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Spectral Lines of Hydrogen

Emission lines are related to electron transitions.

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Spectral Rungs

How might the rungs on a ladder be used to represent the energy levels of a hydrogen atom?

Credit: Seabamirum
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seabamirum/2860189868/sizes/o/in/photolist-5mKdNq-5ogoWH-5oB7L9-5q2ViE-5rz8zN-5rzipU-5so7QZ-5wpzu2-5xq4Zp-5Q7A1e-5Trhbe-5Uim9r-5UimkF-5X7JSN-5XU6Xq-62E7eh-62ENpx-633xja-67o97K-6aYnf7-6cwMYj-6d7RDd-6fn4oP-6jfzir-6krNaa-6krNdV-6krNiX-6kvYdG-6oSCw5-6rxvc7-6v1Bb9-6vcdz1-6CA5Dp-6CEeQy-6CRCUR-6KSb7S-6Lj5Cc-6LrQqa-6RoMPA-6RoN6U-6W2fKn-6Xbihm-6YDy9a-72H7FQ-74qfVw-79JUe6-7exvnG-7fJ8MH-7fKcRz-7gadJz-7rtTwn/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Ladder, or hydrogen emission spectrum? [Figure1]

An old, wooden ladder with 12 rungs is propped up against a wall. A boy is looking for something to do, and decides to play on the ladder. He makes up a game in which he climbs up the ladder and jumps down to the first rung from every higher rung. The boy is wearing shoes that light up when pressure is put on his heels. The greater the distance between the first rung and the rung he is jumping from, the greater the pressure is on the heels of his shoes. The greater the pressure on his shoes, the more they light up. 

After the boy has finished jumping from all the rungs, he adjusts the game to jump down to the second rung from every higher one. The shoes light up following the same trend as in the previous version of the game. The boy continues the game by adjusting the base rung one higher each round.

Now think of the scenario in terms of emission spectrometry.

Creative Applications

1. Does the energy released by an electron jumping from higher to lower energy levels increase as the distance between levels increases? Does frequency increase? Wavelength?

2. What is the name of the spectral series of hydrogen represented by the first version of the ladder game? The wavelengths of this series consist which type of electromagnetic radiation?

3. The second version of the ladder game represents the spectral series of hydrogen with the only bands of visible light. What are the colors of these four spectral lines from left to right? What is this series named?

4. Name the remaining emission spectrum series (4 more have names).

5. Does it take more energy for the boy to climb up or down the ladder? How does this reflect release and absorption of energy in spectral emission?


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