Just as the charge distribution of a molecule is better described by multipoles distributed around the molecule rather than all at one point, so the polarizability of a molecule is better described by distributed rather than central polarizabilities. The treatment is more complicated, however, because polarization of one atom in a molecule changes its local multipole moments and induces additional electric fields that polarize other atoms. Ways to handle this problem are discussed, including ways of defining local polarizabilities that incorporate the secondary polarization effects. This approach also leads to a justification of the local atom—atom dispersion model that is almost universally used for large molecules.
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