# P orbitals A-level Chemistry

Can someone please explain how, if an electron can be anywhere in an orbital, since a p orbital has two teardrop things if you get what I mean on either side of the nucleus, how could it possibly get to the other side? Can it go through the nucleus or something, cause it obviously can't teleport over??? I am confused.
(edited 4 days ago)
Original post by hellosaturday
Can someone please explain how, if an electron can be anywhere in an orbital, since a p orbital has two teardrop things if you get what I mean on either side of the nucleus, how could it possibly get to the other side? Can it go through the nucleus or something, cause it obviously can't teleport over??? I am confused.

Why can't it teleport?

Depending on how you look, electrons, aren't a thing - they're a wave. But, if you look a different way, they are a thing - they can act like a particle. They're really rather tricksie.

At any moment in time where will they be? That's the point of the shape of the orbitals... it is the volume of space where you're likely to find them. The two lobes are similar to the two sides of a sine wave where the amplitude is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. At the section where a sine wave crosses the x-axis is there a wave?

(awaits all sorts of more technical, more eloquent and/or more correct answers)
Original post by hellosaturday
Can someone please explain how, if an electron can be anywhere in an orbital, since a p orbital has two teardrop things if you get what I mean on either side of the nucleus, how could it possibly get to the other side? Can it go through the nucleus or something, cause it obviously can't teleport over??? I am confused.

Electrons in a p orbital can be anywhere in the teardrop-shaped region around the nucleus, but they do not occupy a fixed position within the orbital. Instead, they exist as a probability cloud, representing the zone, you must remember the electrons stay in a 3D space, y = f(x,y,z) where it is most likely to be found. This cloud-like distribution is fundamental to understanding the behaviour of electrons in quantum mechanics, as it defies the classical notion of an electron's precise location. The probability density of the electron cloud changes over time due to the "uncertainty principle", also known as "Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle", inherent in quantum mechanics. The "Schrödinger equation" updates the position of the electron, meaning that the probability density of finding the electron on one side decreases as the probability density on the other side increases. This process is known as "quantum tunnelling", where the electron can tunnel through the potential energy barrier between the two sides of the orbital.

😀A simple thank you is always welcome!
(edited 4 days ago)
Original post by Pigster
Why can't it teleport?
Depending on how you look, electrons, aren't a thing - they're a wave. But, if you look a different way, they are a thing - they can act like a particle. They're really rather tricksie.
At any moment in time where will they be? That's the point of the shape of the orbitals... it is the volume of space where you're likely to find them. The two lobes are similar to the two sides of a sine wave where the amplitude is sometimes positive and sometimes negative. At the section where a sine wave crosses the x-axis is there a wave?
(awaits all sorts of more technical, more eloquent and/or more correct answers)

So, the electron is a wave that spans the entire orbital i.e. both lobes and the nucleus, and essentially it becomes more 'concentrated' wherever it is most likely the position of the 'particle' electron, but it just wouldn't ever become 'concentrated' in the nucleus am I correct? Does that mean the electron is a wave and a particle at the same time?
(edited 4 days ago)
Original post by hellosaturday
So, the electron is a wave that spans the entire orbital i.e. both lobes and the nucleus, and essentially it becomes more 'concentrated' wherever it is most likely the position of the 'particle' electron, but it just wouldn't ever become 'concentrated' in the nucleus am I correct? Does that mean the electron is a wave and a particle at the same time?

I will try to give you some more ideas to confirm your assumptions. I remind you that this matter is complicated to explain in a written message.
Electron density is the probability of finding an electron in a small region of space. A high density indicates a higher probability of finding the electron, while a low density indicates a lower probability of its presence. This is due to the dynamic nature of the electron distribution within the electron cloud of an atom. The electron is not 'concentrated' in the nucleus, as the electron density decreases near the nucleus, but does not drop to zero. The nucleus exerts an attractive force on the electron, but strong electrostatic repulsion counteracts this attraction.
In quantum mechanics, an electron has the properties of both a wave and a particle. Observers determine whether electrons behave like waves or like particles. An electron in an atomic orbital has wave-like properties, as indicated by the distribution of its probability density over the orbital. The distribution shows the regions where the electron is most likely to be found, reflecting the dual nature of matter at the quantum level.

I hope I have been of some help to you.
Regards from Italy.
Original post by Nitrotoluene
I will try to give you some more ideas to confirm your assumptions. I remind you that this matter is complicated to explain in a written message.
Electron density is the probability of finding an electron in a small region of space. A high density indicates a higher probability of finding the electron, while a low density indicates a lower probability of its presence. This is due to the dynamic nature of the electron distribution within the electron cloud of an atom. The electron is not 'concentrated' in the nucleus, as the electron density decreases near the nucleus, but does not drop to zero. The nucleus exerts an attractive force on the electron, but strong electrostatic repulsion counteracts this attraction.
In quantum mechanics, an electron has the properties of both a wave and a particle. Observers determine whether electrons behave like waves or like particles. An electron in an atomic orbital has wave-like properties, as indicated by the distribution of its probability density over the orbital. The distribution shows the regions where the electron is most likely to be found, reflecting the dual nature of matter at the quantum level.
I hope I have been of some help to you.
Regards from Italy.

Hi thank you so much, this makes much more sense now! Is there a reason why the density decreases when you get closer to the nucleus? Does it have to do with forces of attraction?
(edited 3 days ago)
Original post by hellosaturday
Hi thank you so much, this makes much more sense now! Is there a reason why the density decreases when you get closer to the nucleus? Does it have to do with forces of attraction?

Yes, there are several reasons why the electron density in a p orbital decreases as you get closer to the nucleus:
1. Coulombic attraction
The nucleus has a positive charge which attracts electrons. As you approach the nucleus, the probability distribution of the electron wave function shows a striking pattern: the density of p orbitals decreases significantly, indicating a pronounced decrease in the probability of electrons near the nucleus.
2. The p orbitals have a peculiarity characterised by angular nodes where the probability density of finding an electron is zero. This peculiarity arises from the unique combination of s and p orbitals that make up the p orbital, resulting in a node that bisects the angular extent of the orbital. In contrast, the s orbitals have no such nodal points and have a continuous spherical probability density distribution that peaks at the nucleus.
3. According to quantum mechanics, electrons do not have fixed positions but exist in a probabilistic state described by their wave functions. The shape of the p-orbital has a specific distribution, resulting in a lower density near the nucleus.
4. Shielding effect: In multi-electron atoms, the inner shell electrons act as a shield, deflecting the full force of the positive charge of the nucleus away from the outer electrons. As a result, the outer electrons have a reduced effective charge, leading to a decrease in their density near the nucleus.
5. Conclusion
In summary, the combination of attractive forces, p-orbital shape and quantum mechanics leads to a decrease in the electron density near the nucleus in p-orbitals.

Kind regards from Italy!😀

Supplement: Try to see if your university library has this book, it is very well written and full of explanations. It is really complete.
All three authors are Italian.
(edited 3 days ago)