Atomic orbitals 2p electron density

Animated plot of the 2p electron density function (ψ2p)2. The yellow zones are where the wave function has positive values and the white zones denote negative values. There are three 2p orbitals. These have the same shape but are aligned differently in space. The three 2p orbitals normally used are labelled 2px, 2py, and 2pz.

The graph on the right is a plot of values along a single line drawn through the nucleus while the surface plot on the left shows values of (ψ2p)2 on a plane including the nucleus.

The "surface" of the three-dimensional orbital at the top of each animation represents a set of points for which the electron density of 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. Examine the 2 p wave function plots for further information.

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

Each 2p orbital has two lobes. There is a planar node normal to the axis of the orbital (so the 2px orbital has a yz nodal plane, for instance). The higher p-orbitals ( 3p, 4p, 5p, 6p, and 7p) are more complex still since they have spherical nodes as well.

The OrbitronTM, a gallery of orbitals on the WWW:
Copyright 2002-2023 Prof Mark J. Winter [Department of Chemistry, The University of Sheffield]. All rights reserved.