Small-Molecule Spectroscopy and Dynamics

Toy top, tilted while spinning

For a rigid rotor, the symmetric top spectrum corresponds to that which would be predicted from the classical mechanics of the rotation of a symmetric spinning top. (Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Jenny Spadafora.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2008



Cite This Course

Course Features

Course Description

The goal of this course is to illustrate the spectroscopy of small molecules in the gas phase: quantum mechanical effective Hamiltonian models for rotational, vibrational, and electronic structure; transition selection rules and relative intensities; diagnostic patterns and experimental methods for the assignment of non-textbook spectra; breakdown of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation (spectroscopic perturbations); the stationary phase approximation; nondegenerate and quasidegenerate perturbation theory (van Vleck transformation); qualitative molecular orbital theory (Walsh diagrams); the notation of atomic and molecular spectroscopy.

Other OCW Versions

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Robert Field. 5.80 Small-Molecule Spectroscopy and Dynamics, Fall 2008. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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