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Determining an Experimental Value of the Rydberg Constant Using Grating Spectrometry

Jaymar B. Soriano, Margaret Honrado, Mervin Osma, and Ramses Russel Sol National Institute of Physics, University of the Philippines, Diliman jbsoriano@gmail.com

Abstract

The group has performed a grating spectrometry on the Hydrogen spectrum tube, which dealt with computing the experimental wavelengths,

λ of the emission lines of hydrogen by employing the

grating equation dsinθ=λ

wavelengths, the Balmer emission line series was used to fit the relationship between 1/λ and 1/n 2 , where n is the principal quantum number. This relationship is given by the equation 1/λ = -1.21/ n 2 nm -1 +0.0029 nm -1 . The slope of the equation determines the experimental value of the Rydberg constant equal to 1.21x10 7 /m acquiring 10% percent deviation compared with the accepted value of 1.097x10 7 /m.

With the calculated

1. Introduction

The Hydrogen atom, like all atoms, is an electron trap [1]. It consists of a single electron of charge –e, which is bound to its central nucleus, a single proton of charge +e, by the attractive Coulomb force that acts between them. The single electron is confined to a region of space. From the confinement principle, the electron is expected to exist only in a discrete set of quantum states, each with certain energy. The potential energy U for the two-particle system of a hydrogen atom, which is just the Coulomb potential energy, can be written as:

U =

1

e

2

4 πε

0 r

(1)

With the Coulomb force that provides the centripetal motion of the electron, the kinetic energy of the electron is determined to be:

K

=

1

2

2

mv

=

1

e

2

8

πε

0

r

(2)

The total energy of the system is thus:

E

=

K

+

U

=

1

e

2

8 πε

0 r

(3)

To circumvent the idea that the orbiting electron continually radiates electromagnetic (EM) energy resulting to the collapse of the hydrogen atom, Neils Bohr postulates “stationary states” in which electrons would not radiate EM energy, states in which the

angular momentum of the electron takes integral multiples of h, thus:

(4)

By manipulating equations (2) and (4), a series of allowed values of the radius r is determined as:

mvr = nh

; n = 1, 2, 3,…

r n =

4

πε

0

h

2

2

me

n

2

=

a n

0

2 (5)

where a o =0.0529nm is the Bohr radius after substituting the values of the mass of the electron m, the Planck’s constant h, and the elementary charge e, and n is a positive integer. With this obtained expression for r n , it is being substituted to equation (3) to give:

E n

=

me 4

1

13.6

=

32

2

π ε

0

2

h

2

n

2

n

2

(6)

The electron in a hydrogen atom tends to be in the lowest energy level [2]. It can make a quantum jump to a higher level at greater energy only if it is given the required energy to reach the higher level. This is done either through photon absorption or photon emission, which occur only if the absorbed or emitted photon energy is equal to the energy difference between the electrons initial and final energy level, E n1 and E n2 respectively, so that:

E n1 - E n2 = hν =

hc

λ

(7)

Equation (6) is being substituted to (7) and

consequently, we are left to the following equation:

1

λ

= -

R

n

1

2

+

R

n

2

2

(8)

where λ is the wavelength of the absorbed or emitted photon and R is the Rydberg constant of

proportionality.

In the grating spectrometry experiment, the hydrogen spectrum tube contains one or more elements as gaseous atoms or molecules. Energy is

supplied through an electric field applied between electrodes at the end of the tubes. Ions and electrons formed by the field are accelerated, and collisions convert the increased kinetic energy to other types. Due to collision ionization, molecular H 2 is converted to atomic hydrogen in the spectral tube. Electrons

from the H atoms are exited to higher energy levels through collisions with the other electrons. Electrons in energetic or excited atoms occupy one of many well-defined states. An electron with high energy makes a quantum jump to a lower energy state simultaneously emitting a photon corresponding to the energy difference between the final and initial energy states as said earlier. The grating spectrometry uses a transmission grating which diffracts the light from the hydrogen spectrum tube into hydrogen emission lines [3]. The wavelength λ of each emission line is determined using the grating equation:

(9)

where m is the order of the spectrum, d is the grating

m λ = d sinθ

size, and θ is the diffraction angle. Johannes Balmer noticed that the wavelengths of the group of emission lines of the hydrogen in the visible region could be very accurately fitted by the formula:

1

λ

= -

R +

n

R

4

(10)

which is clearly just equation (8) with n 2 =2 and n 1 =n is the excited energy level, or principal quantum number, of the electron in the hydrogen atom. That is, the quantum jump made by electrons always end to the n=2 energy level. This grating spectrometry experiment aims to verify the relationship that exists between 1/λ and 1/n 2 by calculating an experimental value of the Rydberg constant R. A methodology of the experiment and a discussion of the results follow. A conclusion will be made hereinafter.

