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ERIC Number: EJ921600
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Introducing Relativity into Quantum Chemistry
Li, Wai-Kee; Blinder, S. M.
Journal of Chemical Education, v88 n1 p71-73 Jan 2011
It is not often realized by chemists that the special theory of relativity is behind several aspects of quantum chemistry. The Schrdinger equation itself is based on relations between space-time and energy-momentum four vectors. Electron spin is, of course, the most obvious manifestation of relativity. The chemistry of some heavy elements is influenced by relativistic effects, for example, the nobility of gold and the liquidity of mercury. A relativistic argument can be invoked to explain away the existence of nodes in wavefunctions. This article is an attempt to present these effects on a purely qualitative level, accessible even to first-year college students. Other issues that this article touches on include the existence of antimatter and the relativistic particle-in-a-box problem.
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
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A