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Quantum mechanics hydrogen atom

  1. Jan 29, 2010 #1
    The hydrogen atom is formed by the combination of proton and electron initially separated by infinite distance therefore energy of hydrogen atom is expected to be equal to loss of electrostatic potential energy but energy value as derived by quantum mechanics is different Why is it so
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  3. Jan 29, 2010 #2


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    Well, if what you are saying was strictly true, then the atom wouldn't even be in a bound state by conservation of energy arguments. What happens is that the electron releases some of its energy by radiation, and so becomes trapped in one of the energy levels explained by quantum mechanics. Over time, if there is no additional energy put into the system, the electron will eventually emit enough radiation to end up in the "ground state" (the lowest lying quantum state).
  4. Jan 29, 2010 #3


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    You are ignoring that in the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom, there is a kinetic energy part as well as the potential energy. Your comparison to the change in electrostatic potential ignores any kinetic energy of the electron.

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