What is Orbitals: Definition and 245 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. S

    What is the Role of Energy in Quantum Hybridized Orbitals?

    Hello, I have a few questions about these images that I shared. 1) What does t represent? I am assuming Es is the energy of the atoms before they hybridize, and that t is either the gain or reduction of energy due to the new orbitals that are formed through bonding. Am I way off on this? 2)...
  2. J

    A LCAO graphene orbitals wave functions

    Hello, My name is Josip Jakovac, i am a student of the theoretical solid state physics phd studies. First I want to apologize if my question has already been answered somewhere here, I googled around a lot, and found nothing similar. My problem is that I need to apply TBA to Graphene. I went...
  3. Dario56

    I Electron Indistinguishability and Repulsion

    If we had a system of ##N## non – interacting electrons than a wavefunction of such a system is a product of one-electron wavefunctions otherwise known as a Hartree product: $$ \Psi(x_1,x_2,...,x_N) = \prod_{n=1}^N \psi(x_n) $$ This means that in such a hypothetical system , it is possible to...
  4. 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...
  5. G

    Stargazing Could Elon Musk's Starlink orbitals piggyback telescopes?

    Elon Musk's Starlink orbital internet communication system is presently seen as a detriment for observing the cosmos by ground observers, but have astronomers thought asking Elon Musk if he would consider mounting compact low-energy telescopes on the back of his orbitals, facing away from Earth...
  6. S

    I Orbitals and selection rules in a synchrotron

    What orbitals are occupied in a synchrotron, and which selection rules limit charged particles in a synchrotron? A Schrödinger hydrogen atom is not actually the Bohr atom, but the Bohr theory gives correct energies (but not transition probabilities). Why? Because in a hydrogen-like atom, 2s...
  7. G

    I How quickly do electrons jump orbitals?

    I would hope something like this would come in handy: ΔEΔt>h/2π. Mainly because it seems relatively simple, although I'm not really sure what the inequality really means, other than there is a certain uncertainty associated with that pair. But there are some things that really muddy the waters...
  8. Helena Wells

    Energy differences of molecular orbitals

    Suppose we have a molecule A-A and a molecule A-B . And we want to compare the differences in energy of the different molecular orbitals for example the 1s antibonding orbital with the 2s bonding orbital.How can we do that?
  9. 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?
  10. Rzbs

    I Why are the d and f orbitals in transition metals considered localized?

    Why d and f orbitals in transition metals considered localize? Is it an experimetal result that d and f orbitals are more near to nuclea than s orbital in transition metals or there is another reason for considering them localized in a solid?
  11. Sabertooth

    Expressing Elliptic Orbitals As Speed Functions.

    Hi everyone:) I have spend a couple of days trying to teach myself the math of orbital mechanics and have been able to generate a model of the orbital path of Haley's Comet, incorporating realistic distances and periods using Kepler's second law & ellipsoid functions. This is a GIF of the motion...
  12. 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?
  13. arivero

    I Orbits from Orbitals: Maximally Commuting Operators & Coherent States

    For a particle in a central potential, an orbital is the state determined by Energy, Angular Momentum, and Third Component of the Angular momentum, which constitute a maximal set of commuting operators, right? Even in classical mechanics, this is not an orbit... it would be a set of orbits...
  14. Frigus

    Why do antibonding orbitals have more energy than bonding orbitals?

    Suppose their are two electrons which are out of phase and they interact to create node due to which those electrons will be automatically present in anti bonding molecular orbital but we say antibonding molecular orbital have high energy...now there problem is that if their is no energy...
  15. sams

    Calculating the Molecular Orbitals of a Molecular State

    I am performing ab initio calculations on a heteronuclear diatomic compound using the MRCI method on the MOLPRO quantum chemistry package. I obtained the molecular states of the compound but I was wondering how to find the molecular orbital configuration of each electronic state in addition to...
  16. 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...
  17. C

    Molecular Orbits....what exactly is meant by orbitals having phase?

    Hello. I understand constructive/destructive interference for waves in general. But why do orbitals have phase? What is meant by phase for an orbital? What is the phase describing? Isn't the wave function describing where you are likely to locate the electron? Why is one positive and one...
  18. 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...
  19. S

    Do all transition metals have the n2 and (n-1)d orbitals?

    Does all transition metals have their n2 and ( n-1)d orbitals as valence electrons? I have been scouring the internet to the answer of this question but have mixed results. Iron has an electron configuration of: 1s2,2s2,2p6,3s2,3p6,4s2,3d6 Aparantly it has 8 valence electrons because 4s2 + 3d6 =...
  20. Sophrosyne

    B How to think of molecular orbitals quantum mechanically

    The electrons in a molecule are said to be in a quantum superposition state in terms of their position/spin/momentum. But when you look at a molecule like water at a chemical level, it has a very specific shape corresponding to the P orbitals of the outer shell of the Oxygen atom. The two...
  21. I

    How is the motion of an electron around nucleus?

    How electron revolves around orbitals? Is the velocity uniform or accelerated?
  22. C

    What Happens to Orbital and Spin Momentum of Free Electrons in Iron?

    Theory explains magnetism in iron as a combined effect of magnetic moments of electrons. Now, what is confusing me is that valence electrons in iron are supposed to be free. The valence band and conduction band overlap. So, what kind of orbital and spin-ular momentum do these free electrons...
  23. 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...
  24. G

    I Do Polarized Atoms Imply Shifted Electron Orbitals?

