Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 201-211

First online:

Quantum Mechanics and Molecular Design in the Twenty First Century

  • Mark EberhartAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry and Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines

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It is argued that the conventional descriptions of chemical bonds as covalent, ionic, metallic, and Van der Waals are compromising the usefulness of quantum mechanics in the synthesis and design of new molecules and materials. Parallels are drawn between the state of chemistry now and when the idea that phlogiston was an element impeded the development of chemistry. Overcoming the current obstacles will require new methods to describe molecular structure and bonding, just as new concepts were needed before the phlogiston theory could be set aside.