## orbitals, shells, subshells

JChen_2I
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:17 am

### orbitals, shells, subshells

could someone explain the difference between orbitals, shells, and subshells please? thank you!

Sahil Jog 1F
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:16 am

### Re: orbitals, shells, subshells

Orbitals are basically the energy level of the electron and are represented by probability density clouds. Shells are represented by n (principal quantum number) and are a visual representation of orbitals or the probability density clouds of the electron/electrons. Subshells, on the other hand describes all different configurations the overall shell has. For example, the s orbital has a unique spherical shell which cannot be broken down to subshells. However, the p orbital does have 3 different configurations in their space-time that make up the overall shell.

Sanjana Munagala_1j
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:17 am
Been upvoted: 1 time

### Re: orbitals, shells, subshells

So its easiest to understand the concepts when you are able to understand the quantum numbers. So n is the principle quantum number and it represents the energy level and a shell that an electron in is. For example if an electron is said to be in the 6px orbital, then n is equal to 6, or the electron is in the 6th shell. The second number is l or the angular momentum quantum number. l is the subshell where an electron might be and it describes the shape of the subshell. For example, if an electron is in the 6px orbital, it is located in the p-subshell which is shaped like an infinity sign. Finally, the third quantum number ml is the magnetic quantum number and describes the orbital that an electron is in and gives the orientation of that orbital. For example, if an electron is in the 6px orbital, then the p- subshell is oriented along the x-axis.

So to review:

n represents the shell an electron is in and describes size and energy level
l represents the subshell an electron is in and describes shape
ml represents the orbital an electron is in and describes the orientation

Hope that helps!!

Lindsey Chheng 1E
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:16 am

### Re: orbitals, shells, subshells

Level or shell: the level or "ring" that the electron occupies aka the Principal Quantum Number (n)
Ex: 1s = 1st shell
Ex: 2s and 2p = 2nd shell

Sublevel or subshell: the combination of all the types of shapes (s, p, d, f)
Ex: 1s = subshell
Ex: 2s = subshell
Ex: 2p = subshell

Orbital: a single shape (px, py). Can hold up to 2 electrons.
Ex: 1s = orbital
Ex: 2s = orbital
Ex: 2px = orbital
Ex: 2py = orbital
Ex: 2pz = orbital

DHavo_1E
Posts: 118
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2019 12:17 am

### Re: orbitals, shells, subshells

JChen_3C wrote:could someone explain the difference between orbitals, shells, and subshells please? thank you!

Hi,

I went to a step-up and a UA showed me a diagram that was very helpful to me and can be found on the website linked below.
This website will provide more insight on the difference between orbitals, shells, and subshells https://study.com/academy/lesson/orbita ... ation.html

Shells refer to an electron's energy level, and can be defined by n. If n=2, then it refers to the electron's second energy level.
Within the shell, there are subshells, which is still broad, and can be shown in the diagram as the s and p shapes. What this means is that in the 2nd shell, there are subshells of both s and p, correlating to the l values (i.e. if l=0, it refers to the s-shape and if l=1, it refers to the p shape).
Orbitals then are more specific, referring to a specific shape with a specific angular momentum. An example can be seen through the diagram as it points to an s orbital and 3 p orbitals separately. (i.e. an orbital would be a 1s orbital referring to the one s shape in the first energy level).