    When neutral atoms become polarized from ambient EM radiation, does this automatically imply that electrons have shifted orbitals,or do they remain in the same levels but become deformed? Thanks
  25. C

    The Factors affecting the Orbitals of a moon

    1. Pull of gravity on moon/mass. 2. Velocity of Moon 3.Mass of moon 4.Infuence of other nearby mass's gravity I believe there are many more factors that influences an orbital. Am I right?
  26. J

    B What is the relation between wavelength and orbital?

    I am in a chemistry class, and there was an in class example on how to do this type of problem, but then when I looked in the book, there wasn't an equation. the questions are related to what the wavelength will be when electrons are moving between orbitals.
  27. A

    Hybridization, Antibonding Orbitals and All that Jazz

    This going to be a long post ! Orbital Dilemma: i) Why there is opposite phase orbital for s-orbital? [ Couldn't find any representation on the web except for a pic in Ian Fleming's Molecular Orbitals and Organic Chemical Reactions,pg3) *I assert no right over the image,image is referenced...
  28. T

    Energy gap between orbitals and stability

    We know that the lower the energy gap between bonding and antibonding orbital the easier it is to break the bond making it unstable. However, in a conjugated double bond, the overlapping of wavefunctions cause the energy gap between the bonding and antibonding orbital go down. Then why...
  29. W

    I Electron wavefunction as an overlap of orbitals

    so I am finishing up my studies of intro to quantum mechanics, and this is not in my book and looking at previous exams i have to know this for single electron atoms/ions. one of the problems was somethin like "the wave function of an electron is the overlap of the orbitals: Ψ=aΨ1s+i/√3Ψ2p+¾Ψ3s...
  30. 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...
  31. 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...
  32. U

    Influence of Orbitals on the mass of the electron

    If Energy levels differ in accordance to the orbital, say like 2s and 3d orbitals, then shouldn't the mass of the electron then change to uphold E=mc^2? Or is there something I am missing?
  33. sams

    A Counting Radial Nodes between Orbitals with Same l

    Dear Everyone, Could anyone explain why we count only the number of radial nodes between the subshells that have the same orbital angular momentum l ? For example, 3p-orbitals have 1 radial node that exists between the 3p- and 2p-orbitals. Shouldn't be there additional radial nodes that exist...
  34. V

    Orbitals S P D F: Francium & 7s Orbital

    Homework Statement Just wondering where does a 7s orbital come into play? Would you use 7s when it comes to francium? Homework EquationsThe Attempt at a Solution
  35. S

    Exploring How Electric/Magnetic Fields Affect Atomic Orbitals

    Does the shape of atomic orbital changes when exposed to electric or magnetic field?
  36. 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...
  37. H

    I Why Is Crystal-Field Splitting Different for f-Orbitals Compared to d-Orbitals?

    There is several things I don't quite understand about crystal-field splitting. Q1: Why is crystal-field effect is not explained for f-orbitals like in d-orbitals in terms of real-orbitals? Correct me if I am wrong, but typically for d-orbitals, crystal-field splitting is explained classically...
  38. MarSuper

    Do Electrons have different mass when in different orbitals?

    I am wondering do electrons have different mass when they are in different orbitals? I know the energy levels are different so it seems like they must have more mass at the lower orbitals. Has anyone ever tried to measure the mass of electrons in different orbitals?
  39. C

    B Why is the noble gas configuration inert?

    Walther Kossel and Gilbert Lewis: "During the formation of a chemical bond, atoms combine together by gaining, losing or sharing electrons in such a way that they acquire nearest noble gas configuration." By what understanding I have so far, and do correct me if I'm wrong, atoms tend to attain...
  40. 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...
  41. Docscientist

    Understanding Quantum Numbers and Orbitals: Tips for Effective Learning

    In quantum mechanics,the facts about orbitals,sub shells and nodes are all confusing.I am not able to differentiate between them and I can't imagine them.This makes my whole process of learning about quantum numbers and filling up of orbitals very uncomfortable.Can somebody explain it to me so...
  42. T

    Radial Nodes of an Orbital: Probability of Electrons

    In a radial node of an orbital, say of 3px orbital, is the probablity for finding the 3px electron there is 0 but an electron of another orbital, say 2px, can be found there, OR the chance of finding electron of any orbital in a node of a certain orbital is 0?
  43. 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...
  44. Parveen

    How electrons show wave phenomenon within an atom?

    what is wave and how electrons show wave phenomenon within an atom. like in Px or Py or Pz orbital how electrons interchanged from one dumble to another?
  45. C

    How to Keep Up with Molecular Orbitals for Intro Chemistry

    I am a professional math and science tutor, primarily focused on math and physics. I used to tutor organic chemistry but gave it up because I didn't want to study orgo an hour per week for the rest of my life. I like general chemistry and have no trouble with most topics, but the way of...
  46. 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...
  47. N

    Photon excitation to full orbitals

    In introductory physics and chemistry, photon excitation is usually illstrated with a simple hydrogen molecule. I am wondering what happens if an electron is excited to an orbital that is already full. Would the orbital split up into different energy levels as hybridisation, so as not to violate...
  48. 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...
  49. F

    Can s oribtal electrons only drop to other s orbitals?

    Just a thought: The momentum quantum number given for s states is l = 0. If an S state electron dropped in energy, and emitted a photon with l = 1, what would take place? Am I correct that the electron could only drop to a lower l = 0 (an S state) orbital?