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Quantum Mechanical Model of the Atom

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Quantum Mechanical Model of the Atom - Lesson Summary

Classical mechanics successfully explains the behavior of macroscopic objects such as falling stone on the basis of particle nature, but ignores the concept of the dual behavior of matter and thus fails to explain the behavior of microscopic particles such as protons, electrons…etc

Quantum mechanics was developed independently by Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger in 1926. The Fundamental equation in Quantum mechanics which describes the wave motion associated with a particle, popularly known as Schrödinger wave equation, gives the probability of finding an electron at different points in an atom.

When Schrödinger wave equation is solved for an electron of an atom such as Hydrogen atom, it gives the values of the possible energy levels, in which the electron can move called, quantized energy states.

Atomic orbitals are distinguished from each other based on shape, size and orientation that are expressed in terms of three quantum numbers: principal, Azimuthal and magnetic quantum numbers.

The principal quantum number helps to identify the shells in which the electrons reside the number of electrons in shells, the energies of shells and the size of orbitals.

The Azimuthal quantum number gives the number of sub-shells in a shell, their energies and the shape of the orbitals.

Following table gives relation between Principle quantum number and Azimuthal quantum number.

Principle Quantum
Number(n) Azimuthal Quantum
Number(l) Shell Subshell            1     0  K  s            2     0,1  L  s,p            3     0,1,2  M  s,p,d            4     0,1,2,3  N  s,p,d,f

The magnetic quantum number useful to find the number of allowed orientations and the number of orbitals present in a sub-shell.

Spin quantum number represents the spin of the electron about its axis, which helps to determine the magnetic behavior of an atom.


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