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Atomic orbitals: 6s wave function

Schematic plot of the 6s wave function ψ6s. Blue represents negative values for the wave function and red represents positive values. Click on the "Show nodal structure" button to get a clearer view of the nodal structure for this orbital.

The graph on the left is a plot of values along a single line drawn through the nucleus while the surface plot on the right shows values of ψ6s on a slice drawn through the nucleus.

The equation for the 6s orbital of any given atom depends only upon the distance from the nucleus, that is, the radius, r. This means there are no directional properties - the value of the wave function for a given value of r is the same no matter what direction is chosen. This is why the orbital appears spherical.

The equation for the 6s orbital (ψ6s) shows that on moving away from the nucleus, the function starts from a high point but moves across to negative values, back again to positive, back again to negative, back again to positive, and back again to negative before approaching zero from the negative side. The points at which the function crosses the axis at zero are referred to as nodes. Since the axis is crossed at the same five radii in any direction, we see there are nodal surfaces. In this case they are radial nodes since the nodal surfaces are represented by spheres.

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The Orbitron is a gallery of orbitals on the WWW

The OrbitronTM, a gallery of orbitals on the WWW, URL: http://winter.group.shef.ac.uk/orbitron/
Copyright 2002-2015 Prof Mark Winter [The University of Sheffield]. All rights reserved.
Document served: Thursday 23rd November, 2017