I was taking a chemistry test and I encountered the following question:

How many electrons can an orbital of type f hold?

A. 6
B. 10
C. 2
D. 14
E. 1

Since there can be [-ℓ, ℓ] orientations and since the orbital type f has ℓ = 3, we should have 7 possible orientations with 2 spins, so ${7 \times 2 = 14}$, so I thought the correct answer was D (14).

However, I got it wrong and the correct answer is marked as C (2). Is it an error in the test, or am I missing something?


You're correct that there are seven possible spatial orientations for an f-type orbital, and hence seven possible orbitals in one f-type sub-shell. However, the question specifically asks for the maximum number of electrons in one such orbital, and any single atomic orbital, regardless of the sub-shell type specified by $l$, can only hold two electrons. This is by virtue of the Pauli exclusion principle. Fourteen would be the maximum number of electrons across an entire f-type sub-shell, but the question only asks about one orbital.


The question specifically ask that no.of electron an orbital of f subshell can hold.... As we know that f subshell contain 7 orbital and each orbital can hold maximum 2 electons so correct answer would be 2..we can simply understand this by taking the real life example imagine that there is house named f which consists of 7 rooms so similarly in this case house is a subshell and each room is an orbital... Thank you,

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ What new info this answer brings to be posted in the first place ? $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Aug 20 at 13:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.