Visualizing Atomic Oribitals

Notice: Some of these files are restricted for local access only.
Screen shots of atomic orbitals are from Atomic Orbitals CD by Yue-Ling Wong. Permission granted 6/14/96.
Additional images are from The Wilson Group.

Atomic Orbital Images

The images below are isosurfaces showing the volume that encloses 90% of the wave function. The electron is within this volume 90% of the time. The electron is not on this surface. The different colors represent the "amplitude" of the wave, from positive to negative. Similar to the peak a trough of a wave at the beach.

The color code used is:

Principle Quantum Number Orbital Orientation
1 s
2 s
  p 2px 2py 2pz
3 s
  p 3px 3py 3pz
  d 3dxy 3dxz 3dyz 3dz2 3dx2-y2
4 s
  p 4px 4py 4pz
  d 3dxy 3dxz 3dyz 3dz2 3dx2-y2
  f 4fx (x2-3y3) 4fxyz 4fxz2 4fy (3x2-y2) 4fyz2 4fz3 4fz (x2-y2)

Probability Plot

The images of atomic orbitals shown above show the isosurface for the orbital. The representation of the orbital shown below includes a cutting plane and the probibility of finding an electron in that plane.

The color code for the probability is:

2s orbital. This image shows a slice of the 2s orbital that includes the spherical node (represented by the white circle of zero probability) in the 2s orbital.

2py orbital. This image shows the intensity of the two nodes of a 2p orbital. Notice the planar node cutting through the center.

Atomic Orbital Animations

Images courtesy of The Wilson Group

This page is maintained by
Scott Van Bramer
Department of Chemistry
Widener University
Chester, PA 19013

Please send any comments, corrections, or suggestions to

This page has been accessed times since 1/5 /96 .
Last Updated Sunday, November 03, 1996 11:19:05