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General Formula for atomic emission spectra

  1. Aug 8, 2012 #1
    hi everyone!

    does a general Rydberg-like formula exist to predict the emission spectrum wavelengths of any atom?

    if not, why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2012 #2


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    Science Advisor

    No. Apart from hydrogen, atoms are non-trivial quantum many-body systems. Calculating their properties requires an actual numerical calculation of their wave functions, taking all the electron-electron and electron-nucleus interactions into account. Of course, one could maybe get an approximate or fitted formula for transitions of some atoms, which might or might not work well enough for a given application.

    It is really just luck that there is a simple formula for hydrogen. It works because the H system is a two-body system (nucleus and one electron, nothing else) and such systems can be integrated exactly.
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