Difference between orbital, shell, and subshell?

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Misa Belser 3C
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:06 am

Difference between orbital, shell, and subshell?

Postby Misa Belser 3C » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:00 am

What is the difference between an orbital, shell, and subshell? What are some examples of each?

Sean Monji 2B
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:06 am

Re: Difference between orbital, shell, and subshell?

Postby Sean Monji 2B » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:51 am

You could think of it this way: in Schrodinger's wave function formula, the shell is n, the orbital are the different l, and the suborbital are the different m. Basically, the shell is all of the orbitals at a certain energy state, the orbitals are the "shapes" in the shell (s, p, d, f), and the suborbital is a specific orbital with a certain direction (px, py, pz). Hope that makes sense.

Jingyi Li 2C
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:06 am

Re: Difference between orbital, shell, and subshell?

Postby Jingyi Li 2C » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:54 am

Orbital is a region in which there is a high probability (95%) of finding an electron in an atom. It is a general concept. An s-orbital is a spherical region; a p-orbial has two lobes; a d-orbital has four lobes (except one).

Shell is all the orbitals of a given principal quantum number (n). For example, one 2s- and three 2p-orbitals within the shell of n=2.

Subshell is included in the shell. It is all the all the orbitals of a given shell that have the same angular momentum quantum number (l). That is it shows the shape of the orbital (s, p, d, f). An example will be the 3d-orbitals in the third shell.

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 9.52.13 AM.png
This diagram visually explains their differences


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