Ground State vs Excited State
Ground state and excited state are two states of atoms that are discussed under atomic structure. The concepts of ground state and exited state are used in fields such as astronomy, quantum mechanics, chemical analysis, spectroscopy and even medical sciences. It is vital to have a clear understanding of what ground state and excited state are in order to excel in such fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what excited state and ground state are, their similarities, applications of ground state and excited state and finally the difference between excited state and ground state.
To understand ground state, one must first have an understanding of the atomic structure. The simplest of atoms is the hydrogen atom. It consists of a single proton as the nucleus and a single electron orbiting around the nucleus. The classical model of the atom is the nucleus and electrons orbiting it in circular paths. The classical model is complete enough to describe the ground state and the excited state of atoms, but some concepts of quantum mechanics are required. Ground state of a quantum mechanical system is known as the ground state of the system. The wave function of one-dimensional quantum wave is half-length of a sine wave. A system is said to have acquired its ground state when the system is at absolute zero.
Excited state of an atom or any other system is also based on the structure of the system. Let us have a deeper look into the atomic structure in order to understand this. The atom consists of nucleus and electrons orbiting around it. The distance from the nucleus depends on the angular velocity of the electron. The angular velocity is dependable on the energy of the electron. The quantum mechanical interpretation of this system tells that the electron cannot just take any value as the energy. The amount of energy the electron can have is discrete. Therefore, the electron cannot be at any distance from the nucleus. The distance function, which the electron is at, is also discrete. When an electron is given energy, so that the energy of the photon is exactly the energy gap between the current energy of the system and a higher energy the system can obtain, the electron will absorb the photon. This electron will go to a state of higher energy. Any energy level higher than the ground state energy is known as excited levels. The electrons orbiting on such levels are known as excited electrons. As mentioned above, the excited state of the electron cannot take any arbitrary value. It can only take certain quantum mechanical values.
What is the difference between ground state and excited state?
• Ground state is the lowest energy state of a system while excited state is any energy state higher than the ground state.
• There is only one ground state energy for a system, but there can be many possible excited states per system.