CHM 6470: Chemical Bond and Spectra

Quantum Mechanics deals with the description of matter at the microscopic level. As we try to understand the universe, we realize that in some instances small particles behave as waves, in others, light behaves as particles. If we want to develop a description of chemical systems at the atomic or molecular level, we have to learn to deal with this dual behavior of “particles” and “light.”

In some sense, Planck’s constant defines the granular properties of our universe. If h were to be very large, then we would all behave as waves and interfere with each other (entering a room through a door would be a tough job:-). If h were to be even smaller than what it is, then we could use Newtonian classical mechanics even at the atomic level. But we live in this universe, and all we will try to do is reach some understanding of the microscopic properties of quantum-mechanical systems and how these properties help us understand macroscopic behavior.

As chemists, we use spectroscopy almost every day of our scientific life. We use it to identify the product of a synthesis, to look for impurities, to learn about Nature and her efficient processes, to understand how to construct a device, to control chemical processes … But to interpret all our spectroscopic measurement we have to have first some understanding of the quantum properties of atoms, molecules and how they interact with light. In this class, we will try to learn about Quantum Mechanics from the perspective of a chemist. We will learn the postulates in which it is based and how we can apply it to chemical systems. We will learn about the extent of today’s Quantum Chemistry, and the usefulness of its predictions.

Mastering Quantum Chemistry requires a fresh mind, and readiness to learn new concepts and to look at chemistry from a new perspective. I am here to help you learn and enjoy the basic principles of quantum chemistry. ENJOY THE CLASS!!

Valeria Kleiman