D-Orbital Shapes

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Nicholas Wu 3E
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:00 am

D-Orbital Shapes

Postby Nicholas Wu 3E » Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:22 am


As we can see in the book, there are 5 distinct shapes possible for electrons in the d-orbital: dxy, dyz, dxz, dx^2y^2, and dz^2. What I don't understand is how specific combinations lead to certain shapes - why is there no dx^2z^2 orientation? Why is the dz^2 orbital shaped like a donut? I was under the impression that electron charges would influence other particles uniformly throughout all three planes - what makes dz^2 different from dx^2?

Nicholas Wu

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Re: D-Orbital Shapes

Postby Chem_Mod » Sun Oct 11, 2015 3:53 pm

Intuitively it seems strange that one d-orbital is different from the others, but remember that these are all coming from the Schrodinger equation and are just spatial representations of a bunch of math.

In fact, if you think about the "regular" d-orbital shape that has 4 lobes, there are 6 possible orientations. They would be labeled as xy, xz, yz, x2-y2, x2-z2, y2-z2. But due to another part of the math, there can only be 5 "unique" solutions, so the last two wavefunctions are combined to create the dz2

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