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What does it mean for energy absorbed and released for atom?

  1. Feb 14, 2015 #1
    I was wondering, in the context of electron excitation and electron affinity, what it meant when we say that the electron absorbed energy or released energy.

    I think for electron excitation, the photon's energy, which is in the form of work= force time distance from the photon particle is absorbed to the electron. Then as the electron falls back down, for some odd reason of the universe, it releases another photon with the same work.

    For electron affinity, I believe that putting an electron in the atom for an atom that wants electrons will release energy in the form of work(heat), whereas an atom that does not want electrons, we have to force the atom to absorb the electron's work.

    Thanks PhysicsForums!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2015 #2


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    I don't really understand what your question was meant to be.
    When the atom is hit by photons, one possibility is that the electron will absorb a photon (and so all the photon's energy) and get to an excited energy state. Then the electron will prefer to drop its energy to reach a less-energetic and more stable state. The difference to its energy transitions will be an emitted photon.
    I don't understand why would you put "force *distance" in the game, since it's a very bad thing to do. It's better to look at it at steps with energy conservation (and maybe angular momenta and spins).
    In the affinity case, you can work almost in the same way.
    The energy is released with radiation (photons).
  4. Feb 16, 2015 #3
    Thanks ChrisVer! This clarified my confusion.
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