1
$\begingroup$

enter image description here

In the picture, graphs show the constructive interference of two 1s atomic orbitals. My question is, what does the horizontal axis in wavefunction graph represent, does It represent the distance from the nucleus? We see the pick point of wavefunction on H atom, does It mean that highest probability of electron density is on the nucleus, which is impossible. I am quite confused about the meaning of a wavefunction, can anyone help me?

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ We should also keep in mind that nuclei are usually described as point charges in quantum chemistry. $\endgroup$ – Felipe S. S. Schneider Feb 9 '17 at 10:46
4
$\begingroup$

You are mostly right. The horizontal axis represents the distance from the nucleus. The maximum of the electron density of 1s orbitals is in fact at the nucleus. This is not impossible, remember that electron density can be interpreted as the probability that an appropriate experiment will detect the electron there. In fact, electron density "at" the nucleus is one of the major ways NMR spectroscopy works.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answers, everything is more clear now. As far as I understand since the size of nucleus is extremely small, Its considered as a point and electrons can be assumed to have the highest probability on that point. Even though they are not exactly inside the nucleus It can be assumed that they share same location. $\endgroup$ – Mert Ertac Feb 9 '17 at 14:44

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.