Introduction to Orbitals

An orbital is defined as a region in an atom where there is a high probability of finding an electron. The s, p, and d orbitals will be introduced in this section. There is one type of s orbital, which is spherically shaped. There are three types of p orbitals, referred to as px, py, and pz. The p orbitals are often referred to as being dumbell shaped. There are five d orbitals, referred to as dz2, dxy, dxz, dyz , and dx2-y2. The d orbitals are what give transition metals their special properties. In transition metal ions the outermost d orbitals are incompletely filled with electrons so they can easily give and take electrons. This makes transition metals prime candidates for catalysis. The outermost s and p orbitals are usually empty and therfore less useful for electron transfer. Below are representations of the d orbitals.