An Introduction to Atomic physics


Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an atomic nucleus and a system of electrons. While atomic physics  meanly deals with the way electrons are arranged around the atomic nucleus and how those arrangements change. It also includes an atoms energy states, how it interacts with outside particles and electromagnetic fields.

Electron  orbitals

The concept of electron  orbitals was originally developed by studying hydrogen since it is the simplest case but studying other elements produced the electron orbitals shown above They include the effects of multiple electrons. The shapes of these orbitals were originally found mathematically and were long viewed as purely mathematical abstractions. The orbitals were never expected to be seen and physics students have long been told this. However field-emission electron microscopy has changed this.

Mathematically generated s orbital image

Field-emission electron microscopy s orbital image atomic orbitals.pdf

Mathematically generated p orbital image

Field-emission electron microscopy p orbital image atomic orbitals.pdf

The imaging of  actual electron orbitals was a major surprise and a vivid confirmation of not only the quantum model of the atom but of quantum mechanics as a whole. For something that was never suppose to be actually seen these images are amazing.


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