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Electron excitation + photon emission and the colours we see

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--- Quote from: ovin8k on May 04, 2022, 01:36:44 PM ---Are there any articles that I could read that you'd recommend?

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You can just google "what causes color" and there are a lot of articles written in basic language. For instance, this one looks like it might be decent.

--- Quote ---Also when you burn metals, the flame appears as different colours. This is due to different wavelengths of light (from what I gathered). What causes the different wavelengths to be emitted during combustion for the different metals? What causes the different wavelengths so that aluminium is silver white, and boron is bright green?

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Well, this *is* due to photon emission from excited states of different metal atoms and ions. The color of light emitted is characteristic of the energy level spacing, which depends on the electron configuration and nuclear core charge of different elements. It is how we determine what elements are in distant stars and also what elements are in environmental samples in the lab. You may find this article interesting.

--- Quote ---What's another way of thinking about this, I don't understand what you mean by orbitals not being functions of just "atoms". What do you mean by a function an an atom?

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He means that most atoms combine to form molecules, so most colors you see come from light interaction with molecular orbitals, not atomic orbitals. (Although the case you mention above, a flame, light mostly does come from atomic orbitals, since the high energy of a flame "atomizes" a large portion of the substrate.)


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