How do d and f orbitals differ from s and p orbitals?

D and F orbitals differ from S and P orbitals in terms of their shape, energy levels, and electron capacity.

In atomic structure, electrons reside in areas called orbitals, which are categorised into four types: s, p, d, and f. These orbitals differ in their shape, energy levels, and the number of electrons they can accommodate.

S orbitals are spherical in shape and each can hold a maximum of two electrons. They are the simplest type of orbital and are found in all energy levels. P orbitals, on the other hand, are dumbbell-shaped and can hold up to six electrons. They start from the second energy level.

D orbitals are more complex. They are mainly clover-shaped, although one of the five d orbitals has an additional circular plane. Each d orbital can hold two electrons, meaning a set of five d orbitals can accommodate a total of ten electrons. D orbitals start from the third energy level.

F orbitals are the most complex in shape and are difficult to visualise. There are seven f orbitals, each capable of holding two electrons, so a set of f orbitals can hold up to fourteen electrons. F orbitals start from the fourth energy level.

The energy levels of these orbitals also differ. In a single atom, s orbitals are usually the lowest in energy, followed by p, then d, and finally f. However, this can vary depending on the electron configuration of the atom.

In terms of electron capacity, s orbitals can hold a maximum of 2 electrons, p orbitals can hold up to 6, d orbitals can accommodate up to 10, and f orbitals have the highest capacity with up to 14 electrons.

Understanding the differences between these orbitals is crucial in studying atomic structure and electron configuration, which are fundamental concepts in chemistry.

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