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Chemistry LibreTexts

Ligand Field Theory

Ligand field theory (LFT) describes the bonding, orbital arrangement, and other characteristics of coordination complexes. It represents an application of molecular orbital theory to transition metal complexes. A transition metal ion has nine valence atomic orbitals: five nd, one (n+1)s, and three (n+1)p orbitals. These orbitals are of appropriate energy to form bonding interaction with ligands. The LFT analysis is highly dependent on the geometry of the complex, but most explanations begin by describing octahedral complexes, where six ligands coordinate to the metal.