The Orbitron

A gallery of atomic orbitals and a few molecular orbitals

The Orbitron logo
  • Images representing atomic orbitals and a few molecular orbitals
  • Animated plots of wave functions
  • Animated plots of electron density
  • "Dot-density" plots of electron density
  • Plots of radial distribution functions


This version of The Orbitron is a partial rewrite of the 2002 version of The Orbitron. It is not finished - there are still some missing images, missing videos, errors in orbital names, many typos, incorrect labels, no hybrid orbitals, and no molecular orbitals. All will be fixed shortly but hopefully there will be something of use here and Flash is no longer required.

Adapted from Encarta World English Dictionary

suffix. A device for manipulating atoms or subatomic particles, accelerator.
/áwrbit'l/ noun. (Phys) Space in an atom occupied by an electron. A subdivision of the available space within an atom for an electron to orbit the nucleus. an atom has many orbitals, each of which has a fixed size and shape and can hold up to two electrons.

The Orbitron

The Orbitron dates back to 2002 but didn't change much until the end of 2020 when the demise of Flash for viewing movie files on the web forced updates. However the result should be an improvement as The Orbitron should now work well on mobile devices (only tested on Apple systems, if you have problems on other devices please let me know).


I am grateful to Dr David Cook, the late Dr Martin Grayson, Professor Patrick W. Fowler FRS, Dr J. Grant Hill, Professor Anthony J.H.M. Meijer, and Professor Barry T. Pickup (all at The University of Sheffield) for perceptive comments and much help over the years.

Image Production

The ray-traced images for the 2002 version of The Orbitron were drawn on a Macintosh using MacMegaPov, an unofficial version of POV-Ray. Images for the 2021 version of The Orbitron were created using POV-Ray 3.7. Movie sequences were created using Final Cut Pro and QuickTime.

The original "dot-density" electron density image files were created in 1992 for the first edition of my Oxford Primer: Chemical Bonding using the totally brilliant and much lamented HyperCard. More recent images were created using SuperCard and LiveCode. The interactive "dot-density" image files (using the JSmol, the Jmol JavaScript Object) were created using the same HyperCard program.


The Orbitron is ©2002-2021 Prof. Mark Winter (University of Sheffield). All rights reserved.

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