  3. AdvaitDhingra

    B Does the energy of an electron vary in the sublevels?

    So I read that Bohr's atom has discrete energy levels that an Electron can orbit at and that each level has n amount of sublevels (if n = 2 then there are 2 sublevels). Does the sublevel that the Electron is in have to do with it's mass? Does an electron in energy level l and sublevel d have...
  4. J

    I Do electron orbitals ever change?

    1. Do electron orbitals ever change in _shape_? Specifically, does a solid have the same orbital shapes as a liquid? 2. Are there any factors that would change the _size_ of electron orbitals?
  5. I

    First ionization energy of group 1 and group 2 elements

    The first ionization energy decreases between group 5 and group 6 due to the repulsion between the electrons in the p orbital. Although I understand that the effective nuclear charge increases between group 1 and group 2 elements, why isn't this the case between group 1 and group 2 elements...
  6. D

    I Trying to understand electron orbitals

    I'm having trouble understanding this process. The electron is absorbing the photon and has a changed orbital corresponding exactly to the photons energy. During the absorption the electron "jumps" energy levels, Is this process instantaneous? What are the equations that describe dynamics of...
  7. Vectronix

    B Do atomic nuclei transfer momentum to electron orbitals?

    Do protons' inherent gyroscopic nature produce progressive ripples in the electromagnetic field? If so, then is there an ensemble of transverse electromagnetic undulations arising from the proton's angular momentum that contribute to electronic orbital energy in, say, a hydrogen atom? If these...
  8. Poliona

    Understanding the Hard Sphere Model of Crystallography

    I am currently studying C Hammond's "Basics of Crystallography and Diffraction" (third ed.). In the first chapter ,concerning hard sphere model, I have found the following statement: There are, in fact, no examples of elements with this structure because, as the model building shows,the atoms...
  9. Arubi Bushlee

    B How Do Electron Orbitals Work at Relativistic Speeds?

    So I was wondering... for no particular reason: Say you have a proton and your right arm is a particle accelerator. You throw the proton at about 90% the speed o' light. The you take your left arm which also happens to be a particle accelerator and you shoot an electron out right next to it...
  10. H

    Are Electron Orbitals Always Spherical in Shape?

    The probability distribution of the position of the electron of a hydrogen atom is related to the following polar plots Suppose the electron is excited from the ##1s## orbital to the ##2p_x## orbital. Does it make sense to talk about the ##2p_x## orbital having a dumbbell shape pointing in...
  11. Ryan Reed

    Are Electron Orbitals Static or Dynamic?

    Do the orbitals of electrons change positions within their energy level relative to the nucleus or are they statically "attached" to the nucleus? To try and put this into perspective, would the orbitals of the electrons be like nailing a balloon(orbital) straight to the ball(nucleus) or nailing...
  12. Dong Aleta

    Electron Configuration of Filled Valence Electron Orbitals

    Hi! I have understood how elements such as Be and Ca, with fully filled 2s orbitals, are not to be considered "noble" because they still have unfilled p orbitals. But I'm having trouble understanding how these elements participate in chemical reactions without having any unpaired electrons. My...
  13. Misha Kuznetsov

    Electron Orbitals: Learn about Shapes & Charges

    Hello, At first, I wasn't sure why p-orbitals are shaped as they are. I looked through the posts of others here and it makes some sense now. My understanding is that they are dumbbell shaped because electrons repel from each other and are attracted by the nucleus. Then why is an s-orbital...
  14. R

    Electron Orbitals: Determining Energy Differences Between Orbitals

    Are the energy differences between orbitals the same for all of the elements? If not How do you determine the energy differences between orbitals?
  15. K

    Why are there fixed electron orbitals?

    I'm not sure if this question even has an answer, but I've been studying the interaction of photons with electrons in atoms and a lot of other things and the underlying thing I don't understand is why electron orbitals exist in specific shapes (probably delves into quantum mechanics). For...
  16. J

    Electron orbitals of iron and copper

    I was reading an article about the electron orbitals of iron and copper: The electronic configuration of iron is 1s 2, 2s 2, 2p 6, 3s 2, 3p 6, 4s 2, 3d 6 And that of copper is 1s 2, 2s 2, 2p 6, 3s 2, 3p 6, 4s 1, 3d 10 Iron has an incompletely filled d orbital while copper has a full...
  17. I

    L Science - Understanding Electron Orbitals and Their Role in Atomic Structure

    Hey all, Why do electron orbitals exist? That is to say, why do electrons in essence move away from the proton (potential) instead of attempting to get closer to the proton? Feel free to throw out some quark and nuclear physics...haven't had qed yet. IR
  18. B

    Images of electron orbitals for H2, He, Li and Li2?

