27 Jan 2008

H atom radial factors

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College
Course Level: 
Topics Covered: 

This is an Excel spreadsheet that contains the radial factors of the H-atom wavefunctions for the 1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p, 3d, and 4s orbitals as a function of multiples of the Bohr radius.  Plots are also included of the radial factors (R) vs. r and the radial probability distribution (4πr2R2) vs. r.  These can be used during lecture to illustrate to students how these plots change for each type of orbital, or for different principal quantum numbers, or for changing effective nuclear charge.

Equipment needs: 

Computer with Excel, projection method

Related activities: 
Time Required: 
Part of one class period
Evaluation Methods: 

On both problem sets and exams, I ask students to sketch plots of the radial factors and radial probability distributions for different atomic orbitals including getting them to think about the impact of increasing effective nuclear charge on the plots.

Evaluation Results: 

Showing students that these plots can be generated with Excel can help to demystify the mathematical aspects of atomic orbitals.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


This is a great resouce Maggie!   I plotted several different comparison graphs on individual Power Point slides to make it a little easier to make some specific comparisons in lecture if anyone is interested.  Each slide contains both R and 4πr2R2 graphs, 1st slide is just 1s, 2nd slide is 1s vs. 2s, 3rd is 1s vs. 2s vs. 3s, and 4th slide adds 2p to the mix.  I've attached my file above (radialwavefunction.ppt).  Cheers!     

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