Orientation of the Orbitals

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Ashley Van Belle 2B
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Orientation of the Orbitals

Postby Ashley Van Belle 2B » Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:14 pm

I am confused about the orientation of the orbitals. Do the various types of orbitals all overlap one another? For example, there are the three p-orbitals: px, py, and pz, and there are the 5 d-orbitals and the 7 f-orbitals. Can all of these different orbitals occur at the same n level? Looking at their representations on the graphs, it is hard to see how the electrons would not be interfered by the other electrons in other orbitals if they are all "squished" in the same energy level.

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Re: Orientation of the Orbitals

Postby Susanne_Taavitsa_2J » Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:37 pm

I am also quite confused by this. I believe that, if we are looking at the p orbitals for example, all three of them can occur at the same energy level. In the course reader they are drawn separately, but online you can find pictures where all of them are combined. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

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Re: Orientation of the Orbitals

Postby Katie_Ho_1M » Sat Oct 08, 2016 4:44 pm

I believe that the orbitals do overlap, for they are predictions of where the electron may be, which could be the same in the different orientations of, for example, the p orbitals. In addition, since the electrons are not particles, even if the orbitals overlap, they wouldn't collide. Please correct me if I am wrong. Anyways, the orbitals as shown in the course reader are only math functions and not actual representations of what the orbitals look like.

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Re: Orientation of the Orbitals

Postby Chem_Mod » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:41 pm

Hey Ashley! That is an insightful question, and Katie did a good job in discussing it.

The orbitals do, in fact, overlap because they are associated with one atom. You could imagine a nucleus in the center with an s orbital and 3 p orbitals around it. This would be pretty difficult to draw and visualize which is why the reader has them drawn separately. This "squishing" phenomenon is quite real. However, chemists do not call it squishing. It plays a role in bonding, reactivity, and other interesting chemical concepts.

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