Robert Sanderson Mulliken – developer of molecular orbital theory

Robert Sanderson Mulliken – developer of molecular orbital theory

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst,

Biography & contributions

Robert Sanderson Mulliken [Mr. Molecule] an American physicist and chemist and Nobel laureate born on June 07, 1896 – died on October 31, 1986. Mulliken was considered as developer of molecular orbital theory to explain how atoms combine to form a molecule.

Mulliken was the receiver of great prestigious awards and medals such as Noble prize for molecular orbital theory in the year of 1966, Priestley medal in the year of 1983 and other awards include G. N. Lewis Medal, Peter Debye Award, John Gamble Kirkwood Award, J. Willard Gibbs Medal, G. N. Lewis Medal.

Following are the major works done by mulliken

Mulliken identified a new molecular fragment, boron (v) monoxide, and introduced the concept of zero point energy. He showed that the original electron configurations of atoms are changed into an overall molecular configuration when molecules are formed.

He proposed that the electrons that once belonged to one or another atom became part of an overall molecular structure and lost their atomic identity. He developed correlation diagrams to relate the state of the molecule with the separated atoms and the united atom descriptions.

Mulliken developed the charge-transfer interpretation of spectra of donor-acceptor molecular complexes, calculated spectral intensities, explained the selection rules characterizing transitions in molecular spectra, and worked out the theory of hyper conjugation in organic molecules.

In the year of 1925 he proposed that there are two types of multiplicity in the band spectra of diatomic molecules. In the year of 1927, mulliken along with other chemist Friedrich Hund proposed the Hund-Mulliken method [Hund-Mulliken method: It describes electrons through mathematical functions delocalized over an entire molecule and which has since been expanded as the molecular orbital theory]. In 1934 he proposed the Mulliken scale [Mulliken scale: It calculates average ionization potential and electron affinity].

In the year of 1952, mulliken used quantum mechanical theory to analyze the interaction between Lewis acid and base molecules. In the 1960's, he studied the structure and spectra of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, other small molecules, and complex molecular aggregates.

Molecular Orbital Theory

Molecular orbital theory is a method for determining molecular structure in which electrons are not assigned to individual bonds between atoms, but are treated as moving under the influence of the nuclei in the whole molecule. This theory applies the wave like behavior of electrons as predicted by quantum mechanics.

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