Flame Tests: Atomic Emission and Electron Energy Levels

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Flame Tests
Atomic Emission and Electron Energy Levels

AES, or atomic emission spectroscopy, is a method which chemically analyzes the particular wavelength of a sample element to identify and determine the abundance of this certain element. The wavelength of the atomic spectral line unveils the identity of the element while the emitted light intensity is proportional to the number of atoms in the element. The flame test is also a very effective way to identify an individual element. The color of the flame can be described in terms of its wavelength and can be used to identify the element. Energy can be added to atoms in a variety of ways. When heat energy is added, the excited electrons in the atoms emit light while falling back to lower electron energy levels. The light given off has wavelengths and colors that are unique to the element and depend on the amount of energy originally absorbed. Usually, each excited atom will only emit one type, or color, of light. There is a normal tendency for the electrons to make a transition or drop back down to the ground state from these excited energy levels. The energy levels in atoms and ions are crucial to the production and the detection of light. These electrons move throughout the energy levels in atoms and molecules. The colors of the emitted light from these particles are dependent on these electron jumps between the shells. When an electron makes a transition from a higher energy level to a lower one, a photon, or particle of light, is produced and emitted. This process can happen in a single step emitting one photon

in the process, or the electron can make this trip back down to the ground state in a series of several smaller steps. A photon is emitted with each step. Different elements emit different emission spectra when they are excited because each element has a unique energy level system or energy shell. The difference in the set of emission colors is due to the fact that all elements have...
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