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Why are Antibonding Orbitals Higher in Energy

Antibonding orbitals are higher in energy, since between the two nuclei there is less electron density. Upon out-of-phase orbital overlap, which is disruptive interference, antibonding orbitals form. Owing to the conservation of atomic orbitals, they often form alongside bonding orbitals.

As the atomic orbitals in the molecular orbital are in-phase the bonding orbital is lower in energy than the initial atomic orbitals. Since the atomic orbitals are out-of-phase the antibonding orbital is larger in energy than the initial atomic orbitals.

Since they are between the nuclei, electrons in bonding orbitals balance the molecule. Since they are similar to the nuclei, they therefore have lower energy. Less electron density is imposed between the nuclei by antibonding orbitals. The nuclear repulsions are stronger, so the molecule’s energy increases.

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