Definition of Molecular Orbital

A molecular orbital explains the location of an electron in a molecule as well as the wave-like behavior of that electron. It is a mathematical function that is used to find the probability or possibility of an electron in any particular region. Hence, this function can be used to determine the chemical and physical properties. When there is an isolated atom, the term “Atomic Orbitals” is used to determine the location of an electron. Whereas, when several atoms combine, the electrons belonging to all atoms then occupy molecular orbitals.


There are three types of molecular orbital i.e. bonding orbitals, anti-bonding orbitals, and non-bonding orbitals. The energy of bonding orbitals is lower than that of the atomic orbitals which have formed them. In antibonding orbitals, the energy is higher than that of the atomic orbitals which have formed them and there is no energy difference between atomic and molecular orbitals in the case of non-bonding orbitals.

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