Because the total Hamiltonian of a many-electron atom or molecule forms a
mutually commutative set of operators with S2 , Sz , andA = (\u221a1/N!)\u03a3p sp P, the exact
eigenfunctions of H must be eigenfunctions of these operators. Being an eigenfunction of
If the atom or molecule has additional symmetries (e.g., full rotation symmetry for
atoms, axial rotation symmetry for linear molecules and point group symmetry for non-
linear polyatomics), the trial wavefunctions should also conform to these spatial
symmetries. This Chapter addresses those operators that commute with H, Pij, S2, and Sz
and among one another for atoms, linear, and non-linear molecules.
i. The inversion operator i and the three components of the total orbital angular momentum Lz =\u03a3jLz(j), Ly, Lx, as well as the components of the total spin angular momentum Sz, Sx, and Sy for atoms (but not the individual electrons' Lz(j) , Sz(j), etc). Hence, L2, Lz, S2, Sz are the operators we need to form eigenfunctions of, and L, ML, S, and MS are the
ii. Lz =\u03a3jLz(j), as well as the N-electron Sx, Sy, and Szfor linear molecules (also i, if the molecule has a center of symmetry). Hence, Lz, S2, and Sz are the operators we need to form eigenfunctions of, and ML, S, and MS are the "good" quantum numbers; L no longer is!
term to the potential that involves the spin and orbital angular momenta of the electrons), L2, Lz, S2, Sz no longer commute with H. However, Jz = Sz + Lz and J2 = (L+S )2 now do commute with H.
and S-\u03b2 =0. These expressions are examples of the more general relations (these relations are developed in detail in Appendix G) which all angular momentum operators and their eigenstates obey:
In a many-electron system, one must combine the spin functions of the individual
electrons to generate eigenfunctions of the total Sz =\u03a3i Sz(i) ( expressions for Sx =\u03a3i Sx(i)
and Sy =\u03a3i Sy(i) also follow from the fact that the total angular momentum of a collection
of particles is the sum of the angular momenta, component-by-component, of the individual
angular momenta) and total S2 operators because only these operators commute with the
full Hamiltonian, H, and with the permutation operators Pij. No longer are the individual
S2(i) and Sz(i) good quantum numbers; these operators do not commute with Pij.
configuration, the spin state having maximum Sz eigenvalue (which is easy to identify as
shown below and which corresponds to a state with S equal to this maximum Sz
eigenvalue) and then generating states of lower Sz values and lower S values using the
angular momentum raising and lowering operators (S- =\u03a3i S- (i) and
To illustrate, consider a three-electron example with the configuration 1s2s3s.
Starting with the determinant | 1s\u03b12s\u03b13s\u03b1 |, which has the maximum Ms =3/2 and hence
has S=3/2 (this function is denoted |3/2, 3/2>), apply S- in the additive form S- =\u03a3i S-(i) to
generate the following combination of three determinants:
The states with S=3/2 and Ms = -1/2 and -3/2 can be obtained by further application of S- to
|3/2, 1/2> (actually, the Ms= -3/2 can be identified as the "spin flipped" image of the state
with Ms =3/2 and the one with Ms =-1/2 can be formed by interchanging all\u03b1's and\u03b2's in
the Ms = 1/2 state).
are three electrons, so the number of states is 23), the above process has identified proper
combinations which yield the four states with S= 3/2. Doing so consumed the determinants
with Ms =3/2 and -3/2, one combination of the three determinants with MS =1/2, and one
combination of the three determinants with Ms =-1/2. There still remain two combinations
of the Ms =1/2 and two combinations of the Ms =-1/2 determinants to deal with. These
functions correspond to two sets of S = 1/2 eigenfunctions having
Ms = 1/2 and -1/2. Combinations of the determinants must be used in forming the S = 1/2
functions to keep the S = 1/2 eigenfunctions orthogonal to the above S = 3/2 functions
(which is required because S2 is a hermitian operator whose eigenfunctions belonging to
different eigenvalues must be orthogonal). The two independent S = 1/2, Ms = 1/2 states
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