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Energy levels and hydrogen atom

  1. Nov 8, 2014 #1
    if you take a hydrogen atom and strip off the electron so that you are left with a proton. does the proton have energy levels around it? can a solitary proton still be regarded as an atom (H+)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    No. It is the system proton+electron that posesses discrete quantized bound states.

    It depends in what regards. From the point of view of physics, the answer is most probably no. I don't think the people at CERN think they are colliding atoms when they are colliding protons. But for chemists, H+ has many of the same characteristics of other singly-ionized atoms, and is to be treated as a cation when considering chemical reaction.
  4. Nov 14, 2014 #3
    so the energy levels emerge only when the electron and the proton interact. are the energy levels a result of the fact that the electron and proton charges are quantized?. Is that like when iron fillings and magnetic field interact and produce field lines?(analogy only, completely different phenomenon)
  5. Nov 14, 2014 #4


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    In the first approximation, the enegy levels of the H-atom are due to the electrostatic interaction between a proton and an electron as electrically charged particles, with these 2 particles seen through the eyes of quantum mechanics, while the interaction between them is in terms of classical electromagnetism (electrostatics).
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