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Variational method For Helium Atom

  1. Mar 5, 2015 #1
    When using the variational method for the Helium atom, we determine that the lowest possible energy occurs when 1<z<2 where z is the atomic number. My professor elaborated that the number is within this range because there is a probability that the electron may be so close to one of the protons that it appears as if there are only two protons. My question is why can't 0<z<1? Why can't both electrons be located inside the nucleus of the atom? Would it still be possible to distinguish them if they were?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2015 #2


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    Science Advisor

    I suppose z is the effective nuclear charge seen by an electron, ie the nuclear charge scrreened by the other electron. This can t be smaller than 1.
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