## Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

MorganYun1H
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:00 am

### Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

What Is the difference between shells, subshells, and orbitals?

Salman Azfar 1K
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:00 am

### Re: Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

So the shell is the quantum number n, the general energy level. The subshell consists of the levels within that quantum number, so within n=2 you have the s orbitals and p orbitals corresponding to l=0 and l=1.
The ones I'm not entirely sure about are the orbitals, but here is my best answer: orbitals are the specific state (basically they describe the behavior of) the electrons within the subshells. Another way I've seen it put is the pattern of electron density within a subshell.

Emily Oren 3C
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:07 am

### Re: Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

To elaborate on orbitals, there are three orbitals in the p-subshell (px, py, and pz) that are determined by the ml quantum number. You can think of the orbitals as the different "orientations" that the subshell can have. The d-subshell has five orbitals. Each orbital can have two electrons in it with different spins, so the p-subshell can have six total electrons. Hope that helps!

Aliza Ajmal 1D
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:05 am

### Re: Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

Each of the "subshells" (s,p,d,f) have a different number of nodes or orientations (ml). For the s subshell, there is only 1 orbital. For the p subshell there are 3 orbitals. The d subshell has 5, and the f subshell has 7. The number of orbitals there are increase with the angular quantum number l. Another way to remember how many orbitals are in each subshell is to count how many possible orientations (ml) there are. For example, the s subshell only has one possible value for ml, therefore it can only have 1 orbital. You can also look at the diagrams for the shapes of these subshells (when you count the nodes it will match to the number of orbitals) if you are more of a visual thinker, but it isn't necessary to know what the d and f subshells look like since they are so complex. I hope this helps and didn't overload with too much information!

Abigail Urbina 1K
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:01 am

### Re: Shells, Subshells, and Orbitals

The above responses are great, but to elaborate on orbitals, orbitals can be thought of in terms of probability density. Instead of thinking of electrons as moving around in an orbit, meaning only round and round in a 2D flat space, think of the possible area (in terms of volume) that an electron can me found as it is moving around an electron shell. Think of the actual 3D shapes an orbital can assume, and those orbitals represent the area that an electron MAY be as it is moving around.