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K, L, M electron transitions, x-ray emission lines, conflicting information!

  1. Sep 4, 2011 #1
    So the basic understanding I have of electron transitions for EDX, XES and other x-ray fluorescence techniques is that a transition from:
    L to K shell is named [itex]K\alpha[/itex]
    M to K shell is [itex]K\beta[/itex]
    N to K shell is [itex]K\gamma[/itex]
    M to L shell is [itex]K\alpha[/itex]

    Grand, easy... google leads me to multiple diagrams explaining it like this. But now I have a feeling that's a bit woolly and the real story is more convoluted. The http://xdb.lbl.gov/Section1/Sec_1-2.html" [Broken] which shows [itex]L\beta _{2}[/itex] being an N to L transition and [itex]K\beta _{2}[/itex] being an N to K transition...

    Can anyone explain to me why this is? Is there a physical logic to it or is it just from historical labeling of lines observed?

    Also the last number, say [itex]L\beta _{2}[/itex], what does the 2 refer to? Is it the intensity of the line? The energy position?

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2011 #2

    It's confusing historical notation but people continue to use it anyway. I think in practice the 1, 2, etc. refers to the wavelength ordering of distinct lines, which I believe corresponds to different delta-J values but I won't swear that this is always the case.
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