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Energy eigenstates

  1. Oct 14, 2011 #1
    Can an electron in a hydrogen atom every been in an energy eigenstate?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2011 #2

    dextercioby

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    Well, I'm trying to get something from your inaccurate English wording and give you this answer: typically, it's very unlikely to meet a single, isolated H-atom. Usually H-atoms, when more than 1, tend to couple with each other and form a diatomic stable molecule. The energy eigenstates (point spectrum) of the single atom are not energy eigenstates of the molecular Hamiltonian anymore. What chemists call the sigma covalent bond between the 2 H atoms is not that strong and this molecule can react with other molecules, when certain exterior (pressure & temperature) conditions are met.
     
  4. Oct 15, 2011 #3
    Sorry about my english. I had meant to ask whether an electron in a hydrogen atom can *ever* be in an energy eigenstate ie whether an electron can exist in a single orbital alone. Ifr the question still doesn't make sense, then I've probably gone and confused myself about something...
     
  5. Oct 15, 2011 #4

    dextercioby

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    The electron is only one, so it can occupy any energy level it wants to.
     
  6. Oct 16, 2011 #5
    Well, if you take a Hydrogen atom, isolated from everything else (in terms of interaction) and then measure the electron's energy, it will be in an energy eigenstate after the measurement.
     
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