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Thread: quantized electrons

  1. #1 quantized electrons 
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    WHY are electrons' energy levels quantized?

    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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  3. #2  
    The energy level of electrons has been proven to exist at a number of set levels. So far as I know this is simply a matter of the universe we find ourselves in. I am not sure that anubody knows, I think 'it just is'.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Sophomore Matt Lacey's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Southampton, England
    Hmm, I don't know how to put this simply, but I'll give it a go.

    Electrons are quantum particles (exhibit wave/particle duality). Energy levels arise because wavefunctions (mathematical descriptors of quantum states) have to be single-valued and continuous.

    To give a massively simplified example of this, y = sin(x) is continuous (ie sin(x) = 0 at x = 0 and x = 2 pi, and you get the same repeating pattern if you translate it along the x axis by 2 pi) and single valued (there is only one value of sin(x) for each value of x).

    y = sin(2x) is the same, continuous and single valued, as is y = sin(3x), - but, e.g., y = sin(2.3x) is not continuous. Therefore, only integer multiples of the form y = sin(nx) are allowed (continuous). Thus, if you like, the values of n are the 'energy levels'. It's like that in quantum mechanics, only there's a bit more to it.
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