Orbitals lack sharply defined surfaces, declining in amplitude exponentially in their surface regions. When two orbitals are brought together, regions of substantial amplitude overlap. The resulting system can be described as two new orbitals, one formed by joining the two original orbitals without introducing a node in the wave function, and the other formed with a node between them. The nodeless joining reduces the energy of the electrons relative to the separate orbitals, resulting in a bonding interaction; joining with a node raises the energy, producing an antibonding interaction. If both new orbitals are occupied, antibonding forces dominate, resulting in overlap repulsion. Molecular mechanics models give an approximate description of overlap (and other) forces for a certain range of atoms and geometries.



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Double bond



Overlap repulsion

Pi bond

Sigma bond

Van der Waals Force


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