How Did Friedrich Hund Contribute to the Atomic Theory?


Jane Flores

Friedrich Hund was a German physicist who made significant contributions to the field of atomic theory. He is best known for his work on molecular orbitals and the electronic structure of atoms. In this article, we will explore his life, his work, and how he contributed to the development of atomic theory.

Early Life and Education

Friedrich Hund was born on February 4, 1896, in Karlsruhe, Germany. He studied physics at the University of Frankfurt and received his doctorate in 1922 under the supervision of James Franck. After completing his doctorate, he worked at various universities in Germany before joining the faculty at the University of Jena in 1927.

Contribution to Atomic Theory

Hund’s most notable contribution to atomic theory was his work on molecular orbitals. In 1927, he published a paper that introduced what is now known as Hund’s rule. This rule describes how electrons are distributed among different orbitals in a molecule.

According to Hund’s rule, when electrons occupy orbitals of equal energy (degenerate orbitals), they will first fill each orbital singly with parallel spins before pairing up with opposite spins. This results in the maximum number of unpaired electrons with parallel spins and gives rise to magnetic properties.

Hund’s rule played a crucial role in understanding chemical bonding and predicting molecular properties. It also helped explain why some molecules have magnetic properties while others do not.

In addition to his work on molecular orbitals, Hund also made significant contributions to understanding the electronic structure of atoms. He proposed a method for calculating atomic spectra that involved using group theory to analyze the symmetry properties of atoms.

Awards and Honors

Hund received many awards and honors during his lifetime for his contributions to physics. In 1953, he was awarded the Max Planck Medal for his work on molecular orbitals. He was also a member of several prestigious scientific societies, including the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.


Friedrich Hund was a pioneering physicist who made significant contributions to our understanding of atomic theory. His work on molecular orbitals and the electronic structure of atoms have had a lasting impact on the field of chemistry and physics.

Hund’s rule remains an essential concept in predicting molecular properties and understanding chemical bonding. His legacy continues to inspire future generations of physicists and scientists.