Introduction to MO Theory

  • Michael J. S. Dewar
  • Ralph C. Dougherty


The hydrogen atom consists of two particles, a proton with a positive charge ( + e) and an electron with negative charge (-e), moving around one another under the influence of their mutual electrostatic attraction. Since this attraction obeys the same inverse square law as gravitational attraction, the system should, according to classical mechanics, be analogous to, e.g., the earth moon system; the proton and electron should move around their common center of gravity in circles or ellipses. Since the proton is nearly two thousand times heavier than the electron, we can to all intents and purposes regard the electron as moving in the field of a fixed positive charge since the center of gravity of the system will lie so close to the proton. In other words, the electron should move in a circular or elliptic orbit with the proton at the center or at one focus (Fig. 1.1).


Photoelectron Spectrum Atomic Orbital Orbital Picture Interelectronic Repulsion Bonding Molecular Orbital 
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Selected Reading

Two general elementary-level introductory books to MO theory with, respectively, inorganic and organic chemical biases are

  1. H. B. Gray, Electrons and Chemical Bonding, W. A. Benjamin, New York, 1965.Google Scholar
  2. A. Liberles, Introduction to Molecular Orbital Theory, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1966.Google Scholar

For introductory material at a more advanced level, see

  1. M. J. S. Dewar, The Molecular Orbital Theory of Organic Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1969.Google Scholar
  2. S. R. Lapaglia, Introduction to Quantum Chemistry, Harper & Row, New York, 1971.Google Scholar
  3. F. L. Pilar, Elementary Quantum Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1968.Google Scholar


  1. 1.
    B. P. Pullen, T. A. Carlson, W. E. Moddeman, G. K. Schweizer, W. E. Bull, and F. A. Grimm, J. Chem. Phys. 53, 768 (1970).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. W. Turner, C. Baker, A. D. Baker, and C. R. Bundle, Molecular Photo-electron Spectroscopy, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1970.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. S. Dewar
    • 1
  • Ralph C. Dougherty
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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