The azimuthal quantum number is a quantum number for an atomic orbital that determines its orbital angular momentum and describes the shape of the orbital. The azimuthal quantum number is the second of a set of quantum numbers which describe the unique quantum state of an electron (the others being the principal quantum number, following spectroscopic notation, the magnetic quantum number, and the spin quantum number). It is also known as the orbital angular momentum quantum number, orbital quantum number or second quantum number, and is symbolized as ℓ.
Contents

Derivation 1

Addition of quantized angular momenta 2

Total angular momentum of an electron in the atom 2.1

Relation between new and old quantum numbers 2.1.1

List of angular momentum quantum numbers 3

History 4

See also 5

References 6

External links 7
Derivation
Illustration of quantum mechanical orbital angular momentum.
Connected with the energy states of the atom's electrons are four quantum numbers: n, ℓ, m_{ℓ}, and m_{s}. These specify the complete, unique quantum state of a single electron in an atom, and make up its wavefunction or orbital. The wavefunction of the Schrödinger wave equation reduces to three equations that when solved, lead to the first three quantum numbers. Therefore, the equations for the first three quantum numbers are all interrelated. The azimuthal quantum number arose in the solution of the polar part of the wave equation as shown below. To aid understanding of this concept of the azimuth, it may also prove helpful to review spherical coordinate systems, and/or other alternative mathematical coordinate systems besides the Cartesian coordinate system. Generally, the spherical coordinate system works best with spherical models, the cylindrical system with cylinders, the cartesian with general volumes, etc.
An atomic electron's angular momentum, L, is related to its quantum number ℓ by the following equation:

\mathbf{L}^2\Psi = \hbar^2{\ell(\ell+1)}\Psi
where ħ is the reduced Planck's constant, L^{2} is the orbital angular momentum operator and \Psi is the wavefunction of the electron. The quantum number ℓ is always a nonnegative integer: 0,1,2,3, etc. (see angular momentum quantization). While many introductory textbooks on quantum mechanics will refer to L by itself, L has no real meaning except in its use as the angular momentum operator. When referring to angular momentum, it is better to simply use the quantum number ℓ.
Atomic orbitals have distinctive shapes denoted by letters. In the illustration, the letters s, p, and d describe the shape of the atomic orbital.
Their wavefunctions take the form of spherical harmonics, and so are described by Legendre polynomials. The various orbitals relating to different values of ℓ are sometimes called subshells, and (mainly for historical reasons) are referred to by letters, as follows:

ℓ

Letter

Max electrons

Shape

Name

0

s

2

sphere

sharp

1

p

6

three dumbbells

principal

2

d

10

four dumbbells or unique shape one

diffuse

3

f

14

eight dumbbells or unique shape two

fundamental

4

g

18



5

h

22



6

i

26



The letters after the f subshell just follow f in alphabetical order except j and those already used. One mnemonic to remember the sequence S. P. D. F. G. H. ... is "Sober Physicists Don't Find Giraffes Hiding In Kitchens Like My Nephew". A few other mnemonics are Smart People Don't Fail, Silly People Drive Fast, silly professors dance funny, Scott picks dead flowers, some poor dumb fool! etc.
Each of the different angular momentum states can take 2(2ℓ + 1) electrons. This is because the third quantum number m_{ℓ} (which can be thought of loosely as the quantized projection of the angular momentum vector on the zaxis) runs from −ℓ to ℓ in integer units, and so there are 2ℓ + 1 possible states. Each distinct n,ℓ,m_{ℓ} orbital can be occupied by two electrons with opposing spins (given by the quantum number m_{s}), giving 2(2ℓ + 1) electrons overall. Orbitals with higher ℓ than given in the table are perfectly permissible, but these values cover all atoms so far discovered.
For a given value of the principal quantum number n, the possible values of ℓ range from 0 to n − 1; therefore, the n = 1 shell only possesses an s subshell and can only take 2 electrons, the n = 2 shell possesses an s and a p subshell and can take 8 electrons overall, the n = 3 shell possesses s, p and d subshells and has a maximum of 18 electrons, and so on. Generally speaking, the maximum number of electrons in the nth energy level is 2n^{2}.
The angular momentum quantum number, ℓ, governs the number of planar nodes going through the nucleus. A planar node can be described in an electromagnetic wave as the midpoint between crest and trough, which has zero magnitude. In an s orbital, no nodes go through the nucleus, therefore the corresponding azimuthal quantum number ℓ takes the value of 0. In a p orbital, one node traverses the nucleus and therefore ℓ has the value of 1. L has the value √2ħ.
Depending on the value of n, there is an angular momentum quantum number ℓ and the following series. The wavelengths listed are for a hydrogen atom:

