I am learning about ionization energies and I understand roughly how the first ionization energy can be measured. But how are the subsequent energies measured?

For the 1st ionization energy the neutral atoms are excited by photons or electrons of known energies. When an atom is ionized the negative electron and the positive ion are attracted to a detector giving a readout voltage.

After the first electron is removed the atom is charged and moves towards the detector plate. How then can we measure the second energy if the ion ''goes away'' after the first ionization? Is there some way of holding the ion in place until a second ionization occurs?

Our notes used potassium as an example listing off the 17 ionization values. So how was say the 17th ionization energy for potassium measured?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Moving ions can still be subjected to incident radiation to trigger the higher ionization. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Jul 21, 2021 at 15:16


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