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Homework Help: What is the meaning of orbital energies ?

  1. Mar 7, 2013 #1
    What is the meaning of "orbital energies"?

    Could someone please explain, because im confused: or is it the same as energy level of an electron, I mean the energy that one electron contains in a certain shell?

    Thanks for the help!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2013 #2
    I like to think of an energy of an eletron as a eletric potencial energy. Are you familiar with this concept? If not, try to think of the eletric force between the nucleus and the eletron as a gravitic force (it is very similiar in terms of variation and direction although its much smaller). Consider this analogy, the nucleus is the earth and the eletron is a person. The person has a potencial gravitacional energy that can be transformed in kinetic energy if he falls closer to the earth. The closer he is the earth the lowest his potencial energy since it has less avaiable energy to be transformed in kinetic energy. Now, returning to the eletron-nucleus interaction. The closer the eletron is to the nucleus the lowest is its eletric potencial energy (gravitacional potencial energy can be ignored). So, orbitals with a small primary quantic number, are closer to the nucleus and have a lower eletric potencial energy (or just energy, for short).

    Hope it helped!
  4. Mar 11, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the answer :) Now its basically the same!
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