Visualising cell structures in three dimensions in mere minutes

Viral pathogens like the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus change the interior structure of the cells they infect. These changes occur at the level of individual cell components—the organelles—and can provide information on how ...

Wrangling an octopus-like viral replication machine

Endemic in Western African countries, Lassa virus is transmitted to humans through food or household items that are contaminated with the urine or feces of Mastomys rats. Even though many people who become infected with Lassa ...

How a viral RNA changes shape to hijack host cells

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researchers have observed how an RNA molecule from a virus forms a complex, three-dimensional structure, and is able to change its shape to hijack host proteins. The details ...

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Electron configuration

In atomic physics and quantum chemistry, electron configuration is the arrangement of electrons of an atom, a molecule, or other physical structure. It concerns the way electrons can be distributed in the orbitals of the given system (atomic or molecular for instance).

Like other elementary particles, the electron is subject to the laws of quantum mechanics, and exhibits both particle-like and wave-like nature. Formally, the quantum state of a particular electron is defined by its wave function, a complex-valued function of space and time. According to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, the position of a particular electron is not well defined until an act of measurement causes it to be detected. The probability that the act of measurement will detect the electron at a particular point in space is proportional to the square of the absolute value of the wavefunction at that point.

An energy is associated to each electron configuration and, upon certain conditions, electrons are able to move from one orbital to another by emission or absorption of a quantum of energy, in the form of a photon.

Knowledge of the electron configuration of different atoms is useful in understanding the structure of the periodic table of elements. The concept is also useful for describing the chemical bonds that hold atoms together. In bulk materials this same idea helps explain the peculiar properties of lasers and semiconductors.

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