Physical Optics

Atomic Spectra


Q1: Using your textbook and the class wall charts, identify four elements by their spectra. 
The actual spectra depend on the source of the element, or where it came from.   The standard wall-chart pictures of spectra are derived from controlled conditions.
Q2: Sketch each of the four spectra. How do the actual spectra vary from the standard pictures? 
The optical apparatus defracts white light and separates out the different wavelengths, or colors, of light.
Notice that visible light is only a small part of all the different types of electromagnetic radiation.
All of these pictures are from "The Physics Classroom"
Q3: How are these images of spectral lines produced by your optical apparatus?
Spectral lines are a particular set of wavelengths.   Every different type of atom has its own distinctive set of spectral lines.   The lines represent different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, many of which fall into the range of visible light.   The wavelengths of energy are created, or given off, as electrons in the atom move from higher energy levels to lower energy levels.   An input of energy is what caused the electrons to move to the higher energy levels in the first place.   Since a particular type of atom has a certain arrangement of electrons the wavelengths that are emitted by those electrons are distinctive to the atom.

How are these spectral lines generated by phenomena within atoms?

An understanding of atomic spectra is very useful. It allows us to easily, and accurately, identify atoms, elements, and even compounds. This holds true even for identifying the nature of matter that exists billions of miles from Earth.

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