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Animation by Windows to the Universe staff (Randy Russell).

Molecules Vibrate

Molecules vibrate. Molecules that have just two atoms vibrate by simply moving closer together and then further apart. The nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) molecules in the animation are vibrating in this simple mode.

Molecules with 3 or more atoms can vibrate in more complex patterns. A single molecule can vibrate in various ways; each of these different motions is called a vibration "mode". Carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules have three different vibration modes, as illustrated on the right side of the animation.

Last modified February 1, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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