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# OrbitalReps - Representations of Orbitals When we attempt...

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Representations of Orbitals When we attempt to represent orbitals by drawings or models, we are trying to show how the electron wave function, Ψ , or (more often) the probability for the electron, % Ψ 2 , is distributed in space; i.e., where it is high, low, or zero (a node). Sometimes the representations take on the appearance of physical objects, but it is important to keep in mind that these are simply representations of mathematical quantities. Thus, when we say something like "This electron is in the 1 s orbital.", what we really mean is that the electron behaves according to the wave function Ψ for which n = 1, l = 0, and m l = 0. The following are standard ways of graphically or pictorially representing the variation of Ψ or Ψ 2 in space about the nucleus. 1. Radial Plot : Ψ vs. r or Ψ 2 vs. r This is a two-dimensional plot of Ψ or Ψ 2 versus the distance, r , from the nucleus, without trying to show the three dimensional aspects of the distribution. Sometimes a particular direction in space is chosen ( x , y , z )

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