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Schrodinger quantum number n.

The principal quantum number n can take on the


At the beginning of the twentieth century, experimental evidence values 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... . Associated with each n is a principle energy level
suggested that atomic particles were also wave-like in nature. For known as a shell. Thus, shell 1 has n=1, shell 2 has n=2 etc. and so on
example, electrons were found to give diffraction patterns when passed associated with it.
through a double slit in a similar way to light waves. Therefore, it was
reasonable to assume that a wave equation could explain the behaviour of Each shell has subshells associated with it
atomic particles. Depending upon its quantum number, each shell can have one or more
subshells associated with it. For the n=1 shell there is only one subshell -
Schrodinger was the first person to write down such a wave equation. the s subshell. For the n=2 shell there are two subshells - the s and p
Much discussion then centred on what the equation meant. The subshells and so on. The number of subshells within a shell is equal to n.
eigenvalues of the wave equation were shown to be equal to the energy principle number the
levels of the quantum mechanical system, and the best test of the equation quantum of subshell
was when it was used to solve for the energy levels of the Hydrogen atom, number subshells labels
and the energy levels were found to be in accord with Rydberg's Law. 1 1 s
2 2 s, p
It was initially much less obvious what the wavefunction of the equation
3 3 s, p, d
was. After much debate, the wavefunction is now accepted to be a
4 4 s, p, d, f
probability distribution. The Schrodinger equation is used to find the
The shells, subshells and orbitals can be summarized with the diagram
allowed energy levels of quantum mechanical systems (such as atoms, or
below for a typical atom. (A mnemonic device exists to recall this order.)
transistors). The associated wavefunction gives the probability of finding
the particle at a certain position.

Aufbaus Principle
Aufbau comes from the German word "Aufbauen" which means "to build". Each subshell has one or more orbitals within it
In essence when writing electron configurations we are building up Orbitals are like "rooms" within which electrons "reside". The s subshell
electron orbitals as we proceed from atom to atom. As we write the has one s-orbital. The p subshell has three p-orbitals. The possibilities are
electron configuration for an atom, we will fill the orbitals in order of listed in the table below:
increasing atomic number. The Aufbau principle originates from the Paulis subshell type of number of
exclusion principle which says that no two fermions (e.g., electrons) in an orbital orbitals
atom can have the same set of quantum numbers, hence they have to s s 1
"pile up" or "build up" into higher energy levels. How the electrons build up p p 3
is a topic of electron configurations. d d 5
f f 7
Example
g g 9
If we follow the pattern across a period from B (Z=5) to Ne (Z=10) the
number of electrons increase and the subshells are filled. Here we are
The Aufbau Principle
focusing on the p subshell in which as we move towards Ne, the p subshell
The physical and chemical properties of elements is determined by the
becomes filled.
atomic structure. The atomic structure is, in turn, determined by the
B (Z=5) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p1
electrons and which shells, subshells and orbitals they reside in. The rules
C (Z=6) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p2
af placing electrons within shells is known as the Aufbau principle. These
N (Z=7) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p3
rules are:
O (Z=8) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p4
F (Z=9) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p5
1. Electrons are placed in the lowest energetically available subshell.
Ne (Z=10) configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6
2. An orbital can hold at most 2 electrons.
3. If two or more energetically equivalent orbitals are available (e.g., p, d
The Aufbau Principle
etc.) then electrons should be spread out before they are paired up
The equations of modern atomic theory are difficult to solve. Fortunately,
(Hund's rule).
many of the results can be obatined by following some simple rules. These
Examples
rules are known as the Aufbau principle. However, we first need to discuss
quantum numbers, shells, subshells and orbitals. Hydrogen Carbon
Helium Nitrogen
The principal quantum number n - the shell Lithium Flourine
Quantum numbers abound in quantum theory. These quantum numbers Beryllium Neon
serve the purpose of keeping track of the various quantum possibilities that Boron Sodium
emerge. Perhaps the most important quantum number is the "principal" Scandium