Atomic Orbitals Model – Post by Caitlin Johnson EDI’21

The NA chemistry teachers approached Christopher Asuncion EDI’21 and I last November to create a combined model of atomic orbitals for their Chemistry classes. We have been working on the model for several months, and now it is finally complete!

White/Clear Sphere – 2s orbital. Dark Green Lobes – 2p orbital.

Background:Orbitals are the areas in which the electrons of an atom are located, and they form different shapes.  Our orbital model features the 1s orbital, the 2s orbital, and the 2p orbital, with the 1s and 2s orbitals having a spherical shape, and the 2p having a teardrop shape. The project started in November 2018 with some initial research, and ended in April 2019 with the final touch-ups.

Light Green Sphere- 1s Orbital. Clear Sphere – 2s Orbital. Dark Green Lobes – 2p Orbital .

Update: We developed the design in CAD, and 3D printed it once the design was finished. We settled on half of an atom, with a full 1s orbital in the middle. Additionally, we printed many prototypes, as we wanted to make the 2s orbital slightly translucent, which necessitated many trials. After three prototypes, we printed a final orbital model, where we then secured the halves together with magnets. This allowed the chemistry teachers to open the model and show the 1s orbital to their classes, while also letting them close the model back up. When the model was printed, however, we came across breakage at the points where the 2p orbital met the 2s orbital. I then used a special pen to use melted 3D printer filament to weld the 2p and 2s together. I also painted the 1s and the 2p in order to differentiate the two orbitals. I coated the 1s in glow-in-the-dark paint, and the 2p in dark green paint. Christopher and I are now working on a d orbital model, which has a more complicated shape, and will require more consideration in the process of creation.