5.80 Small-Molecule Spectroscopy and Dynamics

Fall 2008

Toy top, tilted while spinning
For a rigid rotor, the symmetric top spectrum corresponds to that which would be predicted from the classical mechanics of the rotation of a symmetric spinning top. (Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Jenny Spadafora.)

Course Description

The goal of this course is to illustrate the spectroscopy of small molecules in the gas phase: quantum mechanical effective Hamiltonian models for rotational, vibrational, and electronic structure; transition selection rules and relative intensities; diagnostic patterns and experimental methods for the assignment of non-textbook spectra; breakdown of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation (spectroscopic perturbations); the stationary phase approximation; nondegenerate and quasidegenerate perturbation theory (van Vleck transformation); qualitative molecular orbital theory (Walsh diagrams); the notation of atomic and molecular spectroscopy.
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Prof. Robert Field

Course Meeting Times

3 sessions / week
1 hour / session