Electron spin

Electron spin is an intrinsic property of electrons, akin to their mass and charge. It represents the angular momentum of an electron, which behaves like a tiny spinning object. This spin is quantized, meaning it can only have certain discrete values.

  • No two electrons within the same atom can occupy the same quantum state. This means that two electrons in the same orbital must have opposite spins.
  • The spin of an electron plays a key role in atomic structure and chemical bonding.
  • It is common to illustrate the spin of an electron using clockwise and anti-clockwise arrows. The spin of an electron is a quantum property that can be either +1/2 or -1/2.
  • The spin quantum number (ms) represents this property, with +1/2 representing spin up (often represented by an arrow pointing clockwise) and -1/2 representing spin down (often represented by an arrow pointing anti-clockwise).
  • This representation is convenient for visualization but the spin of an electron is not actually a physical rotation. It is a more abstract concept that arises from the quantum mechanical description of electrons. The clockwise and anti-clockwise arrow notation simply serves as a helpful analogy for understanding the two possible spin states of an electron.
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