Total energy of an electron

  • Thread starter AudioFlux
  • Start date
  • #1
58
0
The KE (kinetic energy) of an electron revolving around a nucleus is always positive, and the PE (potential energy) of an electron is negative (except at infinity, where it is zero). Here, I am speaking from the point of view of the Rutherford model. The material from which I am reading from says that the electron will not follow a closed orbit around the nucleus if the TE is positive. Also, I am aware of the fact that the magnitude of PE is twice of that of KE. So it is not surprising why the TE is is negative. But, I do not get the physical significance of negative energy. Can someone please tell me where I am going wrong...Thank you
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
jtbell
Mentor
15,846
4,322
I do not get the physical significance of negative energy.

It means that you have to do positive work on the system (electron + nucleus) to separate it, that is, bring its total energy up to zero. We define the zero-point of energy in this situation to be when the electron and nucleus are "just barely unbound" from each other, infinitely far from each other and at rest.
 
  • #3
58
0
It means that you have to do positive work on the system (electron + nucleus) to separate it, that is, bring its total energy up to zero. We define the zero-point of energy in this situation to be when the electron and nucleus are "just barely unbound" from each other, infinitely far from each other and at rest.

OH! I get it now. Thanks a ton :smile:
 

Related Threads on Total energy of an electron

  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
605
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
931
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
5K
Replies
2
Views
738
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
Top