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Are the orbitals circular or spherical or parabolic? Are they 3D?

  1. Jun 14, 2012 #1
    Are the orbitals circular or spherical or parabolic?? Are they 3D?

    Are the orbitals circular or spherical or parabolic?? Are they 3D?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2012 #2
    Re: orbitals...

    I assume you mean atomic and/or molecular orbitals?

    Different orbitals have different shapes, depending mainly on the angular momentum. For atomic orbitals, "s" orbitals are spherical, while "p" orbitals are shaped as two opposing lobes. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_orbital#Orbitals_table for some images.

    It's important to note the difference between orbital and orbit. The latter is a path in space, such as a planet follows around its star. Its position is well-defined at each instance of time. By contrast, quantum particles do not have such well-defined positions. The (squared) magnitude of the orbital gives probabilities for finding the particle at a particular location. If you like, you can imagine the electron in an orbital "smeared out" over the orbital, like a cloud.
     
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