Triplet state

In quantum mechanics, a triplet is a quantum state of a system with a spin of quantum number s=1, such that there are three allowed values of the spin component, ms = −1, 0, and +1.

Spin, in the context of quantum mechanics, is not a mechanical rotation but a more abstract concept that characterizes a particle's intrinsic angular momentum. It is particularly important for systems at atomic length scales, such as individual atoms, protons, or electrons.

Almost all molecules encountered in daily life exist in a singlet state, but molecular oxygen is an exception.[1] At room temperature, O2 exists in a triplet state, which can only undergo a chemical reaction by making the forbidden transition into a singlet state. This makes it kinetically nonreactive despite being thermodynamically one of the strongest oxidants. Photochemical or thermal activation can bring it into the singlet state, which makes it kinetically as well as thermodynamically a very strong oxidant.

In a system with two spin-1/2 particles - for example the proton and electron in the ground state of hydrogen - measured on a given axis, each particle can be either spin up or spin down so the system has four basis states in all

using the single particle spins to label the basis states, where the first arrow and second arrow in each combination indicate the spin direction of the first particle and second particle respectively.

Now the total spin and its projection onto the previously defined axis can be computed using the rules for adding angular momentum in quantum mechanics using the Clebsch–Gordan coefficients. In general

which are symmetric and a fourth state with total spin angular momentum 0:

which is antisymmetric. The result is that a combination of two spin-1/2 particles can carry a total spin of 1 or 0, depending on whether they occupy a triplet or singlet state.