Visualizing Atomic Orbitals Using Second Life

Andrew Lang
David C. Kobilnyk, Oral Roberts University

Article in Journal of Virtual Worlds Research


We demonstrate the usefulness of Second Life as a platform for enlivening major concepts in chemistry education. These concepts include absorption spectra, selection rules, quantum numbers, and atomic orbital shapes. We have built several exhibits in Second Life which provide 3-dimensional interactivity for each of those areas: an interactive experiment showing the absorption spectrum of hydrogen, an interactive model of selection rules showing allowed and forbidden transitions for each state, a 3-dimensional grid of orbitals showing the constraints on the values of quantum numbers, and a large-scale interactive orbital display allowing the user to choose and rotate to-scale atomic orbitals based on quantum numbers.