What is atomic orbital?
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What Does atomic orbital Mean
The first step that we are going to take in order to know the meaning of the term atomic orbital is to discover the etymological origin of the two words that give it its shape:
-Orbital, on the one hand, derives from Latin. Specifically, it emanates from "orbit", which is used to refer to any trajectory that occurs in a circular fashion. A word that, in turn, emanates from "orbis", which is synonymous with "roundness" or "circle".
-Atomic, on the other hand, has its origin in Greek. It can be translated as "relative to a very small subject that cannot be divided" and is the result of the sum of the following lexical components: the prefix "a-", which means "without"; the noun “tome”, which is equivalent to “cut”, and the suffix “-ico”, which is used to indicate “relative to”.
An atom is a particle that cannot be divided through a chemical method. It is made up of a nucleus that is surrounded by electrons (elementary particles whose electrical charge is negative).
The electrons , then, revolve around the nucleus of the atom, making wave movements. The space where there is a high probability of finding an electron is called the atomic orbital .
The atomic orbital, therefore, is a region around the nucleus of an atom. In those areas, electrons are very likely to appear.
Ultimately, depending on how the density of the charge of the electron that surrounds the nucleus is distributed , the atomic orbital is determined. Each electron can be said to occupy an atomic orbital, defined by various quantum numbers .
An atomic orbital, on the other hand, can be referred to as a shell of the atom. The main layer is linked to a quantum number n , according to the so-called Schrödinger equation . This quantum number adopts integer values ( 1 , 2 ,…).
The closer the shell is to the nucleus, the smaller its principal quantum number becomes. In this way, the electron associated with the principal quantum number n = 1 is closer to the atomic nucleus than the principal quantum number n = 2 in that atomic orbital, for example .
Note, moreover, that electronic layers have a maximum capacity of accommodation of electrons in the atomic orbitals. The main layers, in turn, can appear associated with sublayers .
Due to the characteristics of atomic orbitals, atoms are often thought of as diffuse clouds , with electrons orbiting around the nucleus.
In addition to all the above, we cannot ignore that there are different types of orbitals if we take into account their shape. Specifically, among the most significant are the following:
-Orbitals "p", which have the shape of what are two flattened spheres towards what comes to be the point they have of contact.
-Orbitals "f", which are made up of a total of four radial nodes.
-Orbitals "s", which are characterized by having what is called spherical symmetry around what is the atomic nucleus.
-Orbitals "d", which can have different orientations.