This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By the early 1900s, scientists had made the following observations:
When a sample of gaseous atoms of an element at low pressure is subjected to an input of energy, such as from an electric discharge, the atoms are themselves found to emit electromagnetic radiation. On passing through a very thin slit and then through a prism the light (electromagnetic radiation) emitted by the excited atoms is separated into its component frequencies. The familiar dispersion of white light is illustrated below:
Solids, liquids and dense gases glow at high temperatures. The emitted light, examined using a spectroscope, consists of a continuous band of colours as in a rainbow. A continuous spectrum is observed. This is typical of matter in which the atoms are packed closely together. Gases at low pressure behave quite differently.
The excited atoms emit only certain frequencies, and when these are placed as discreet lines along a frequency scale an atomic emission spectrum is formed. The spectral lines in the visible region of the atomic emission spectrum of barium are shown below.
Spectral lines exist in series in the different regions (infra-red, visible and ultraviolet) of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. The spectral lines in a series get closer together with increasing frequency. Each element has its own unique atomic emission spectrum.
The problem was now to explain the observations outlined above...
These energy levels are called Principal Quantum Levels. An atom can have only one ground state..It was necessary to explain how electrons are situated in atoms and why atoms are stable.. An atom has many excited states. without emitting or absorbing energy. If the electron occupies one of the higher energy levels then the atom is in an excited state. denoted by the Principal Quantum Number. . A prism can now be used to separate the emitted electromagnetic radiation into its component frequencies (wavelengths or energies). In a sample of gaseous hydrogen where there are many trillions of atoms all of the possible electron transitions from higher to lower energy levels will take place many times. This is as a result of an electron 'falling' from a higher energy level to one of lower energy. The electron in the hydrogen atom exists only in certain definite energy levels. The atom does not remain excited but re-emits energy as electromagnetic radiation. These are then represented as spectral lines along an increasing frequency scale to form an atomic emission spectrum. its electron is 'promoted' from the lowest energy level to one of higher energy. n. Principal Quantum Levels (n) for the hydrogen atom. In 1913. When a gaseous hydrogen atom in its ground state is excited by an input of energy. Much of the following discussion refers to hydrogen atoms as these contain only one proton and one electron making them convenient to study. it was Neils Bohr who solved many of the problems at the time by proposing that the electron revolves around the nucleus of the atom with a definite fixed energy in a fixed path. Here's what happens. Principal Quantum Level n = 1 is closest to the nucleus of the atom and of lowest energy. When the electron occupies the energy level of lowest energy the atom is said to be in its ground state. This electron transition results in the release of a photon from the atom of an amount of energy (E = hν ) equal to the difference in energy of the electronic energy levels involved in the transition.
The Bohr theory was a marvellous success in explaining the spectrum of the hydrogen atom. it is normal to consider electron transitions from higher energy levels to the same Principal Quantum Level.. called the Balmer Series. For clarity. but Bohr's 'model' is still very helpful to us.. The diagram below illustrates the formation of a series of spectral lines in the visible region of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation for hydrogen. His calculated wavelengths agreed perfectly with the experimentally measured wavelengths of the spectral lines. Bohr knew that he was on to something.Comment: A hydrogen atom in its Ground State. . More recent theories about the electronic structure of atoms have refined these ideas. matching theory with experimental data is successful science. The Bohr theory was a marvellous success. The electron occupies the lowest possible energy level which in the case of hydrogen is the Principal Quantum Level n = 1.
the atomic emission spectrum of an element is like a fingerprint.The Spectral Lines are in Series. are due to electron transitions from higher energy levels all to the n = 1 level. the spectral lines get closer together with increasing frequency. As referred to above for hydrogen atoms.. The series of lines in the ultra-violet region. and these were discovered after Bohr predicted their existence. called the Lyman Series. This suggests that the electronic energy levels get closer the more distant they become from the nucleus of the atom.. . Within each series. No two elements have the same atomic emission spectrum. electron transitions form higher energy levels all to the n = 2 level produce a series of lines in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. called the Balmer Series.
The diagram to the right illustrates the formation of three series of spectral lines in the atomic emission spectrum of hydrogen. .