Sei sulla pagina 1di 4


Electronic Structure of Atoms: The Quantum Numbers

1. Describe the different quantum numbers and its relation to locating electrons.
2. Identify the permissible values of the quantum numbers through various energy levels.

In 1926, Erwin Schrodinger made a major contribution to the field
of quantum mechanics. He wrote down rather complex
mathematical equations to express the wave properties of an
electron in an atom. His electron cloud model shows the electron
distribution and probability of finding the electron at a particular
instant. His model is commonly represented using orbitals within
which there is a 90% chance of finding the electron. For instance, a
spherical orbital means that the probability of finding the electron
is independent of direction.

First Quantum Number, n; Principal Energy Levels
The first quantum number, given the symbol n, determines the energy and distance from the nucleus of
an electron. Refer to the diagrams below and answer the questions that follow:

Essential Questions:
1. How does each quantum numbers help in locating electrons?
2. How are electrons distributed within an atom?

1. In which shell can the electron nearest from the nucleus be found?
2. Which electron shell has the lowest energy?
3. Which electron shell is farthest from the nucleus?
4. What can you say about the energy content of electrons in the fourth electron shell (n=4) to that
of the electrons in the first electron shell (n=1)?
5. What is the relationship of the different electron shell to the: (a) amount of energy of the
electrons they contain, and (b) distance from the nucleus.

Second Quantum Number, l ; Sublevels or subshells (s, p, d, f)
Each principal energy level includes one or more sublevels. The sublevels or subshells are denoted by
the quantum number l. It can take on any values starting with zero and going up to the maximum of
n-1. Refer to the diagrams below and answer the questions that follow:

1. What are the values of l in the
second energy level? Third
energy level?
2. How are the values of l related
to atomic orbitals?
3. What atomic orbital shape do
the following values mean? l = 0,
l = 1, l = 2, l = 3
4. If an electron has the quantum number of n=4 and l = 2, describe in which electron shell that
electron is most likely be found? What is the shape of its orbital at that particular energy level?
5. How many subshells can be found in the third energy level? Fourth energy level?
6. The following are some sublevel designations for the third energy level:
3s 3p 3d
Which sublevel designation has the corresponding values, (n=3 l=1)? (n=3 l=2)?

Third Quantum Number, m
; orientation of orbitals
This quantum number determines the
direction in space of the electron cloud
surrounding the nucleus. Maximum of two
electrons can be found in each orbital. For
a given value of l, m
can have the following
values: from l to l including zero.
Refer to the diagrams and answer the
questions that follow:

1. In how many ways can the s-orbital
be oriented in its axis? How about
the p-orbitals?
2. Which orbital can be oriented in
five different ways? What is the l
value for these orbitals
3. What is the maximum number of
electrons can be found in 1s
orbital? 2p orbitals?
4. What are the values of l for the 3d orbitals?
5. Which of the following set/s of quantum numbers is/are allowable? Why or why not?
A= (n=3 l= 2 m
= -2)
B= (n=4 l=2 m
= 0)

Fourth Quantum Number, m
; Electron Spin

The fourth quantum number m
is associated with electron spin. This is not related to the
previous quantum numbers and it can have two possible values

= +1/2 or m
= -1/2

Electrons that have the same value of m
(i.e. both +1/2 or -1/2) are said to have parallel spins.
Hence, electrons have opposing spins when they have different values of m


1. How many electrons are found in 3s subshell? What are the values of its m
? What can you
say about the electron spins?



1. What is the total capacity for electrons of the fourth principal level?
2. How many electrons in an atom can have each of the following quantum number designations?
n=2 l=1 m
= 0