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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?

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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.

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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,

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

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