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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 2 (2006) pp 67-76

The Uncertainty Principle and Covalent Bonding

Guy Ashkenazi*,† and Ronnie Kosloff

Department of Science Teaching and Fritz Haber Research Center, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel,
Received July 31, 2005. Accepted November 2, 2005.

Published online: 16 March 2006

Abstract. A conceptually correct model for covalent bonding, suitable for teaching at the undergraduate general chemistry level, is presented. The quantum mechanical basis for the stability of the covalent bond can be derived from a qualitative discussion of the uncertainty principle, which relates the electron’s spatial confinement to its kinetic energy. The qualitative discussion is backed by quantitative data obtained from the analytical quantum mechanical solution of the H2+ molecule. In addition, the stability of molecules is used as a tangible background against which the inferences emerging from the philosophical debate between classical determinism and the Copenhagen interpretation can be tested.

Key Words: In the Classroom; physical chemistry; quantum

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: April 1, 2006

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