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How do atoms with low energy orbitals posses high energy electrons?

  1. Oct 1, 2013 #1
    In the case of an atom of Cesium ejecting an electron, it would lose one electron from the 6s orbital. The 6s orbital is very high in energy and similarly so would the electron that is ejected from it, right?

    So if there was a Nitrogen atom as well, how would it be possible that the Nitrogen accepts this electron of such high energy when its highest ground state sublevel is 2p. I would assume the electron loses energy in the transfer process but how exactly? The electron affinity in terms of enthalpy change for Nitrogen is positive, so I would assume energy is put in, but how can the energy change from a 6s orbital to 2p actually be calculated to determine if the necessary amount of energy was lost in this process?

    Also, is it wrong to assume that an electron ejected from a 6s orbital still has high energy? Or does the energy of the electron change completely once it is out of the atom?

    Any comments on where the electron's energy went and how an electron from the 6s orbital in Cesium (or higher from other atoms) can be contained in a Nitrogen atom would be greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2013 #2


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    The ejection of an electron requires the expenditure of energy; a photon above the ionization energy could eject an electron. The energy of the electron that has been ejected will be the energy of the photon minus the ionization energy ... it could be a fraction of an eV.

    If you use a GeV photon your ejected electron will be a GeV electron minus noise.
  4. Oct 1, 2013 #3
    Okay. But doesn't the electron also have energy from being in the 6s orbital, like all electrons? Although some energy is expended to eject the electron from Cesium, how could a Nitrogen atom hold such a high energy electron?
  5. Oct 2, 2013 #4
    The energy of an electron in an orbital is negative compared to the energy of a free electron.
    An outer electron of cesium only has a high energy compared to an inner electron of caesium, but it does not have a high energy compared to an outer electron of nitrogen.
  6. Oct 3, 2013 #5


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    If you assume that the electron taken from Cs is "accepted" directly by nitrogen, you also assume this is a reaction with ΔH = 0 - neither exo- nor endothermic. How do you think, is it true?

    Also - check what the ionization energy of cesium is and compare it to ionization energy of - say - potassium. Are you still sure 6s electrons have so high energy?
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