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I saw different colors of fire burning different metals. But how does this work? The Balmer series requires electrons to drop back down to n = 2. But, not all alkali metals have empty space in their second principle energy level. Does one electron, from the second principle energy level, just jump to somewhere of energy and come back down.

My description is kinda confusing, but all I'm saying is, where does that space in the second energy level come from?

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The Balmer series relates to the electronic transitions in the hydrogen spectrum. In other elements it only requires that the energy difference between different excited states corresponds to a wavelength in the visible spectrum. These will clearly differ depending on the effective nuclear charge of the elemnt concerned.

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Just to complete the previous answer, the Balmer serie isn't the only desexcitation serie producing visible light spectrum for atom nucleus.
But if you are speaking about the Hydrogen, for instance you also have the Paschen serie for electron down to the $n = 3$ level.
So it's the same for other elements, there is no special need for an electron to jump down on the precise level $n = 2$ to produce a photon within the visible spectra during its desexcitation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pache series does not produce visible light $\endgroup$ Dec 4 '14 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I don't know about Pache serie. But it's true that Paschen Serie does not, althought it was just to illustrate the fact an electron has no vital need to jump down to the $ n = 2 $ energy level to produce a photon during the desexcitation. $\endgroup$
    – Babounet
    Dec 4 '14 at 12:25

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