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Quantum Mechanics$
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P.J.E. Peebles

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209821

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209821.001.0001

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Atomic and Molecular Structure

Atomic and Molecular Structure

(p.323) Chapter 6 Atomic and Molecular Structure
Quantum Mechanics

P.J.E. Peebles

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses some applications drawn from atomic and molecular structure. It deals with the structures of the lighter atoms and the simplest molecule, molecular hydrogen. The main approximation method used here is the energy variational principle, which is a powerful technique for computing the low-lying energies of a system such as an atom or molecule. The chapter then introduces the Pauli exclusion principle, which governs the symmetry of the state vector for a system of identical particles such as electrons. Two general features of the exclusion principle are worth noting. First, although the spins make only a very weak contribution to the Hamiltonians for helium, the lowest energy state with spin one is above the spin zero ground state, which is a considerable difference. Second, an electron arriving as a cosmic ray particle from a distant galaxy has to have a wave function antisymmetric with respect to the local electrons, even though the new electron has been away from us for a long time.

Keywords:   atomic structure, molecular structure, molecular hydrogen, energy variational principle, Pauli exclusion principle, symmetry, electrons, helium, low-lying energies

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