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September 3rd, 2007
A case where Born-Oppenheimer Approximation breaks down
The Born-Oppenheimer (BO) Approximation is ubiquitous in molecular physics, quantum chemistry and quantum chemistry. However, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) researchers recently observed a breakdown of the Approximation in the reaction of fluorine with deuterium atoms. The result has been published in the August 24 issue of Science.
Proposed in 1927 by Max Born and Julius R. Oppenheimer, the BO approximation suggests that since nuclei are so much more massive than electrons, they must move much more slowly. Hence the motions of the two can be separated (the nuclei can be considered as stationary points around which the electrons move). It is still indispensable in quantum chemistry and used for the establishment of a molecular dynamic model for a simple chemical or physical system.
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