Molecular orbital

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Complete acetylene (H-C[?]C-H) molecular orbital set. The left column shows MO's which are occupied in the ground state, with the lowest-energy orbital at the top. The white and grey line visible in some MO's is the molecular axis passing through the nuclei. The orbital wave functions are positive in the red regions and negative in the blue. The right column shows virtual MO's which are empty in the ground state, but may be occupied in excited states. Orbitals acetylene.jpg
Complete acetylene (H–C≡C–H) molecular orbital set. The left column shows MO's which are occupied in the ground state, with the lowest-energy orbital at the top. The white and grey line visible in some MO's is the molecular axis passing through the nuclei. The orbital wave functions are positive in the red regions and negative in the blue. The right column shows virtual MO's which are empty in the ground state, but may be occupied in excited states.

In chemistry, a molecular orbital is a mathematical function describing the location and wave-like behavior of an electron in a molecule. This function can be used to calculate chemical and physical properties such as the probability of finding an electron in any specific region. The terms atomic orbital and molecular orbital [lower-alpha 1] were introduced by Robert S. Mulliken in 1932 to mean one-electron orbital wave functions. [2] At an elementary level, they are used to describe the region of space in which a function has a significant amplitude.


In an isolated atom, the orbital electrons' location is determined by functions called atomic orbitals. When multiple atoms combine chemically into a molecule, the electrons' locations are determined by the molecule as a whole, so the atomic orbitals combine to form molecular orbitals. The electrons from the constituent atoms occupy the molecular orbitals. Mathematically, molecular orbitals are an approximate solution to the Schrödinger equation for the electrons in the field of the molecule's atomic nuclei. They are usually constructed by combining atomic orbitals or hybrid orbitals from each atom of the molecule, or other molecular orbitals from groups of atoms. They can be quantitatively calculated using the Hartree–Fock or self-consistent field (SCF) methods.

Molecular orbitals are of three types: bonding orbitals which have an energy lower than the energy of the atomic orbitals which formed them, and thus promote the chemical bonds which hold the molecule together; antibonding orbitals which have an energy higher than the energy of their constituent atomic orbitals, and so oppose the bonding of the molecule, and non-bonding orbitals which have the same energy as their constituent atomic orbitals and thus have no effect on the bonding of the molecule.


A molecular orbital (MO) can be used to represent the regions in a molecule where an electron occupying that orbital is likely to be found. Molecular orbitals are approximate solutions to the Schrödinger equation for the electrons in the electric field of the molecule's atomic nuclei. However calculating the orbitals directly from this equation is far too intractable a problem. Instead they are obtained from the combination of atomic orbitals, which predict the location of an electron in an atom. A molecular orbital can specify the electron configuration of a molecule: the spatial distribution and energy of one (or one pair of) electron(s). Most commonly a MO is represented as a linear combination of atomic orbitals (the LCAO-MO method), especially in qualitative or very approximate usage. They are invaluable in providing a simple model of bonding in molecules, understood through molecular orbital theory. Most present-day methods in computational chemistry begin by calculating the MOs of the system. A molecular orbital describes the behavior of one electron in the electric field generated by the nuclei and some average distribution of the other electrons. In the case of two electrons occupying the same orbital, the Pauli principle demands that they have opposite spin. Necessarily this is an approximation, and highly accurate descriptions of the molecular electronic wave function do not have orbitals (see configuration interaction).

Molecular orbitals are, in general, delocalized throughout the entire molecule. Moreover, if the molecule has symmetry elements, its nondegenerate molecular orbitals are either symmetric or antisymmetric with respect to any of these symmetries. In other words, application of a symmetry operation S (e.g., a reflection, rotation, or inversion) to molecular orbital ψ results in the molecular orbital being unchanged or reversing its mathematical sign: Sψ = ±ψ. In planar molecules, for example, molecular orbitals are either symmetric (sigma) or antisymmetric (pi) with respect to reflection in the molecular plane. If molecules with degenerate orbital energies are also considered, a more general statement that molecular orbitals form bases for the irreducible representations of the molecule's symmetry group holds. [4] The symmetry properties of molecular orbitals means that delocalization is an inherent feature of molecular orbital theory and makes it fundamentally different from (and complementary to) valence bond theory, in which bonds are viewed as localized electron pairs, with allowance for resonance to account for delocalization.

