Higher bound state

1. Jun 17, 2012

njl86

"higher" bound state

just a quick question on terminology..

if something has a higher binding energy, can it be said to be in a higher bound state?

thanks

2. Jun 17, 2012

nucl34rgg

Re: "higher" bound state

I think the convention is the opposite. The higher the binding energy, the more stable the state, the lower the potential energy of that state. Thus, it is in a "lower bound state." Example: imagine a hydrogen atom with an electron in the ground state. Now, it is at low potential energy. Thus, it is very stable and it is at higher binding energy. It would take more energy to fully ionize this atom than if the electron were initially at n=3 shell, for example. (Most of the work has been done for you when n=3, and you only need to add a little more energy to ionize the atom because the electron is already at higher potential energy!)

3. Jun 17, 2012

M Quack

Re: "higher" bound state

I would also interpret a "higher bound state" as a bound state with higher energy, i.e. lower binding energy.