Inorganic Chemistry - Molecular p-OrbitalsHybridization refers to the overlap and use of different orbitals in order to achieve a bond between atoms. An example is ammonia, NH3. The nitrogen in this molecule is sp3 . This is because it has four orbitals in use for bonding and the electron pair attached to the nitrogen. The basics of hybridization work with s and p orbitals; but when learning inorganic chemistry, it is helpful to understand the d orbitals as well. As previously mentioned with molecular orbital theory, the s orbital only has one orbital and the p orbital has three orbitals. Continuing with this trend, the d orbital has five separate orbitals. These orbitals each are labeled based upon their shape and orientation in a three-dimensional plane and are named as follows:


The s orbital is simply s because only one orbital exists.

The p orbital consists of three orbitals:

  • px
  • py
  • pz

And the d orbital is composed of five orbitals:

  • dxy
  • dyz
  • dxz
  • dz2
  • dx2-y2

The orbitals do continue on, and occur in high atomic number molecules but become complicated very quickly. The orbital after d is f, then g, and so on through the alphabet from there. For extra knowledge, s stands for sharp, p is for principal, d is for diffuse, and f is for fundamental. When referring to orbitals it is primarily done through their one letter abbreviation, but there are the full names in case they need to be referenced.