In contrast to these symmetry-adapted canonical molecular orbitals, localized molecular orbitals can be formed by applying certain mathematical transformations to the canonical orbitals. The advantage of this approach is that the orbitals will correspond more closely to the "bonds" of a molecule as depicted by a Lewis structure. As a disadvantage, the energy levels of these localized orbitals no longer have physical meaning. (The discussion in the rest of this article will focus on canonical molecular orbitals. For further discussions on localized molecular orbitals, see: natural bond orbital and sigma-pi and equivalent-orbital models.)

Formation of molecular orbitals

Molecular orbitals arise from allowed interactions between atomic orbitals, which are allowed if the symmetries (determined from group theory) of the atomic orbitals are compatible with each other. Efficiency of atomic orbital interactions is determined from the overlap (a measure of how well two orbitals constructively interact with one another) between two atomic orbitals, which is significant if the atomic orbitals are close in energy. Finally, the number of molecular orbitals formed must be equal to the number of atomic orbitals in the atoms being combined to form the molecule.

Qualitative discussion

For an imprecise, but qualitatively useful, discussion of the molecular structure, the molecular orbitals can be obtained from the "Linear combination of atomic orbitals molecular orbital method" ansatz. Here, the molecular orbitals are expressed as linear combinations of atomic orbitals. [5]

Linear combinations of atomic orbitals (LCAO)

Molecular orbitals were first introduced by Friedrich Hund [6] [7] and Robert S. Mulliken [8] [9] in 1927 and 1928. [10] [11] The linear combination of atomic orbitals or "LCAO" approximation for molecular orbitals was introduced in 1929 by Sir John Lennard-Jones. [12] His ground-breaking paper showed how to derive the electronic structure of the fluorine and oxygen molecules from quantum principles. This qualitative approach to molecular orbital theory is part of the start of modern quantum chemistry. Linear combinations of atomic orbitals (LCAO) can be used to estimate the molecular orbitals that are formed upon bonding between the molecule's constituent atoms. Similar to an atomic orbital, a Schrödinger equation, which describes the behavior of an electron, can be constructed for a molecular orbital as well. Linear combinations of atomic orbitals, or the sums and differences of the atomic wavefunctions, provide approximate solutions to the Hartree–Fock equations which correspond to the independent-particle approximation of the molecular Schrödinger equation. For simple diatomic molecules, the wavefunctions obtained are represented mathematically by the equations

where and are the molecular wavefunctions for the bonding and antibonding molecular orbitals, respectively, and are the atomic wavefunctions from atoms a and b, respectively, and and are adjustable coefficients. These coefficients can be positive or negative, depending on the energies and symmetries of the individual atomic orbitals. As the two atoms become closer together, their atomic orbitals overlap to produce areas of high electron density, and, as a consequence, molecular orbitals are formed between the two atoms. The atoms are held together by the electrostatic attraction between the positively charged nuclei and the negatively charged electrons occupying bonding molecular orbitals. [13]

Bonding, antibonding, and nonbonding MOs

When atomic orbitals interact, the resulting molecular orbital can be of three types: bonding, antibonding, or nonbonding.

Bonding MOs:

Antibonding MOs:

Nonbonding MOs:

Sigma and pi labels for MOs

The type of interaction between atomic orbitals can be further categorized by the molecular-orbital symmetry labels σ (sigma), π (pi), δ (delta), φ (phi), γ (gamma) etc. These are the Greek letters corresponding to the atomic orbitals s, p, d, f and g respectively. The number of nodal planes containing the internuclear axis between the atoms concerned is zero for σ MOs, one for π, two for δ, three for φ and four for γ.

σ symmetry

A MO with σ symmetry results from the interaction of either two atomic s-orbitals or two atomic pz-orbitals. An MO will have σ-symmetry if the orbital is symmetric with respect to the axis joining the two nuclear centers, the internuclear axis. This means that rotation of the MO about the internuclear axis does not result in a phase change. A σ* orbital, sigma antibonding orbital, also maintains the same phase when rotated about the internuclear axis. The σ* orbital has a nodal plane that is between the nuclei and perpendicular to the internuclear axis. [14]

π symmetry

A MO with π symmetry results from the interaction of either two atomic px orbitals or py orbitals. An MO will have π symmetry if the orbital is asymmetric with respect to rotation about the internuclear axis. This means that rotation of the MO about the internuclear axis will result in a phase change. There is one nodal plane containing the internuclear axis, if real orbitals are considered.

