In Infrared spectroscopy, stretches are easily understandable. But, how do I visualize (or conceptually understand) the difference between dihedral (torsions), out of plane bends, coplanar bends, and perpendicular bends? Can you give examples?
A molecule with N atoms has 3N degrees of freedom
3 translational modes
if it is linear, it will have 2 rotational modes; if non-linear 3
These leaves 3N-6 (3N-5 if linear) vibrational modes. Vibrational modes are further subdivided into stretching, bending or torsional motions.
- Stretching motions can be symmetric or asymmetric
- Bending motions are often referred to as scissoring, twisting, wagging, and rocking
- Torsional motions refer to rotations about bonds
This diagram illustrates these various stretching and bending vibrations
Depending on the geometric relationship between the transition moment for a specific vibrational mode and the symmetry axis for the mode, vibrational modes may be further classified as parallel or perpendicular.
Here is a link to a 31 page article (slide show) that has a lot of background and pictures on this subject. Section 4.11 (page 19) might be particularly interesting to you.
One final example that you might be interested in, formaldehyde has 4 atoms and is non-linear so it will have 6 vibrational modes. These are all pictured on page 2 in this link.