Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

Energy Is Everything

What types of energy levels exist in molecules?

There are three main types of energy levels that physical chemists are concerned with. These are electronic, vibrational, and rotational energies. Changes in electronic energy levels occur when an electron undergoes a transition from one molecular orbital to another. Vibrational energy levels are associated with vibrations of chemical bonds in the molecule, and rotational energy levels involve the molecule rotating in space. As you could probably guess, atoms don’t have vibrational energy levels since there aren’t chemical bonds present in single atoms. Physical chemists can often learn about the structure and reactivity of molecules by studying the transitions between these energy levels.


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