Geometric description of shell, subshell, and orbitals

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Junxi Feng 3B
Posts: 52
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:17 am

Geometric description of shell, subshell, and orbitals

Postby Junxi Feng 3B » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:05 pm

How to think of the shell, sub-shell and orbitals geometrically? What do they look like if a picture of them is drawn?

Ethan Lam 4A
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:17 am

Re: Geometric description of shell, subshell, and orbitals

Postby Ethan Lam 4A » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:37 am

For me, I visualize the orbitals as spheres connected to or around the nucleus. It helps if you consider the orbitals as regions on the x, y, and z axis where electrons are present instead of a specific ring. The s-orbital has 1 lobes, the p-orbital has 3, the d-orbital has 5, and the f-orbital has 7. The shapes go from a sphere (s-orbital) to more complicated tear drop shapes with a ring (f-orbital).

Eileen Si 1G
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:17 am

Re: Geometric description of shell, subshell, and orbitals

Postby Eileen Si 1G » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:45 am

A shell is the pathway that an electron follows as it orbits the nucleus, so if drawn, it may just be represented by a simple circle around a nucleus.
Orbitals can be illustrated geometrically depending on whether it is categorized as s, p, d, or f. s- orbitals have no nodes and are symmetrical, so they can be drawn as a sphere. p- orbitals have two nodes, so they look like two spherical shapes that lie on a nodal plane, or something that looks like a 3-D infinity sign. d- orbitals have three nodes so they could be drawn like a donut with one node coming out from each end for a total of three nodes, or as four separate nodes that look like a 3-D four leaf flower. f- orbitals are complicated, and can be illustrated as two donuts that are stacked on top of each other with one node coming out from each end of the stacked donut nodes, or as six separate nodes that look like a 3-D six leaf flower or as an even grouping of six nodes.


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