1
$\begingroup$

exampleIn quantum mechanics electrons are arranged in certain orbitals namely s, p, d and f orbitals.The position of the electrons are determined by 4 sets of quantum numbers n, l, m and s. Electrons can only be at a fixed distance from a nucleus which is determined by the quantum number n, but in p, d and f orbitals how does it manage to be at a fixed distance at every point in the region of these orbitals?(here is an example of p orbital in image)

$\endgroup$
2
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There is no fixed distance. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin May 24 '18 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Hm, it's not very hard to guess what the OP's misunderstanding is: The average distance only depends on n in hydrogen-like atom, as the energy levels of all l,m,s quantum states are degenerate. $\endgroup$ – Karl Jun 25 '18 at 18:30
4
$\begingroup$

I think you're confusing what the orbital shapes represent. The shapes are probability distributions-which means that you're most likely to find the electron somewhere within the shape.

Electrons can only be at a fixed distance from a nucleus

This is false

which is determined by n quantum number

The n quantum number tells you how big the orbital is-not precisely how far away the electron is.

In reality, the electron is moving around the atom, and is probably somewhere within the orbital shape.

$\endgroup$

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