## Wave Function and Uncertainty

Diana A 2L
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### Wave Function and Uncertainty

This is more of a bigger question, conceptual question, but am I understanding this right? Basically, the uncertainty principle and the wave function are both different methods to finding out the locations of electrons in an atom and their distance from the nucleus (or which energy level they are located in). Is that a correct interpretation of the two concepts?

Connor Ho 1B
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Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2019 12:17 am

### Re: Wave Function and Uncertainty

From my understanding, the Uncertainty principle basically explains that we cannot know the exact location or speed of an electron in an electron cloud. The wave function, however, helps to define the energy level (in the case of gen chem), like you said in the post. I don't believe the uncertainty principle has much to do with the energy level from my undertstanding, however, only the location and speed of an electron.

Diana A 2L
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### Re: Wave Function and Uncertainty

Okay that makes sense. But what do you mean by location? Location in terms of which orbital?

Sean Cheah 1E
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Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:20 am

### Re: Wave Function and Uncertainty

If my understanding is correct, the squared absolute value (well, technically modulus but I won't get into that) of the wave function describes the probability density of observing an electron in the orbital described by the function, essentially how likely you are to find an electron at any given time and location. The 3d regions that you see in orbital diagrams are simply visual representations of regions where electrons are likely to be found (where the probability density has some constant value).

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle complements this quantum model by stating that the more precisely the location of an electron is determined, the less precisely its momentum (mass * velocity) can be known. This uncertainty is the reason why the quantum model describes electron locations using wave functions and probability densities. These formulas do not tell you the exact location of an electron but rather give you a region (an orbital) where an electron can likely be found.