Electrons show wave-particle duality

Particle (atom) containing a wave (electron) on Quora

Atoms contain electrons. We consider atoms as particles but electrons which are inside the atom as waves (50% chances). When we talk about orbits and orbitals, outer electrons, inner electrons, I sub-consciously assume that we are talking about the particle nature of electron. But this model is true only half of the time. The possibility of the electron being a wave at any time is also 50% . Particle nature and Wave nature are two different things because scientists came up with wave-particle duality. So we cannot talk about outer electrons, inner electrons, degenerate orbitals in the case of wave nature of electrons.Even if we can say inner part of the wave(close to nucleus) and outer part of the wave(away from the nucleus) ,what we are going to do in that case to solve energy, wavelength, position of the electron (in wave form) in an atom (a particle)?

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    $\begingroup$ There are no chances, no possibilities, and no half of the time. Each electron is (kind of) a particle and a wave at the same time. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Sep 17 '18 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ so how can we measure the energy of a wave by using equations to calculate energy for a particle ? why we need to separate them in first place when we can get the thing going just by confining the energy at one place( in particle form) rather than distributed energy in wave form ? $\endgroup$ – Beyond Zero Sep 17 '18 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ We can't and don't. You may think of Bohr atom as a lucky coincidence having no practical consequences. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Sep 17 '18 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ why we don't calculate the energy in wave form of an electron when we have invested our time in finding wave form of the electron ? If results come same by using particle nature equations, then whats different ? $\endgroup$ – Beyond Zero Sep 17 '18 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Back up. Particles and waves are two abstractions. Whether an electron behaves like classical physics says a particle should, or a waves should depends on the experiment. A zebra is not a white horse 50% of the time and 50% a black horse in the other time, it is a zebra - something different. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Sep 17 '18 at 18:03

Interesting question and this is a complicated topic. Actually it is not true that the wave and particle models are each valid 50 percent of the time. I think it is better to say that the wave model is always valid, but under some conditions the wave gets compressed down to a small area, so it looks like a particle. I hope that makes sense, please comment if it doesn't?

I am not a quantum chemist, but I think the normal conditions for electrons in atoms and molecules are not ones that make them act like particle. So therefore we should always think of them as waves. Luckily we can still talk about the "inner" and "outer" electrons while they are waves. It is not "inner" and "outer" exact position, it is an area occupied by the wave, the "inner" one is nearer to the nucleus, the "outer" one if further away. For atoms these are called atomic orbitals - if you look them up on Wikipedia it might be very interesting.

If you want to solve the energy, wavelength and position, it's quite complicated. I would recommend studying quantum mechanics. It will take a long time to get there, although it is very interesting. There might be a quicker but less detailed course just for chemists to do these calculation too. I hope that's helpful.

  • $\begingroup$ Solving for the position and wavelength of an electron is not possible since the wavelength is akin directly related to momentum, and solving for both would violate the uncertainty principle. At best, you can have a spread in both. $\endgroup$ – Zhe Sep 18 '18 at 17:24

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