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What does it mean when an orbital is described as symmetrical or non-symmetrical? I understand that s-orbitals are symmetrical, while p-, d-, and f-orbitals are non-symmetrical, but I am a little confused on what that exactly means. Could someone please elaborate for me?
The symmetry just describes the shape of the orbitals. S the only symmetric one because it is spherical. The other orbitals have shapes that are not symmetric. Not sure what the orbital symmetry tells us though
All s orbitals are spherical in shape so they have spherical symmetry. Therefore, the wave function only depends on the distance from the nucleus and not the direction. The p, d, and f orbitals do not have symmetry since they are not spherically symmetric.
For me, I like to think that in s orbitals, there's an equal chance for the electron to be anywhere in the sphere, thus making them symmetrical. All the other orbitals (p,d,f) all have increasingly complex shapes on multiple different planes with accompanying nodal planes where electrons have 0 probability of going there, this making them non-symmetrical.
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