A π* orbital, pi antibonding orbital, will also produce a phase change when rotated about the internuclear axis. The π* orbital also has a second nodal plane between the nuclei. [14] [15] [16] [17]

δ symmetry

A MO with δ symmetry results from the interaction of two atomic dxy or dx2-y2 orbitals. Because these molecular orbitals involve low-energy d atomic orbitals, they are seen in transition-metal complexes. A δ bonding orbital has two nodal planes containing the internuclear axis, and a δ* antibonding orbital also has a third nodal plane between the nuclei.

φ symmetry

Suitably aligned f atomic orbitals overlap to form phi molecular orbital (a phi bond)

Theoretical chemists have conjectured that higher-order bonds, such as phi bonds corresponding to overlap of f atomic orbitals, are possible. There is no known example of a molecule purported to contain a phi bond.

Gerade and ungerade symmetry

For molecules that possess a center of inversion (centrosymmetric molecules) there are additional labels of symmetry that can be applied to molecular orbitals. Centrosymmetric molecules include:

Non-centrosymmetric molecules include:

If inversion through the center of symmetry in a molecule results in the same phases for the molecular orbital, then the MO is said to have gerade (g) symmetry, from the German word for even. If inversion through the center of symmetry in a molecule results in a phase change for the molecular orbital, then the MO is said to have ungerade (u) symmetry, from the German word for odd. For a bonding MO with σ-symmetry, the orbital is σg (s' + s'' is symmetric), while an antibonding MO with σ-symmetry the orbital is σu, because inversion of s'  s'' is antisymmetric. For a bonding MO with π-symmetry the orbital is πu because inversion through the center of symmetry for would produce a sign change (the two p atomic orbitals are in phase with each other but the two lobes have opposite signs), while an antibonding MO with π-symmetry is πg because inversion through the center of symmetry for would not produce a sign change (the two p orbitals are antisymmetric by phase). [14]

MO diagrams

The qualitative approach of MO analysis uses a molecular orbital diagram to visualize bonding interactions in a molecule. In this type of diagram, the molecular orbitals are represented by horizontal lines; the higher a line the higher the energy of the orbital, and degenerate orbitals are placed on the same level with a space between them. Then, the electrons to be placed in the molecular orbitals are slotted in one by one, keeping in mind the Pauli exclusion principle and Hund's rule of maximum multiplicity (only 2 electrons, having opposite spins, per orbital; place as many unpaired electrons on one energy level as possible before starting to pair them). For more complicated molecules, the wave mechanics approach loses utility in a qualitative understanding of bonding (although is still necessary for a quantitative approach). Some properties:

The general procedure for constructing a molecular orbital diagram for a reasonably simple molecule can be summarized as follows:

1. Assign a point group to the molecule.

2. Look up the shapes of the SALCs.

3. Arrange the SALCs of each molecular fragment in increasing order of energy, first noting whether they stem from s, p, or d orbitals (and put them in the order s < p < d), and then their number of internuclear nodes.

4. Combine SALCs of the same symmetry type from the two fragments, and from N SALCs form N molecular orbitals.

5. Estimate the relative energies of the molecular orbitals from considerations of overlap and relative energies of the parent orbitals, and draw the levels on a molecular orbital energy level diagram (showing the origin of the orbitals).

6. Confirm, correct, and revise this qualitative order by carrying out a molecular orbital calculation by using commercial software. [18]

Bonding in molecular orbitals

Orbital degeneracy

Molecular orbitals are said to be degenerate if they have the same energy. For example, in the homonuclear diatomic molecules of the first ten elements, the molecular orbitals derived from the px and the py atomic orbitals result in two degenerate bonding orbitals (of low energy) and two degenerate antibonding orbitals (of high energy). [13]

Ionic bonds

When the energy difference between the atomic orbitals of two atoms is quite large, one atom's orbitals contribute almost entirely to the bonding orbitals, and the other atom's orbitals contribute almost entirely to the antibonding orbitals. Thus, the situation is effectively that one or more electrons have been transferred from one atom to the other. This is called an (mostly) ionic bond.[ citation needed ]

Bond order

The bond order, or number of bonds, of a molecule can be determined by combining the number of electrons in bonding and antibonding molecular orbitals. A pair of electrons in a bonding orbital creates a bond, whereas a pair of electrons in an antibonding orbital negates a bond. For example, N2, with eight electrons in bonding orbitals and two electrons in antibonding orbitals, has a bond order of three, which constitutes a triple bond.

