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Position of subshells in a bond

  1. Mar 13, 2013 #1
    I've learned that there are three types of p shells, namely Px, Py and Pz, each in a different direction. I've also learned that when different atoms bond together, they form specific shapes depending on the number of bonds and electrons.

    I want to ask, will the shape of the p or d subshells alter when they are involved in a bond?

    For example, phosphorus pentachloride. This molecule's shape is trigonal bipyramidal. The phosphorus atom definitely uses all the electrons in its outermost shell to bond with the chlorine atoms right? So what will happen to the p subshells if they were to form a trigonal bipyramidal shape?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Subshells that are involved in bonding become parts of the molecular orbitals. Shapes of molecular orbitals are different from the shapes of atomic orbitals - after all, the don't occupy just a vicinity of an atom, they occupy whole molecule.
  4. Mar 13, 2013 #3


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    Science Advisor

    The px, py and pz orbitals span a vector space. Just like you can create a vector in real space pointing in any direction from the unit vectors pointing in x, y and z direction, you can create p orbitals pointing in any direction from the px, py and pz orbitals.
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