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ERIC Number: EJ1104123
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jun
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Helping Students Understand the Role of Symmetry in Chemistry Using the Particle-in-a-Box Model
Manae, Meghna A.; Hazra, Anirban
Journal of Chemical Education, v93 n6 p1056-1060 Jun 2016
In a course on chemical applications of symmetry and group theory, students learn to use several useful tools (like character tables, projection operators, and correlation tables), but in the process of learning the mathematical details, they often miss the conceptual big picture about "why" and "how" symmetry leads to the quite dramatic consequences that it does. This pedagogical gap is addressed in this paper by using one of the simplest chemical model systems, the particle in a box, along with a simple symmetry operator, parity, to get a clear understanding of the consequences of symmetry. The analysis of the particle-in-a-box model is extended by analogy to molecules, and connections are made to chemically important concepts like symmetry labels of molecular states, spectroscopic selection rules, and symmetry adapted linear combinations of orbitals.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A