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4: Atomic Orbitals

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    Valence atomic orbitals on neighboring atoms combine to form bonding, non-bonding and antibonding molecular orbitals. In Section 1 the Schrödinger equation for the motion of a single electron moving about a nucleus of charge Z was explicitly solved. The energies of these orbitals relative to an electron infinitely far from the nucleus with zero kinetic energy were found to depend strongly on Z and on the principal quantum number n, as were the radial "sizes" of these hydrogenic orbitals. Closed analytical expressions for the \(r\),\(θ\), and \(ϕ\) dependence of these orbitals are given in Appendix B. The reader is advised to also review this material before undertaking study of this section.

    • 4.1: Shapes of Atomic Orbitals
      Shapes of atomic orbitals play central roles in governing the types of directional bonds an atom can form.
    • 4.2: Directions of Atomic Orbitals
      Atomic orbital directions also determine what directional bonds an atom will form.
    • 4.3: Sizes and Energies
      Orbital energies and sizes go hand-in-hand; small 'tight' orbitals have large electron binding energies (i.e., low energies relative to a detached electron). For orbitals on neighboring atoms to have large (and hence favorable to bond formation) overlap, the two orbitals should be of comparable size and hence of similar electron binding energy.

    This page titled 4: Atomic Orbitals is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jack Simons via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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