Chemical Bonding By Electronic Symmetry Breaking

by Tommy on 24/05/2017

This is a hugely important paper for me.

The chemical bond as an emergent phenomenon, Jon C. Golden, Vinh Ho and Vassiliy Lubchenko, The Journal of Chemical Physics, Vol. 146, 174502 (23 May 2017), DOI:10.1063/1.4982707

We first argue that the covalent bond and the various closed-shell interactions can be thought of as symmetry broken versions of one and the same interaction, viz., the multi-center bond. We use specially chosen molecular units to show that the symmetry breaking is controlled by density and electronegativity variation. We show that the bond order changes with bond deformation but in a step-like fashion, regions of near constancy separated by electronic localization transitions. These will often cause displacive transitions as well so that the bond strength, order, and length are established self-consistently. We further argue on the inherent relation of the covalent, closed-shell, and multi-center interactions with ionic and metallic bonding. All of these interactions can be viewed as distinct sectors on a phase diagram with density and electronegativity variation as control variables; the ionic and covalent/secondary sectors are associated with on-site and bond-order charge density wave respectively, the metallic sectorwith an electronic fluid. While displaying a contiguity at low densities, the metallic and ionic interactions represent distinct phases separated by discontinuous transitions at sufficiently high densities. Multi-center interactions emerge as a hybrid of the metallic and ionic bond that results from spatial coexistence of delocalized and localized electrons. In the present description, the issue of the stability of a compound is that of mutual miscibility of electronic fluids with distinct degrees of electron localization, supra-atomic ordering in complex inorganic compounds comes about naturally. The notions of electronic localization advanced hereby suggest a high throughput, automated procedure for screening candidate compounds and structures with regard to stability, without the need for computationally costly geometric optimization.

This is vindication enough for me.

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