    Is there some resource on the net where I can find images of electron orbitals for dihydrogen (H2), helium (He), lithium (Li) and dilithium (Li2)? Alternatively if there is some software that can produce such images, that would be good too.
  19. D

    What are single electron orbitals?

    1. "i.e an electron is removed from one of the single electron orbitals into the vacuum." I know what orbitals are but I don't know what constitutes single-electron orbitals. I first assumed it was simply an orbital which in a given configuration only had one electron but that had to be ruled...
  20. tiny-tim

    Classifying electron orbitals by nodes

    (is this correct … ?) electrons "orbiting" a single atom obey the Schrodinger equation, whose solutions are linear combinations of an orthogonal basis of solutions of the form R(r)Θ(θ)Φ(φ) where r θ and φ are the usual spherical coordinates: θ = 0 is the usual z axis these "orbitals"...
  21. S

    Still a bit confused about electron orbitals?

    Hey Everyone, If you have an electron with the various energy levels: -14 eV, -30 eV, -52 eV, -80 eV. And that the electron can only move between these levels. How do I go about finding the photo energy that is emitted? Do I just subtract the various levels? Ex. 14 - 30 = -16 etc?
  22. H

    Question on electron orbitals?

    Homework Statement What are the two possible electron orbital configurations of W+6, Au+, and Au+3. Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution I know Tungsten should initially be [Xe]6s2 4f14 5d4 and Gold should initially be [Xe]6s1 4f14 5d10. From what I remember of intro...
  23. N

    Understanding Electron Orbitals: The Role of Photons in Orbital Changes

    I've haven't taken a chemistry course as of yet, so I'm probably getting something very wrong here, but one thing that someone said confused me. They said that when an electron changes it's orbital, it emits a photon. I like to think about orbitals (and I know that this is ONLY a useful...
  24. D

    How can I deform electron orbitals?

    It's my understanding that electron orbitals arise from the steady state solution to the Schrodinger equation. In what ways can these be deformed? Some possible solutions might be oscillating or metastable dynamic solutions. Other solutions include varying electron mass (I understand a purist...
  25. O

    Electron Orbitals motion patterns

    I am wondering how is it that the electrons go from one elctron shell to another because I learned that the shells only meet in the nucleus of the element so how is it possible for it to change shells without becoming a nuetralized charge?
  26. B

    Electron Orbitals: Heat, Excitation and Radiation

    What do they have to do with heat? What exactly can cause and electron to become exited and what exactly does the particle it comes in contact with do that causes the electron to become ''exited''? The higher the orbitals and electron spins, the shorter the wavelengths of the radiation it emits...
  27. R

    Virtual photons and electron orbitals

    hi, when an electron stays in the same electronic orbitals with principal quantum number n, with a constant energy and momentum, are there still virtuals photons that are permanently exchanged between this electron and the nucleus? I believe that the electromagnetic field is equivalent...
  28. C

    Resolution of electron orbitals

    Hi, I have developed a model that demonstrates the filling of atomic orbitals but need some 'constructive' criticism on its content. How do I go about that? I currently have it in a pdf format. Can anyone help?
  29. C

    Exploring the Zeeman Effect on Electron Orbitals

    If electrons orbit an atom in discrete energy levels like n= 1 , 2, 3 ... and they never orbit in between the ground state and the first excited state . then why should a magnetic field break this rule and push the electron a little bit so when it relaxes back down it emits a longer...
  30. A

    Question on electron orbitals and wavelengths?

    Question on electron orbitals and wavelengths?? Hi I have a couple of dumb laymans questions: (1) I have seen various diagrams of electron shells where some of them appear as ,roughly , rotating figure eights. Is there any physical conceptual interpretation of this? It would...
  31. L

    Questions on Electron Orbitals, Wave Packets, and Coherent States

    I'm trying to interpret a research paper on single photon ionization using extreme UV attosecond laser pulses, and I realized I have some very basic questions concerning electrons in an atom. Technically, the answers to these questions are found online and in the literature, but the wording...
  32. K

    Program for painting electron orbitals

    Ok, what I need is the following: - program that can draw orbital - it must be free (not to buy) (no copy right, ...) I didn't find one that is free and has a nice graphic.
  33. H

    What Force Causes Electron Orbitals?

    which force separates the electrons and nucleus and causes the electrons to orbit? a friend told me that the size of the electron means that the nuclei cannot absorb it, but i am still confused and not sure if he knew what i meant in my question.