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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 8 Issue 2 (2003) pp 96-101

On the Problem of the Exact Shape of Orbitals

Enrique Peacock-López

Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, epeacock@williams.edu
Received August 10, 2002. Accepted September 18, 2002

Published online: 4 March 2003

Abstract. To explain the inconsistency in the representation of the orbital in many textbooks, we considered the contour and polar representation of dz2orbitals. Most introductory textbooks use the polar representation in their discussions, but the dz2 orbitals seems to be the most misrepresented orbital. In particular it is represented with a “lifesaver’’ middle section. We argue that this shape belongs to the contour representation and is inconsistent with the polar representation.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; physical chemistry; quantum

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: epeacock@williams.edu)

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Issue date: April 1, 2003

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