October 25, 2020, 02:45:14 PM
Forum Rules: Read This Before Posting


Topic: Visualizing an Oxygen atom  (Read 4880 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline gtc

  • Very New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Mole Snacks: +0/-0
Visualizing an Oxygen atom
« on: July 27, 2009, 05:33:13 AM »
Hello all,

This is my first post on you forum. I have read the rules and tried to abide, however there may be errors on my part, for which I appologies. I am not from a chemistry background at all, so this seemed like an adequete place to post, I'm sure it will be moved if deemed neccessary. I did try a search but to no avail, although my search criteria is possibly the limiting factor rather than the actual search facility, anyway I digress.

I wish to find an accurate representation of an oxygen atom, with the electrons not appearing as a cloud but rather in a single position (for each electron). As I mentioned I have only a secondary school background in chemistry, so after some internet research I have discovered s orbitals and p orbitals and that the correct orientation (I think that's the right term?) of an oxygen atom is

1s^2 2s^2 2px^2 2py^1 2pz^1

Now for my questions:

a) Is the 'orientation' I proposed correct?
b) Should I be considering hybridization? (It came up in many google searches but I'm unsure if it applies)

c) If these p orbitals are shaped like dumbells, I'm having a hard time determining how the electron passes from one side to the other without travelling through the actual nucleus? Is it just an effect of quantum mechanics ? Should I consider the elctron as a wave? Shall I just accept this for now and forget about it?

d) Are there any accurate images avaliable on the net of an Oxygen atom?
e) If no to d) is there any software that can create an accurate image? Would anybody be willing to do it for me? I'd be happy to pay for the time spent.

Thank you :)

Offline Yggdrasil

  • Retired Staff
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3211
  • Mole Snacks: +482/-21
  • Gender: Male
  • Physical Biochemist
Re: Visualizing an Oxygen atom
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2009, 02:25:38 PM »
I wish to find an accurate representation of an oxygen atom, with the electrons not appearing as a cloud but rather in a single position (for each electron).


This is impossible as it violates the laws of physics.  According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is is impossible to know both the exact position and momentum of a particle.  A stationary electron with a defined position violates this principle and thus gives an unphysical picture of an electron.  Furthermore, if you represent only one possible position of an electron in an oxygen atom, you are leaving out a lot of other information about other possible positions that the electron can inhabit.

Quote
1s^2 2s^2 2px^2 2py^1 2pz^1

Now for my questions:

a) Is the 'orientation' I proposed correct?
b) Should I be considering hybridization? (It came up in many google searches but I'm unsure if it applies)

Yes, the electron configuration ("orientation") that you have written for oxygen is correct.  Hybridization applies only in the case where oxygen is forming a chemical bonds to other atoms.  If you are considering a lone oxygen atom, then the electron configuration you wrote above is sufficient.  However, note that lone oxygen atoms are very unstable and unlikely to exist naturally.

Quote
c) If these p orbitals are shaped like dumbells, I'm having a hard time determining how the electron passes from one side to the other without travelling through the actual nucleus? Is it just an effect of quantum mechanics ? Should I consider the elctron as a wave? Shall I just accept this for now and forget about it?

This occurs exactly because an electron behaves quantum mechanically.  As a wave, the electron's wavefunction will have various nodes (like other standing waves).  While node does not oscillate up and down, the oscillations nevertheless pass through the node.

Quote
d) Are there any accurate images avaliable on the net of an Oxygen atom?
e) If no to d) is there any software that can create an accurate image? Would anybody be willing to do it for me? I'd be happy to pay for the time spent.

This I am not sure about.  It depends what you mean by accurate.  I'm sure you could find "pictures" of atoms taken with various types of high powered microscopes (e.g. scanning tunneling microscopes or atomic force microscopes).  You could call these accurate because they are based on actual observations.  But, these pictures would reveal nothing about the electronic structure of the atoms.  IMHO, the most accurate representation of the atom would be the set of equations obtained by solving the Schrodinger equation for the oxygen atom.  Unfortunately, such a representation would not be so visually striking (and is too complicated to obtain an analytical solution for).

Sponsored Links