Bond strength is proportional to bond order—a greater amount of bonding produces a more stable bond—and bond length is inversely proportional to it—a stronger bond is shorter.

There are rare exceptions to the requirement of molecule having a positive bond order. Although Be2 has a bond order of 0 according to MO analysis, there is experimental evidence of a highly unstable Be2 molecule having a bond length of 245 pm and bond energy of 10 kJ/mol. [14] [19]


The highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital are often referred to as the HOMO and LUMO, respectively. The difference of the energies of the HOMO and LUMO is called the HOMO-LUMO gap. This notion is often the matter of confusion in literature and should be considered with caution. Its value is usually located between the fundamental gap (difference between ionization potential and electron affinity) and the optical gap. In addition, HOMO-LUMO gap can be related to a bulk material band gap or transport gap, which is usually much smaller than fundamental gap.[ citation needed ]


Homonuclear diatomics

Homonuclear diatomic MOs contain equal contributions from each atomic orbital in the basis set. This is shown in the homonuclear diatomic MO diagrams for H2, He2, and Li2, all of which containing symmetric orbitals. [14]


Electron wavefunctions for the 1s orbital of a lone hydrogen atom (left and right) and the corresponding bonding (bottom) and antibonding (top) molecular orbitals of the H2 molecule. The real part of the wavefunction is the blue curve, and the imaginary part is the red curve. The red dots mark the locations of the nuclei. The electron wavefunction oscillates according to the Schrodinger wave equation, and orbitals are its standing waves. The standing wave frequency is proportional to the orbital's kinetic energy. (This plot is a one-dimensional slice through the three-dimensional system.) H2OrbitalsAnimation.gif
Electron wavefunctions for the 1s orbital of a lone hydrogen atom (left and right) and the corresponding bonding (bottom) and antibonding (top) molecular orbitals of the H2 molecule. The real part of the wavefunction is the blue curve, and the imaginary part is the red curve. The red dots mark the locations of the nuclei. The electron wavefunction oscillates according to the Schrödinger wave equation, and orbitals are its standing waves. The standing wave frequency is proportional to the orbital's kinetic energy. (This plot is a one-dimensional slice through the three-dimensional system.)

As a simple MO example, consider the electrons in a hydrogen molecule, H2 (see molecular orbital diagram), with the two atoms labelled H' and H". The lowest-energy atomic orbitals, 1s' and 1s", do not transform according to the symmetries of the molecule. However, the following symmetry adapted atomic orbitals do:

1s'  1s"Antisymmetric combination: negated by reflection, unchanged by other operations
1s' + 1s"Symmetric combination: unchanged by all symmetry operations

The symmetric combination (called a bonding orbital) is lower in energy than the basis orbitals, and the antisymmetric combination (called an antibonding orbital) is higher. Because the H2 molecule has two electrons, they can both go in the bonding orbital, making the system lower in energy (hence more stable) than two free hydrogen atoms. This is called a covalent bond. The bond order is equal to the number of bonding electrons minus the number of antibonding electrons, divided by 2. In this example, there are 2 electrons in the bonding orbital and none in the antibonding orbital; the bond order is 1, and there is a single bond between the two hydrogen atoms.[ citation needed ]


On the other hand, consider the hypothetical molecule of He2 with the atoms labeled He' and He". As with H2, the lowest energy atomic orbitals are the 1s' and 1s", and do not transform according to the symmetries of the molecule, while the symmetry adapted atomic orbitals do. The symmetric combination—the bonding orbital—is lower in energy than the basis orbitals, and the antisymmetric combination—the antibonding orbital—is higher. Unlike H2, with two valence electrons, He2 has four in its neutral ground state. Two electrons fill the lower-energy bonding orbital, σg(1s), while the remaining two fill the higher-energy antibonding orbital, σu*(1s). Thus, the resulting electron density around the molecule does not support the formation of a bond between the two atoms; without a stable bond holding the atoms together, the molecule would not be expected to exist. Another way of looking at it is that there are two bonding electrons and two antibonding electrons; therefore, the bond order is 0 and no bond exists (the molecule has one bound state supported by the Van der Waals potential).[ citation needed ]


