Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 3–26 | Cite as

Atoms and bonds in molecules and chemical explanations

  • Mauro Causá
  • Andreas Savin
  • Bernard SilviEmail author


The concepts of atoms and bonds in molecules which appeared in chemistry during the nineteenth century are unavoidable to explain the structure and the reactivity of the matter at a chemical level of understanding. Although they can be criticized from a strict reductionist point of view, because neither atoms nor bonds are observable in the sense of quantum mechanics, the topological and statistical interpretative approaches of quantum chemistry (quantum theory of atoms in molecules, electron localization function and maximum probability domain) provide consistent definitions which accommodate chemistry and quantum mechanics.


Chemical bond Chemical understanding Chemical models Quantum chemistry Topological methods Statistical interpretation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dip. di ChimicaUniversitá di Napoli Federico IINaplesItaly
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Chimie Théorique (UMR-CNRS 7616)Université Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance

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