Pertaining to the spatial relationships of atoms in a molecular structure, and in particular, to the space-filling properties of a molecule. If molecules were rigid and had hard surfaces, steric properties would merely be an opaque way of saying "shape"; a flexible side-chain, however, has definite steric properties but no fixed shape. Nanomechanical systems make extensive use of the steric properties of relatively rigid molecules, for which the term "shape" has essentially its conventional meaning so long as one remembers that the surface interactions are soft on small length-scales.






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Sigma bond

Sol-gel chemistry


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