Dilithium Li2 is formed from the overlap of the 1s and 2s atomic orbitals (the basis set) of two Li atoms. Each Li atom contributes three electrons for bonding interactions, and the six electrons fill the three MOs of lowest energy, σg(1s), σu*(1s), and σg(2s). Using the equation for bond order, it is found that dilithium has a bond order of one, a single bond.[ citation needed ]

Noble gases

Considering a hypothetical molecule of He2, since the basis set of atomic orbitals is the same as in the case of H2, we find that both the bonding and antibonding orbitals are filled, so there is no energy advantage to the pair. HeH would have a slight energy advantage, but not as much as H2 + 2 He, so the molecule is very unstable and exists only briefly before decomposing into hydrogen and helium. In general, we find that atoms such as He that have full energy shells rarely bond with other atoms. Except for short-lived Van der Waals complexes, there are very few noble gas compounds known.[ citation needed ]

Heteronuclear diatomics

While MOs for homonuclear diatomic molecules contain equal contributions from each interacting atomic orbital, MOs for heteronuclear diatomics contain different atomic orbital contributions. Orbital interactions to produce bonding or antibonding orbitals in heteronuclear diatomics occur if there is sufficient overlap between atomic orbitals as determined by their symmetries and similarity in orbital energies.[ citation needed ]


In hydrogen fluoride HF overlap between the H 1s and F 2s orbitals is allowed by symmetry but the difference in energy between the two atomic orbitals prevents them from interacting to create a molecular orbital. Overlap between the H 1s and F 2pz orbitals is also symmetry allowed, and these two atomic orbitals have a small energy separation. Thus, they interact, leading to creation of σ and σ* MOs and a molecule with a bond order of 1. Since HF is a non-centrosymmetric molecule, the symmetry labels g and u do not apply to its molecular orbitals. [20]

Quantitative approach

To obtain quantitative values for the molecular energy levels, one needs to have molecular orbitals that are such that the configuration interaction (CI) expansion converges fast towards the full CI limit. The most common method to obtain such functions is the Hartree–Fock method, which expresses the molecular orbitals as eigenfunctions of the Fock operator. One usually solves this problem by expanding the molecular orbitals as linear combinations of Gaussian functions centered on the atomic nuclei (see linear combination of atomic orbitals and basis set (chemistry)). The equation for the coefficients of these linear combinations is a generalized eigenvalue equation known as the Roothaan equations, which are in fact a particular representation of the Hartree–Fock equation. There are a number of programs in which quantum chemical calculations of MOs can be performed, including Spartan.[ citation needed ]

Simple accounts often suggest that experimental molecular orbital energies can be obtained by the methods of ultra-violet photoelectron spectroscopy for valence orbitals and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for core orbitals. This, however, is incorrect as these experiments measure the ionization energy, the difference in energy between the molecule and one of the ions resulting from the removal of one electron. Ionization energies are linked approximately to orbital energies by Koopmans' theorem. While the agreement between these two values can be close for some molecules, it can be very poor in other cases.[ citation needed ]


  1. Prior to Mulliken, the word "orbital" was used only as an adjective, for example "orbital velocity" or "orbital wave function." [1] Mulliken used orbital as a noun, when he suggested the terms "atomic orbitals" and "molecular orbitals" to describe the electronic structures of polyatomic molecules. [2] [3]

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Energy level</span> Different states of quantum systems

A quantum mechanical system or particle that is bound—that is, confined spatially—can only take on certain discrete values of energy, called energy levels. This contrasts with classical particles, which can have any amount of energy. The term is commonly used for the energy levels of the electrons in atoms, ions, or molecules, which are bound by the electric field of the nucleus, but can also refer to energy levels of nuclei or vibrational or rotational energy levels in molecules. The energy spectrum of a system with such discrete energy levels is said to be quantized.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conjugated system</span> System of connected p-orbitals with delocalized electrons in a molecule

In theoretical chemistry, a conjugated system is a system of connected p-orbitals with delocalized electrons in a molecule, which in general lowers the overall energy of the molecule and increases stability. It is conventionally represented as having alternating single and multiple bonds. Lone pairs, radicals or carbenium ions may be part of the system, which may be cyclic, acyclic, linear or mixed. The term "conjugated" was coined in 1899 by the German chemist Johannes Thiele.

