Month: February 2017

Orbitals in atoms (Atomic orbitals)

In atoms, electrons don’t just stay stationary relative to the nucleus, or orbit the nucleus in a fixed path. Instead they are found as, well, they are not found. It is impossible to know the exact location of an atom. But, there are areas which there is a probability of finding an electron, called electron probability clouds. The configuration of these clouds and electrons are called orbitals, a.k.a atomic orbitals.

Orbitals have 4 types; S, P, D and F orbitals. There are multiple orbitals for every shell, for example the first shell only has the 1s orbital, while the second shell has the 2s and the 2p orbitals.

All orbital types except S can be separated into various counterparts. A p-type orbital has 3 parts; px, py and pz. The d and f orbitals are more complicated, and I won’t go over them in this post.

Orbitals, take part in most phenomena that most people don’t know the reason to. A good example of this is why the water molecule is bent. This happens because of orbitals trying to not overlap each other (because two electrons repel each other). And because they get as far away as possible from each other, oxygen takes a tetrahedral shape. And if oxygen is tetrahedral, no two bonds will make the molecule straight. A similar example is why methane is tetrahedral. Carbon is tetrahedral too, just like oxygen. A tetrahedron has four vertices, methane has four hydrogen atoms. So, the four hydrogen atoms bond to each of the vertices of the tetrahedron the carbon forms, therefore making methane tetrahedral.

This is all for now, I am in a rush right now, and that is why I couldn’t write too much. This is all for this post, I will make another post on Sunday explaining orbitals, more in detail. Take care!

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