4 Jul 2015

Orbital Viewer: Visualize atomic and molecular orbitals

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Kate Plass, Franklin & Marshall College

Orbital Viewer (http://www.orbitals.com/orb/ov.htm) is a PC-based program that shows electron density calculated from the Schrodinger equation for atoms and molecules. Results can be shown as probability densities or probability surfaces.

Orbital Viewer Program copyright 1986-2004 by David Manthey

Learning Goals: 

Students should be able to:
- understand what orbital drawings represent
- understand the connections between quantum numbers n, l, and m and the size, shape, phases, number of nodes, and orientations of atomic orbitals
- understand how atomic orbitals can overlap to form molecular orbitals

Implementation Notes: 

I have used this as an in-class demonstration in general and inorganic chemistry courses. Here are a few ways in which I have found this program particularly useful:
- You can show both probability density and surface probabilities with controlled probability levels. This demonstrates the relationships between the electron density and the shapes chemists draw to represent orbitals nicely.
- You can show several atoms with different orbitals, illustrating the differences in orientation in a rotatable model.
- It allows you to show the nodes and cutaway views. This allows students to visualize the nodal surfaces.
- You can place atoms near each other and generate molecular orbitals.

Time Required: 
~5 min per orbital
Evaluation Methods: 

Material is tested in quizzes and exams.

Evaluation Results: 

Never formally assessed, but students like it. It often prompts requests to show other orbitals.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

The VIPEr community supports respectful and voluntary sharing. Click here for a description of our default Creative Commons license.