A linear combination of atomic orbitals or LCAO is a quantum superposition of atomic orbitals and a technique for calculating molecular orbitals in quantum chemistry. In quantum mechanics, electron configurations of atoms are described as wavefunctions. In a mathematical sense, these wave functions are the basis set of functions, the basis functions, which describe the electrons of a given atom. In chemical reactions, orbital wavefunctions are modified, i.e. the electron cloud shape is changed, according to the type of atoms participating in the chemical bond.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pi bond</span> Type of chemical bond

In chemistry, pi bonds are covalent chemical bonds, in each of which two lobes of an orbital on one atom overlap with two lobes of an orbital on another atom, and in which this overlap occurs laterally. Each of these atomic orbitals has an electron density of zero at a shared nodal plane that passes through the two bonded nuclei. This plane also is a nodal plane for the molecular orbital of the pi bond. Pi bonds can form in double and triple bonds but do not form in single bonds in most cases.

In chemistry, molecular orbital theory is a method for describing the electronic structure of molecules using quantum mechanics. It was proposed early in the 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sigma bond</span> Covalent chemical bond

In chemistry, sigma bonds are the strongest type of covalent chemical bond. They are formed by head-on overlapping between atomic orbitals. Sigma bonding is most simply defined for diatomic molecules using the language and tools of symmetry groups. In this formal approach, a σ-bond is symmetrical with respect to rotation about the bond axis. By this definition, common forms of sigma bonds are s+s, pz+pz, s+pz and dz2+dz2 . Quantum theory also indicates that molecular orbitals (MO) of identical symmetry actually mix or hybridize. As a practical consequence of this mixing of diatomic molecules, the wavefunctions s+s and pz+pz molecular orbitals become blended. The extent of this mixing depends on the relative energies of the MOs of like symmetry.

In chemistry, bond order, as introduced by Linus Pauling, is defined as the difference between the number of bonds and anti-bonds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Delta bond</span> Type of Chemical Bond

In chemistry, delta bonds are covalent chemical bonds, where four lobes of one involved atomic orbital overlap four lobes of the other involved atomic orbital. This overlap leads to the formation of a bonding molecular orbital with two nodal planes which contain the internuclear axis and go through both atoms.

In molecular physics, the molecular term symbol is a shorthand expression of the group representation and angular momenta that characterize the state of a molecule, i.e. its electronic quantum state which is an eigenstate of the electronic molecular Hamiltonian. It is the equivalent of the term symbol for the atomic case. However, the following presentation is restricted to the case of homonuclear diatomic molecules, or other symmetric molecules with an inversion centre. For heteronuclear diatomic molecules, the u/g symbol does not correspond to any exact symmetry of the electronic molecular Hamiltonian. In the case of less symmetric molecules the molecular term symbol contains the symbol of the group representation to which the molecular electronic state belongs.

The 3-center 4-electron (3c–4e) bond is a model used to explain bonding in certain hypervalent molecules such as tetratomic and hexatomic interhalogen compounds, sulfur tetrafluoride, the xenon fluorides, and the bifluoride ion. It is also known as the Pimentel–Rundle three-center model after the work published by George C. Pimentel in 1951, which built on concepts developed earlier by Robert E. Rundle for electron-deficient bonding. An extended version of this model is used to describe the whole class of hypervalent molecules such as phosphorus pentafluoride and sulfur hexafluoride as well as multi-center π-bonding such as ozone and sulfur trioxide.

The Hückel method or Hückel molecular orbital theory, proposed by Erich Hückel in 1930, is a simple method for calculating molecular orbitals as linear combinations of atomic orbitals. The theory predicts the molecular orbitals for π-electrons in π-delocalized molecules, such as ethylene, benzene, butadiene, and pyridine. It provides the theoretical basis for Hückel's rule that cyclic, planar molecules or ions with π-electrons are aromatic. It was later extended to conjugated molecules such as pyridine, pyrrole and furan that contain atoms other than carbon and hydrogen (heteroatoms). A more dramatic extension of the method to include σ-electrons, known as the extended Hückel method (EHM), was developed by Roald Hoffmann. The extended Hückel method gives some degree of quantitative accuracy for organic molecules in general and was used to provide computational justification for the Woodward–Hoffmann rules. To distinguish the original approach from Hoffmann's extension, the Hückel method is also known as the simple Hückel method (SHM).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antibonding molecular orbital</span> Type of molecular orbital which weakens the chemical bond between two atoms

In chemical bonding theory, an antibonding orbital is a type of molecular orbital that weakens the chemical bond between two atoms and helps to raise the energy of the molecule relative to the separated atoms. Such an orbital has one or more nodes in the bonding region between the nuclei. The density of the electrons in the orbital is concentrated outside the bonding region and acts to pull one nucleus away from the other and tends to cause mutual repulsion between the two atoms. This is in contrast to a bonding molecular orbital, which has a lower energy than that of the separate atoms, and is responsible for chemical bonds.

