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P orbital notation

  1. May 21, 2013 #1

    Reading http://rmp.aps.org/abstract/RMP/v70/i4/p1039_1 I've run into a notational question of atomic p orbitals. The authors use symbols like [itex]p_\sigma[/itex] and [itex]p_\pi[/itex]. From their fig. 3 (attached), they do look like [itex]p_x[/itex] and [itex]p_z[/itex] orbitals, respectively, rather than anything close to σ or π bonds.

    Is this just a common notational convention that I've somehow missed? And if so, what is the symbol for the third p orbital?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2013 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Where's the figure?
  4. May 22, 2013 #3
    Here it is, I hope...

    Attached Files:

  5. May 22, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    They are the indeed ##p_x## and ##p_z##orbitals. My guess is that they are using this notation to signify that the bond formed will be a ##\sigma## or ##\pi## bond.
  6. May 22, 2013 #5
    Ah! Now that makes some sense. Thank you.
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