P Orbital

Atomic Structure

The p orbital is shaped like a dumbell.
The p orbital is shaped like a dumbell. Patrick George, Getty Images

At any given moment, an electron can be found at any distance from the nucleus and in any direction according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The p orbital is a dumbbell-shaped region describing where an electron can be found, within a certain degree of probability. The shape of the orbital depends on the quantum numbers associated with an energy state.

All p orbitals have l = 1, with three possible values for m (-1, 0, +1).

The wave function is complex when m = 1 or m = -1.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "P Orbital." ThoughtCo, Jun. 10, 2015, thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2015, June 10). P Orbital. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "P Orbital." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/p-orbital-603802 (accessed November 18, 2017).