n = 1, L = 0, Lyman series (ultraviolet)

n = 2, L = √2ħ, Balmer series (visible)

n = 3, L = √6ħ, RitzPaschen series (near infrared)

n = 4, L = 2√3ħ, Brackett series (shortwavelength infrared)

n = 5, L = 2√5ħ, Pfund series (midwavelength infrared).
Addition of quantized angular momenta
Given a quantized total angular momentum \vec{\jmath} which is the sum of two individual quantized angular momenta \vec{\ell_1} and \vec{\ell_2},

\vec{\jmath} = \vec{\ell_1} + \vec{\ell_2}
the quantum number j associated with its magnitude can range from \ell_1  \ell_2 to \ell_1 + \ell_2 in integer steps where \ell_1 and \ell_2 are quantum numbers corresponding to the magnitudes of the individual angular momenta.
Total angular momentum of an electron in the atom
Due to the spinorbit interaction in the atom, the orbital angular momentum no longer commutes with the Hamiltonian, nor does the spin. These therefore change over time. However the total angular momentum J does commute with the Hamiltonian and so is constant. J is defined through

\vec{J} = \vec{L} + \vec{S}
L being the orbital angular momentum and S the spin. The total angular momentum satisfies the same commutation relations as orbital angular momentum, namely

[J_i, J_j ] = i \hbar \epsilon_{ijk} J_k
from which follows

\left[J_i, J^2 \right] = 0
where J_{i} stand for J_{x}, J_{y}, and J_{z}.
The quantum numbers describing the system, which are constant over time, are now j and m_{j}, defined through the action of J on the wavefunction \Psi

\mathbf{J}^2\Psi = \hbar^2{j(j+1)}\Psi

\mathbf{J}_z\Psi = \hbar{m_j}\Psi
So that j is related to the norm of the total angular momentum and m_{j} to its projection along a specified axis.
As with any angular momentum in quantum mechanics, the projection of J along other axes cannot be codefined with J_{z}, because they do not commute.
Relation between new and old quantum numbers
j and m_{j}, together with the parity of the quantum state, replace the three quantum numbers ℓ, m_{ℓ} and m_{s} (the projection of the spin along the specified axis). The former quantum numbers can be related to the latter.
Furthermore, the eigenvectors of j, s, m_{j} and parity, which are also eigenvectors of the Hamiltonian, are linear combinations of the eigenvectors of ℓ, s, m_{ℓ} and m_{s}.
List of angular momentum quantum numbers
History
The azimuthal quantum number was carried over from the Bohr model of the atom, and was posited by Arnold Sommerfeld.^{[1]} The Bohr model was derived from spectroscopic analysis of the atom in combination with the Rutherford atomic model. The lowest quantum level was found to have an angular momentum of zero. Orbits with zero angular momentum were considered as oscillating charges in one dimension and so described as "pendulum" orbits.^{[2]} In threedimensions the orbits become spherical without any nodes crossing the nucleus, similar (in the lowestenergy state) to a skipping rope that oscillates in one large circle.
See also
References

^ Eisberg, Robert (1974). Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei and Particles. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc. pp. 114–117.

^
External links

Development of the Bohr atom

Pictures of atomic orbitals

Detailed explanation of the Orbital Quantum Number l

The azimuthal equation explained
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