Orbitals

 


What is the atomic orbital ?

An orbital can be thought of as a fuzzy cloud of charge that can contain one or two electrons. An electron is so small and is moving so fast that it seems to occupy the entire cloud of charge all at the same time.

More precisely, an orbital is a region of high probability of finding an electron.

An s orbital has a spherical shape, but it is not a solid, well-defined sphere. It is essentially a fuzzy, spherical cloud that has a high density where the electron is most likely to be found, and it becomes less dense (fuzzier) as one moves closer to the nucleus or further away from the nucleus from this region of highest density (highest probability of finding the electron.

A p orbital consists of two egg-shaped lobes on opposite sides of the nucleus. At any energy level greater than n = 1, there are three p orbitals, each consisting of two lobes. Each of the three p orbitals is perpendicular to the other two p orbitals. One can be thought of as being oriented on the x axis, one on the y axis, and one on the z axis.