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THE FOUR QUANTUM NUMBERS

 

The four (4) quantum numbers.    Each electron has 4 quantum numbers to designate its location.  These will indicate:

(1)    n, which major energy level the electron is in 

(2)    l,  which orbital it is in

(3)    ml  , which sub orbital it is in and

(4)     ns   (½   or   - ½), which spin it has

n, the principal quantum number, can have positive integral values of 1, 2, 3 and etc. 

l, the second quantum number – the angular momentum quantum number, can have integral values from 0 to (n-1) for each value of n.  This quantum number defines the shape of the orbital.  The value of l for a particular orbital is generally designated by the letters, s, p, d and f corresponding to l values of 0,1,2,3 respectively

 

Value of  l

0

1

2

3

Letter used

s

p

d

f

 

ml, the third quantum number, the magnetic quantum number can have integral values between –l and l, including zero.  This quantum number describes the orientation of the orbital in space

 ns, the fourth quantum number is either    ½   or   - ½

a maximum of only two electrons can occupy a suborbital (box)

s, orbital, can accommodate a maximum of two electrons

ml  ?  0

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p, orbital, can accommodate maximum of 6 electrons, two in each orbital (box)

 m? -1       0           1        

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d, orbital, can accommodate a maximum of 10 electrons, two in each orbital (box)                        

 m?  -2        -1        0          1         2

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f, orbital, can accommodate a, maximum of 14 electrons, two in each orbital (box)                                                             m?  -3        -2       -1          0         1         2         3

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