# Visualization of Atomic Orbitals

## s Orbitals

As you observed in earlier exercises, s orbitals are spherically symmetric. While all s orbitals have *l* = *m* = 0, the value of *n* can vary. What is the effect of *n* on the properties of an s orbital?

### Nodes

At certain points the wave function, y, equals zero. At such points there is a zero probability of interacting with the electron. A collection of points where y = 0 create a nodal surface, which can have several different geoometries.

The wave function can be either positive or negative. On one side of a nodal surface the wave function is positive; on the opposite side the wave function is negative. The sign of the wave function is important when one attempts to superimpose wave functions.

### Exercise

Three different representations for an orbital are shown below: Radial Distribution Plot, Electron Density Plot, and Virtual Reality Isosurface Plot.

Examine the shape and structure of s orbitals for various principal quantum numbers and answer the following questions. In the electron density and isosurface plots, the green color corresponds with regions where y > 0 and the red color corresponds with regions where y < 0. For orbitals with multiple regions (two regions being separated by a nodal surface), the individual wave function regions can be selectively removed from the isosurface plot.

- What is the shape of the nodal surface for s orbitals?
- For a given value of
*n*, how many nodal surfaces are present?
- For orbitals with multiple regions (one or more nodal surfaces), in which region is the electron most likely to be found?

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