Problem: The molecular-orbital diagrams for two- and four-atom linear chains of lithium atoms are shown on the picture below.Choose the correct molecular-orbital diagram for a chain containing six lithium atoms.

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We are being asked to determine the molecular-orbital diagram for a chain containing six lithium atoms.


Recall: In the molecular orbital theory, electrons are seen as being delocalized or spread out over a molecule instead of concentrated in a covalent bond.

  • A bonding orbital is a region of high electron density between nuclei where a bond forms
  • An anti-bonding orbital is a region that has zero electron density (a node) between the nuclei where a bond can’t form.
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Problem Details

The molecular-orbital diagrams for two- and four-atom linear chains of lithium atoms are shown on the picture below.

Choose the correct molecular-orbital diagram for a chain containing six lithium atoms.

A diagram has number of atoms, increasing, on the x-axis, ranging from Li to Li2, Li4, and Li-infinity. On the y-axis is energy, increasing and on the right is band of molecular orbitals from most bonding (filled MOs) to most antibonding (empty MOs). Li is at the midpoint of the y-axis with 1 nucleus and 1 electron (mMOs filled). Li2 has 2 joined nuclei one fourth of the way up the y-axis with two electrons (filled MOs) and two separated nuclei three fourths of the way up the y-axes with no electrons (MOs un-filled). Li4 has four fused nuclei at low energy near the bottom of the y-axis and 2 electrons (MOs filled), 4 nuclei separated into 2 at a slightly higher energy with 2 electrons (MOs filled), four nuclei separated into three at higher energy with no electrons (MOs unfilled) and four nuclei separated into four with no electrons near the top of the y-axes (MOs un-filled). With infinite Li atoms, the filled molecular orbitals form a distinct band from most bonding.

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Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Molecular Orbital Theory concept. You can view video lessons to learn Molecular Orbital Theory . Or if you need more Molecular Orbital Theory practice, you can also practice Molecular Orbital Theory practice problems.

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