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Atomic orbitals: 3p electron density

Schematic plot of the 3px electron density function ψ3px2. Blue represents negative values for the wave functions and red represents positive values.

The "surface" of the orbital represents points for which the electron density for that orbital is the same - an isosurface. By choosing different values of electron density, denoted by the bar moving up and down on the line plot or by the moving plane on the surface plot, then the size of the three-dimensional plot changes. This plot also shows that the magnitude of the electron density for the inner lobes is high so that if we choose a high threshold value (when the bar is high), then we only see the inner lobes in the three-dimensional plot. Only by moving the bar down sufficiently far does the main outer lobe become visible.

The plot above is labelled for the 3px orbital but the form of the plots for the 3py and 3pz orbitals is similar, differing only in orientation.

All values are of necessity not negative since the square of any real number cannot be less than zero.

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Document served: Sunday 27th September, 2020