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Classification of chemical bonds based on topological analysis of electron localization functions


THE definitions currently used to classify chemical bonds (in terms of bond order, covalency versus ionicity and so forth) are derived from approximate theories1–3 and are often imprecise. Here we outline a first step towards a more rigorous means of classification based on topological analysis of local quantum-mechanical functions related to the Pauli exclusion principle. The local maxima of these functions define 'localization attractors', of which there are only three basic types: bonding, non-bonding and core. Bonding attractors lie between the core attractors (which themselves surround the atomic nuclei) and characterize the shared-electron interactions. The number of bond attractors is related to the bond multiplicity. The spatial organization of localization attractors provides a basis for a well-defined classification of bonds, allowing an absolute characterization of covalency versus ionicity to be obtained from observable properties such as electron densities.

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Silvi, B., Savin, A. Classification of chemical bonds based on topological analysis of electron localization functions. Nature 371, 683–686 (1994).

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