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What exactly are the phases of orbitals/wavefunctions, for example the 2px orbital in hydrogen, what does it mean for the two lobes to be in different phases ?
To say that "the wavefunction is like a wave" is not completely correct. What is important here is that the wavefunction is like a function, since it is a function, with complex values. In the case of a p orbital, that function is real, and can have a positive or a negative value, depending on the position. If you consider the probability of finding the electron in some volume in space, the sign of the wavefunction is not important since the probability is proportional to ##| \psi(\mathbf{r})|^2 ##. However, the sign can be important when considering overlaping orbitals, as the sign can lead to constructive or destructive interference: in some places, the orbitals will add to each other, elsewhere they will cancel each other out.I just don't really get the significance of the different phases in each lobe, I get that the wavefunction is like a wave and has positive and negative values at certain points. I just don't get what this means really. How does a positive phase differ from a negative phase ?