# Energy levels in a potential well

• physmile

#### physmile

I know this question seems very simple which is why its bugging me so much:
Why is the ground state energy not zero?
A simple answer would be greatly appreciated

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physmile said:
I know this question seems very simple which is why its bugging me so much:
Why is the ground state energy not zero?
A simple answer would be greatly appreciated

Energy states are defined with principle quantum number (n). n= 1,2,3...

$$E_{n}= \frac{-me^{4}}{2h^{2}n^{2}}$$

"Ground state" means 1st term in serie of "n" and it's 1.

You may ask, why doesn't "n" start from zero? When you put 0 for n, energy goes to infinite and that mean electron separated from atom. That's why n doesn't start from zero.

And finally your question, there is allways a energy in an atom because of the Coloumb potential. The energy never been zero.

Only changes in energy are physical. You can define the ground state of any particular system to have zero energy.

Thank you very much for your help torehan!