What is molecular orbital theory?

Question:

What is molecular orbital theory?

Models:

In science, and in particular in chemistry the true nature of things is usually quite complex and abstract. As such we tend to use models to explain chemical phenomena such as the chemical bond. Molecular orbital theory is an example of a model that approximates the chemical bond.

Answer and Explanation:

Molecular orbital states that just as electrons in atoms occupy atomic orbitals, electrons in molecules occupy molecular orbitals. Molecular orbitals are formed by the combination of two or more atomic orbitals, and result in a new set of molecular orbitals whose shape and size is derived from the mixing of the composite atomic orbitals. In the combination of two atomic orbitals, two molecular orbitals are formed - a bonding orbital and an antibonding orbital. This is what we are referring to when we speak of a chemical bond.


Learn more about this topic:

Molecular Orbital Theory: Tutorial and Diagrams

from Chemistry 101: General Chemistry

Chapter 5 / Lesson 16
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