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13: Molecular Rotation and Vibration

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    Treating the full internal nuclear-motion dynamics of a polyatomic molecule is complicated. It is conventional to examine the rotational movement of a hypothetical "rigid" molecule as well as the vibrational motion of a non-rotating molecule, and to then treat the rotation-vibration couplings using perturbation theory.

    • 13.1: Rotational Motions of Rigid Molecules
      In Chapter 3 and Appendix G the energy levels and wavefunctions that describe the rotation of rigid molecules are described. Therefore, in this Chapter these results will be summarized briefly and emphasis will be placed on detailing how the corresponding rotational Schrödinger equations are obtained and the assumptions and limitations underlying them.
    • 13.2: Vibrational Motion Within the Harmonic Approximation
      The simple harmonic motion of a diatomic molecule will not be repeated here. Instead, emphasis is placed on polyatomic molecules whose electronic energy's dependence on the 3N Cartesian coordinates of its N atoms can be written (approximately) in terms of a Taylor series expansion about a stable local minimum. We therefore assume that the molecule of interest exists in an electronic state for which the geometry being considered is stable (i.e., not subject to spontaneous geometrical distortion).
    • 13.3: Anharmonicity
      The electronic energy of a molecule, ion, or radical at geometries near a stable structure can be expanded in a Taylor series in powers of displacement coordinates as was done in the preceding section of this Chapter. This expansion leads to a picture of uncoupled harmonic vibrational energy levels.

    Thumbnail: A model visualizing molecular vibrations. Two atoms are connected by a spring to account for the flexibility of the bond. (CC SA-BY 3.0; Tby11)

    This page titled 13: Molecular Rotation and Vibration is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jack Simons via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.