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Question about the release of electrons

  1. Jun 21, 2011 #1
    Latley, I have been doing some internet surfing on the release of electrons from their obit of an atom. I just have a few questions. What is it called when electrons are released from their orbit? How much energy does it take? What are the diffrent ways electrons can be released?
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  3. Jun 22, 2011 #2


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    Orbit changes are called quantum jumps. The amount of energy depends on several factors, which atom and the initial and final states.
  4. Jun 22, 2011 #3
    It is called a free electron.

    Each atom requires a different amount of energy to take an electron from it's ground state to a state of zero potential energy, where it is free. The Hydrogen atom is around 13MeV I think. The classical analog of the energy it takes to remove bowling balls from holes of different depth.

    You can release electrons with radiation or friction.
  5. Jun 22, 2011 #4
    The expulsion of an electron completely from an atom (not just exciting it to a higher orbital) is also called "ionization" and as mentioned, the energy required for it depends on the state the electron is in before it is "kicked out" and size of the atom (what element and isotope).

    The most commonly used in Quantum Mechanics is the energy required to ionize a Hydrogen atom from its ground state energy and that is 13.6eV
  6. Jun 23, 2011 #5
    Thanks for the information so far. What is the energy required to release electrons from nitrogen?
  7. Jun 23, 2011 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Google "nitrogen ionization potential"
  8. Jun 23, 2011 #7


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    The model of electrons in simple "orbits" around an atom is not a good one any more. All we can say about an electron in a 'bound state' is that is in a sort of nebulous position, somewhere around the atom (a so called probability density function) and behaves more like a standing wave than an orbiting satellite.

    The energy needed to remove an electron from its bound state will depend very much upon the element. The easiest atoms to ionise are Group One, in the Periodic Table (a single electron in a so-called outer shell), which is screened from the (+)nucleus by all the other, inner (-) electrons. That can be achieved with only a very few Volts of potential.
    Nitrogen will be much higher: Google it.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  9. Jun 23, 2011 #8
    The idea of electron orbitals as a classical analog to what's really going on in the atom is pretty good one as far as most basic ideas and applications are concerned, it's much simpler than a rigorous quantum mechanical description for purposes of talking about ionization, since the principles are the same: if that electron is given enough energy, it will escape the electromagnetic pull of the nucleus.
  10. Jun 23, 2011 #9


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    In as far as it fails to say why we get line spectra from the decay and that the electron doesn't spiral in through radiated energy, I'd say it was a pretty naff model, actually.
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