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Electron transition in bohr's model

  1. Feb 16, 2013 #1
    alright, so in bohr's model, an atom's electrons absorb energy and undergo electron transition. it jumps from a lower energy level (orbital) to a higher one.
    in time, the attraction between teh nucleus and the electron will pull the electron back to its original energy state (orbital).

    when this happens, the electron emits its absorbed energy. the magnitude of said energy is equal to the difference between the two energy levels (orbitals) mentioned above.

    that's my understanding of the concept.

    hydrogen will release four different wavelengths. via spectroscopy, they are found to be (rounded):


    how can an atom with a single electron release four different wavelengths of light? with the theory stated above, shouldn't there only be one wavelength released per electron?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2013 #2


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    Those are possible wavelengths in a transition. A single transition will give just one specific wavelength, but usually you observe many atoms and/or many excitations of the same atom(s), so you can see all options (and some more).
  4. Feb 16, 2013 #3

    Simon Bridge

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    The word "hydrogen" in
    refers to the bulk material ... containing many many individual hydrogen atoms. Spectroscopy would use, at least, a glass tube filled with hydrogen gas ... you can also use the Sun.

    It's a bit like how you roll one die once you only get one number but lots of them let you see lots of numbers.
  5. Feb 16, 2013 #4
    thanks. i thought the given example only referred to a single atom viewed in a spectroscope.
    this way is more practical, and makes more sense.
  6. Feb 16, 2013 #5

    Simon Bridge

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    easy mistake to make ;)
    single-atom spectroscopy exists btw - just not for this application.
  7. Feb 16, 2013 #6
    just to confirm - in single atom spectroscopy, if an unknown substance were used, two different wavelengths would indicate that two different electrons had jumped orbitals?
  8. Feb 16, 2013 #7

    Simon Bridge

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    Or one electron had made two jumps...
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