## Actual Electron Configuration

ClaireHW
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:07 am
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### Actual Electron Configuration

I'm confused about the relationship between electron configuration, the wave function, orbitals, and the actual pattern of electron movement. Can anyone explain these concepts?

(Claire Woolson Dis 3J)

Priyanka Bhakta 1L
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:04 am

### Re: Actual Electron Configuration

Hi!

So the wave function is a mathematical expression and it represents a solution to the Schrodinger wave equation. When that solution (the wave function) is accurate, it describes the atomic orbitals of a certain atom. Thus, each wave function is the mathematical expression of an orbital.

The 3 quantum numbers used to describe and label each wave function are the quantum numbers n, l, and ml.

n describes the size and energy of the orbital
l describes the shape + subshell of the orbital
ml describes the orientation of the orbital in space + the individual number of orbitals within a subshell

Electrons can theoretically be found anywhere in a thin shell around the nucleus and the book gives the radial distribution function P(r) = r^2 * R^2 * (r) as the equation to find the probability that the electron will be found anywhere in a thin shell around the nucleus. As far as I know, we do not need to know this right now, but it is included in the book.

My understanding is that electrons do not actually move in a fixed orbit around the nucleus, but within a certain distance that can be represented as a wave around the nucleus (which is why we use the wave function to describe where a particular electron in an atom is).

I hope this clears things up!

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