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Retention by atoms of higher than their baseline quantum state.
In other words, the retention by an electron of a higher or larger electron orbital than is seen in the unexcited state (low-energy quantum state or quantum number). This can be achieved by modifying the electron's environment such that low-energy quantum state is no longer available to an atom, which in turn can be achieved by locking an electron into a chemical bond.
Since these electrons are storing energy, they possess potential energy, though that potential energy may be converted to, for example, kinetic energy only if the harboring molecule is manipulated in such a way that a lower-energy quantum state may be attained.
For additional discussion, see [Bioport].
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