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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 5 Issue 3 (2000) pp 113-119

The Dirac (Bracket) Notation in the Undergraduate Physical Chemistry Curriculum: A Pictorial Introduction

Farooq A. Khan* and John E. Hansen

Department of Chemistry, State University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118

Published online: 1 June 2000

Abstract. The Dirac (bracket) notation is ubiquitous in the chemical literature, but it is rarely introduced in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. In this article we present a pictorial approach to the bracket notation that we have successfully used for the past three years in a junior-senior-level physical chemistry course. We have found that it requires roughly 75 minutes to introduce this topic, and, upon integration into subsequent discussions, it prepares our undergraduate students to routinely use this powerful tool in the study of chemical bonding and spectroscopy. We believe that this approach, when introduced after the traditional integral treatment, enhances student learning of the abstract subject of quantum mechanics.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; quantum mechanics

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (195 KB) HTML format

Issue date: June 1, 2000

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