# What is the difference between nodal surfaces and nodal planes?

Jul 11, 2017

Here's my explanation.

#### Explanation:

A nodal surface is a region of space in which the probability of finding an electron is zero.

There are different types of nodal surfaces.

For example. the diagram above compares the electron probability densities for the hydrogen $\text{1s, 2s}$, and $\text{3s}$ orbitals.

Note that all three are spherically symmetrical.

However, for all $\text{s}$ orbitals except the $\text{1s}$, there are spherical regions of zero electron probability (nodes).

We could call them spherical nodes or spherical nodal surfaces. They are part of a more general set called the radial nodes.

Also, all $\text{p}$ orbitals have areas of zero electron probability in the $x y , x z$, or $y z$ planes.

We call these nodal planes or nodal planar surfaces. They are part of a more general set called the angular nodes.

All $\text{p}$ orbitals except $\text{2p}$ have spherical nodes as well as nodal planes.

For example, a $\text{3p}$ orbital has both a spherical and a planar nodal surface.

A $\text{4p}$ orbital has a nodal plane and two spherical nodal surfaces.

$d$ and $f$ orbitals have even more complicated-looking nodal surfaces.