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19 March 2011

Mail Time: How many atomic energy level transitions?

Joshua Beck of North Carolina writes:

When solving problems with energy levels, and a question asks them to draw all the possible transitions for an electron that is starting in say, the 3rd excited state. Should they only be drawing transitions that start there, or would they draw a transition from 3 down to 2, then also from 2 down to 1, etc. Does that question make sense?

It does make sense.  They should draw ALL transitions, including:

* from level 3 to level 1
* from level 3 to level 2
* from level 2 to level 1

Students should be able to calculate the energy, wavelength, and frequency of all three possible emitted photons -- one of those will likely be parts (b) and (c) of the question you pose.


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