An Introduction to the Electronic Structure of Atoms and Molecules

Dr. Richard F.W. Bader 
Professor of Chemistry / McMaster University / Hamilton, Ontario

1.  The Nature of the Problem
2. The New Physics
  A Contrast of the Old and New Physics
  Probability Amplitudes
  Further Reading
3.  The Hydrogen Atom
4.  Many-Electron Atoms
5.  Electronic Basis for the Properties of the Elements
6.  The Chemical Bond
7.  Ionic and Covalent Binding
8.  Molecular Orbitals
Table of Contour Values

The New Physics

    Now that we have studied some of the properties of electrons and light and have seen that their behaviour cannot be described by classical mechanics, we shall introduce some of the important concepts of the new physics, quantum mechanics, which does predict their behaviour. For the study of chemistry, we are most interested in what the new mechanics has to say about the properties of electrons whose motions are in some manner confined, for example, the motion of an electron which is bound to an atom by the attractive force of the nucleus. An atom, even the hydrogen atom, is a relatively complicated system because it involves motion in three dimensions. We shall consider first an idealized problem in just one dimension, that of an electron whose motion is confined to a line of finite length. We shall state the results given by quantum mechanics for this simple system and contrast them with the results given by classical mechanics for a similar  system, but for a particle of much larger mass. Later, we shall indicate  the manner in which the quantum mechanical predictions are obtained for a system.