Home Discussion Forum Explain the orgin of visible colors at the atomic level?

Explain the orgin of visible colors at the atomic level?

This is for a take-home final for physical science… so far my answer is as follows:
When the gas of vapor of a substance is heated, the atoms in that substance absorb energy. The electrons will then jump from their normal ground state positions to the outer levels, which are a higher lever of energy, and this is called an “excited state.” Then, when the electrons fall back into the lower level, it emits a certain amount of energy, which is released as a quantum of light. When the light emitted from an element passes through a prism, it gives the atomic emission spectrum of the element. Each element emits a unique spectrum, which makes it easy for identification.
Am I missing anything, or is this pretty good?
to the first person who answered me, uh hello, i DID do it myself, i’m just looking for someone to tell me i’m going in the right direction. so thanks for nothing.


  1. As much as I’d like to answer this for you, as my parents would say “You have to do it on your own or you won’t learn anything!”

  2. That’s pretty good. You may want to mention that the “certain amount of energy” is equal to the energy difference between the higher (excited) energy level and the lower (not necessarily ground) level. And since each element’s energy levels are unique, the photon energies correspond to unique wavelengths of light by the equation:
    E = (h·c) / λ
    where h = Planck’s constant, c = speed of light, and λ = the wavelength.
    I would also change “prism” to “diffraction grating”.
    That looks like alot of notes, but clearly, you understand the question. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have helped, because you wouldn’t have understood what I was saying.

  3. All colours when combined from black. The absence of all colour is white. Colour is similar to a radio wave or sine wave. As all colours pass through a prism it separates them as they are bent on their travel through the prism.
    When we look at something of a particular colour, what we are actually seeing is that colour being reflected back while all the other colours are being absorbed.
    I don’t know if this will help you or if it is what you are looking for but it should give you a start…go to a search engine and type in light or colour you should come up with a lot of better information than I have given.

  4. Yeh, your answer is on the right track, I mean if you really want to go to town on this one you can start talking about black body radiation and start deriving the plank equations etc…. but if this is just for high school it seems fine, if a little sketchy.
    You might want to expand on why you have different absorption spectrums for the different elements, and this has to do with the electron shell structure.. also you could discuss briefly the EM spectrum and what “white light” is.

  5. if to understand visible from energy control of the cells yes! to produce a wave form, higher mental states require concentration and focus! chaos is created by lack of control, dont loose you free will focus!


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