Relativistic Quantum Chemistry

Relativistic quantum chemistry invokes quantum chemical and relativistic mechanical arguments to explain elemental properties and structure, especially for heavy elements of the periodic table.

The term "relativistic effects" was developed in light of the history of quantum mechanics. Initially quantum mechanics was developed without considering the theory of relativity. By convention, "relativistic effects" are those discrepancies between values calculated by models considering and not considering relativity. "Heavy elements" in this context refers to high atomic number elements in the later part of the periodic table where relativistic effects are important. Examples are elements found in the lanthanide and actinide series.

Relativistic effects in chemistry can be considered to be perturbations, or small corrections, to the non-relativistic theory of chemistry, which is developed from the solutions of the Schrödinger equation. These corrections have differential effects on the electrons in various atomic orbitals within the atom, according to the speed of these electrons relative to the speed of light. Relativistic effects are more prominent in heavy elements, because only in these elements do electrons attain relativistic speeds.

Read more about Relativistic Quantum Chemistry:  History, Qualitative Treatment, Periodic Table Deviations

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