How
can we combine the 1s atomic orbitals from two atoms to obtain two
molecular orbitals? Recall that the electron density or probability
clouds that we have been using are the squares of wave functions,
which came out of quantum theory. It is these wave functions, not
the probability clouds themselves, that are combined into molecular
orbitals. The probability clouds always are positive (probabilities
for anything only can be positive or zero), but different parts
of the wave functions can have positive or negative signs. These
signs are important in deciding whether and how a given pair of
AO's can be combined. There are two ways of combining two 1s atomic
orbitals in the hydrogenlike molecules: with the same sign on the
two wave functions, or with opposite signs. This amounts to adding
the two wave functions or subtracting one from the other, which
leads to the electron densities shown at the right. If the wave
functions are added, the resulting molecular orbital has a pileup
of electron density between the nuclei. When a pair of electrons
is placed in this orbital, the negative charge on the electrons
attracts both nuclei, and shields each nucleus from repulsion by
the other. This is the electron- pair bond introduced in Chapter
4. This (ls~
+ Is)
MO is called a bonding orbital because electrons placed in it help
to hold the nuclei together. Two electrons in such a bonding orbital
are more stable (lower energy) than one electron in each of the
two isolated atomic orbitals.