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explain the process by which light is given off by an atom

Submitted by shan-w on Mon, 09/16/2013 - 20:30

not really sure if its right or not but i was thinking maybe it was loght is given off by an atom when an electron moves from one shell to a lower shell and a specific amount of energy is released in the process.

When a beam of light hits an electron, the electron gets excited and moves to a higher principal energy level. At this point, the atom has absorbed the light energy. However, as this excited state is not a stable situation and the electron must come back down to a lower principal energy level. When the electron comes back down, energy is emitted. This is all illustrated in the following diagram. 

The types of questions you will see for this topic are questions involving the amount of energy that is absorbed or released when the electron is jumping between principal energy levels. You may well be asked how much energy is absorbed when electrons move to higher energy levels, and how much energy is released when electrons move to lower energy levels.

The way that we calculate the amount of energy is with the Rydberg equation. The Rydberg equation is also attached.


Hope this helps,

Michael Rosen

Author of "The Guide to Surviving General Chemistry"

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