Overview of molecular forces: The Morse Potential

Oliver Smart
(c) O.S. Smart 1995, all rights reserved
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The Morse Potential

The morse potential is a convenient model for the potential energy of a diatomic molecule. It is much used in spectroscopic applications (reference to Dwek and Campbell needed) as it is possible to solve Schrödinger equation for this system (see Atkins). The functional form of the potential is:

Where the potential energy for bond formation and "a" a parameter controling the width of the potential well. If we plot the function it looks like:

Shown as red line is a harmonic fit to the Morse potential around the equilibrium position: showing how, in this case, Hooke's law can be used as a useful approximation.