A molecular orbital diagram, or MO diagram, is a qualitative descriptive tool explaining chemical bonding in molecules in terms of molecular orbital theory in general and the linear combination of atomic orbitals (LCAO) method in particular. A fundamental principle of these theories is that as atoms bond to form molecules, a certain number of atomic orbitals combine to form the same number of molecular orbitals, although the electrons involved may be redistributed among the orbitals. This tool is very well suited for simple diatomic molecules such as dihydrogen, dioxygen, and carbon monoxide but becomes more complex when discussing even comparatively simple polyatomic molecules, such as methane. MO diagrams can explain why some molecules exist and others do not. They can also predict bond strength, as well as the electronic transitions that can take place.

Localized molecular orbitals are molecular orbitals which are concentrated in a limited spatial region of a molecule, such as a specific bond or lone pair on a specific atom. They can be used to relate molecular orbital calculations to simple bonding theories, and also to speed up post-Hartree–Fock electronic structure calculations by taking advantage of the local nature of electron correlation. Localized orbitals in systems with periodic boundary conditions are known as Wannier functions.

A non-bonding orbital, also known as non-bonding molecular orbital (NBMO), is a molecular orbital whose occupation by electrons neither increases nor decreases the bond order between the involved atoms. Non-bonding orbitals are often designated by the letter n in molecular orbital diagrams and electron transition notations. Non-bonding orbitals are the equivalent in molecular orbital theory of the lone pairs in Lewis structures. The energy level of a non-bonding orbital is typically in between the lower energy of a valence shell bonding orbital and the higher energy of a corresponding antibonding orbital. As such, a non-bonding orbital with electrons would commonly be a HOMO.

The dihydrogen cation or hydrogen molecular ion is a cation with formula H+
. It consists of two hydrogen nuclei (protons) sharing a single electron. It is the simplest molecular ion.

The Holstein–Herring method, also called the surface Integral method, or Smirnov's method is an effective means of getting the exchange energy splittings of asymptotically degenerate energy states in molecular systems. Although the exchange energy becomes elusive at large internuclear systems, it is of prominent importance in theories of molecular binding and magnetism. This splitting results from the symmetry under exchange of identical nuclei.

Molecular symmetry in physics and chemistry describes the symmetry present in molecules and the classification of molecules according to their symmetry. Molecular symmetry is a fundamental concept in the application of Quantum Mechanics in physics and chemistry, for example it can be used to predict or explain many of a molecule's properties, such as its dipole moment and its allowed spectroscopic transitions, without doing the exact rigorous calculations. To do this it is necessary to classify the states of the molecule using the irreducible representations from the character table of the symmetry group of the molecule. Among all the molecular symmetries, diatomic molecules show some distinct features and they are relatively easier to analyze.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chemical bonding of water</span>

Water is a simple triatomic bent molecule with C2v molecular symmetry and bond angle of 104.5° between the central oxygen atom and the hydrogen atoms. Despite being one of the simplest triatomic molecules, its chemical bonding scheme is nonetheless complex as many of its bonding properties such as bond angle, ionization energy, and electronic state energy cannot be explained by one unified bonding model. Instead, several traditional and advanced bonding models such as simple Lewis and VSEPR structure, valence bond theory, molecular orbital theory, isovalent hybridization, and Bent's rule are discussed below to provide a comprehensive bonding model for H
, explaining and rationalizing the various electronic and physical properties and features manifested by its peculiar bonding arrangements.

In theoretical chemistry, the bonding orbital is used in molecular orbital (MO) theory to describe the attractive interactions between the atomic orbitals of two or more atoms in a molecule. In MO theory, electrons are portrayed to move in waves. When more than one of these waves come close together, the in-phase combination of these waves produces an interaction that leads to a species that is greatly stabilized. The result of the waves’ constructive interference causes the density of the electrons to be found within the binding region, creating a stable bond between the two species.


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