2p wave function and nodal structures

Movie representing the ψ2p - the 2p wave function. Yellow represents positive values for the wave function and white represents negative values. One of the aims of the movie is to illustrate the nodal structure.

The graph on the left is a surface plot of ψ2p on a slice drawn through the nucleus while the plot on the right shows values along a single line drawn through the nucleus. In this case the plot shows a 2px orbital. The points on the line plot or the surface plot where the colour changes from one to the other represent the points at which the orbital nodal sphere crosses the line or surface. See the 2p electron density page for information about its electron density (the square of the wave function).

Each 2p orbital has a planar node normal to the axis of the orbital (so the 2px orbital has a yz nodal plane, for instance) but no spherical nodal surfaces. The higher p-orbitals ( 3p, 4p, 5p, 6p, and 7p) are more complex since they have one or more spherical nodes as well.

The OrbitronTM, a gallery of orbitals on the WWW: https://winter.group.shef.ac.uk/orbitron/
Copyright 2002-2023 Prof Mark J. Winter [Department of Chemistry, The University of Sheffield]. All rights reserved.