Symmetry is associated with the idea that certain geometrical transformations
leave an object unchanged. The geometric operations that do this for molecules
are called symmetry elements or symmetry operations. The set of all symmetry
elements associated with a molecule obeys the properties associated with
a mathematical group so the mathematics of group theory can be applied
to molecules. This math allows us to characterize and label some properties
of molecules such as molecular orbitals or spectroscopic transitions. In
this course, we will use group theory to label molecular orbitals, which
will be used to construct molecular orbital diagrams and understand bonding
in molecules.

4 classes of symmetry elements:

1. inversions

2. rotations

1 + 2 lead to

Point Groups3. translations

1 + 2 + 3 lead to

Space Groups4. time inversion

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 lead to

Magnetic Space Groups

1. Inversion *i*

The signs of the Cartesian coordinates are made negative leaving the object invariant in appearance (absolutely identical)

2. Rotations *C _{n}*

An angular motion of clockwise (by convention) about an axis (the axis

maybe defined in the symmetry element)

special cases: 0^{o}rotation is given the symbol E and acts as the identity element in group theoryCan infinitely small rotation - appropriate for linear molecules_{}

For any givenCoperation, there are n-1 different rotations_{n}C,_{n}C,_{n}^{2}C, ...,_{n}^{3}C_{n}^{n-1}

3. mirrors or planes of symmetry σ

Reflection through a plane that leaves an object invariant

All mirrors are composite symmetry elements - combinations ofiandC_{2}

σ_{xy}=i×C_{2z}

σ_{v}= mirror containing bonds (usually) σ_{d}= mirror between bonds (usually)

σ_{h}= mirror perpendicular to highest rotation axis

4. Improper rotations *S _{n}*

A rotation followed by a mirror perpendicular to the rotation:

S=_{n}C×σ_{n}_{h}

Note thatS=_{2}iandS= σ_{1}

The set of all symmetry elements associated with a molecule is called
the point group.

Each point group can be generated from a smaller set of symmetry operations
known as

generators; we only need to be able to identify the generators in order
to identify the point group. Knowing the point group is essential to using group theory but
also is an indicator of molecular structure!

Summary flow chart for finding Point Groups: