Actual Electron Configuration

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Actual Electron Configuration

Postby ClaireHW » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:23 pm

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
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Re: Actual Electron Configuration

Postby Priyanka Bhakta 1L » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:08 am


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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