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Hydrogen atom. Simple question I think.

  1. May 8, 2013 #1
    When you solving Sroedinger eq for hydrogen atom you get energy values ##E_n\approx \frac{1}{n^2}##. Why for some value of this energy electron don't leave atom?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Because the minimum energy needed to remove the electron, the ionization energy, is obtained from
    IE = \lim_{n \rightarrow \infty} E_n

    Another way to put it is that you have an infinite number of bound states, where the total energy (kinetic + potential) is lower than the energy necessary to remove the electron.
  4. May 8, 2013 #3
    Maybe because a square wave is not a solution to the equation.
  5. May 9, 2013 #4


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    Science Advisor

    The bound states have negative (!) energies ##E_n\approx -\frac{1}{n^2}##

    The (continuum) scattering states have positive energies; they correspond to umbound electrons.
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