2. Methodology

Aided with a spectrophotometer and a grating of 600 lines/mm mounted on the spectrometer (see Figure 1), the revealed series of sharp emission lines of the hydrogen spectrum tube is being analyzed. The scale reading, which basically gives the diffraction angle, on the zeroth order of the spectrum is made the zero reading. The scale reading for each of the emission lines, (red, blue, and violet) by setting the center of the telescope cross hair of the spectrometer on the lines are read and recorded. With the scale readings, the experimental wavelengths are determined by employing equation (9) on the first order spectrum, m=1, as follows:

λ = (

1

600

x

10

3

m ) sinθ

(11)

m =1, as follows: λ = ( 1 600 x 10 − 3 m ) sin

Figure 1. The grating Spectrophotometry set-up used in the experiment

The results of the experiment are then being analyzed using the idea of the Balmer series of emission lines. The details are presented in the next section.

3. Results and Discussions

The experiment tries to find out the underlying relationship between the reciprocal of the wavelengths of emission lines 1/λ and the reciprocal of the square of the principal quantum number 1/n 2 . For the objective of the experiment, the diffraction angles for each of the emission line of the Hydrogen are being noted. The grating equation for the experiment (11) is used to determine an experimental value of the wavelength of the emission lines.

Table 1. The experimental wavelengths compared with the theoretical

spectrum

λ exp nm

λ theo nm

% diff

red

651

656.3

0.76%

blue

473

486.1

2.67%

green

417

434.1

3.92%

After the experimental wavelengths have been known for the three emission lines of hydrogen, the principal quantum number or the initial state of hydrogen corresponding to each emission line is tried to be figured out. It has been known that the visible spectrum of hydrogen is exactly a Balmer series of emission lines. It is therefore customary to use the idea of Balmer's emission line series to determine the corresponding principal quantum number of hydrogen in the emission lines. Moreover, a greater

energy corresponds to a lower principal quantum

number and shorter wavelength, and thus, a shorter wavelength corresponds to a lower principal number. The experimenter then takes n+1 principal quantum

number for each of the succeeding emission line, where n=2, that is n red = 3, n blue = 4, and n violet = 5. The graph of 1/λ is plotted against 1/n 2 in Figure 2 where a linear regression is applied. The equation of the regression line is:

1 =

1.21

λ

n

2

1

nm

+

0.0029

1

nm

(12)

The slope of the regression line gives the experimental value of the Rydberg constant R 1.21x10 7 m -1 . This value is 10% deviating from the accepted value of the constant. The regression coefficient of linearity of the plot is nearly 1. This suggests the existing linear proportionality of 1/λ with 1/n 2 . The intercept of the regression line on the other hand, gives the experimental quarter value of the Rydberg constant R/4 exp =0.287x10 7 m -1 , which has 4.8% percent deviation compared with the accepted value.

=

exp

0.0026 0.0024 y = -0.0121x + 0.0029 R 2 = 0.9998 0.0022 0.002 0.0018 0.0016
0.0026
0.0024
y = -0.0121x + 0.0029
R 2 = 0.9998
0.0022
0.002
0.0018
0.0016
0.0014
0.0012
0.01
0.02
0.03
0.04
0.05
0.06
0.07
0.08
0.09
0.1
0.11
0.12
1/l nm -1

n -2

Figure 2. The graph of 1/λλλλ versus 1/n 2 of the Hydrogen spectrum. Using regression analysis, the slope of the regression line gives the experimental value of the Rydberg constant of proportionality equal to -1.21x10 7 m -1 .

The linear relationship of the variables 1/λ and 1/n 2 suggests that the wavelength λ of the emitted photon increases with the initial energy level or principal quantum number of the hydrogen atom. However, the obtained experimental value of the Rydberg constant seems to be greater than the accepted value. This could be accounted for by the calculation done on the wavelengths which is brought by errors, both system and random errors, that might have occurred on the scale reading. The uncertainty of the angle measurement is 0.67°. The telescope cross hair is not very well set on the center of the emission lines and the lines do have certain thickness. Another thing is that, two emission lines of the hydrogen spectra are both in the violet spectrum, corresponding to n=5 and n=6 initial energy states of the hydrogen atom. Both lines possibly overlap resulting to one emission line, which is a disadvantage of a grating spectrometry.

However, the resolution of the grating used does not justify this overlap. The experimenter then tried to plot a similar graph with n=5 changed to n=6. The slope of this line gives a less percent deviation when compared with the accepted value of constant,

however, the first graph has a better fit.

4. Conclusion and Recommendation

The experiment verified the linear relationship

that exists between the reciprocal of the wavelengths of emission lines 1/λ and the reciprocal of the square of the principal quantum number 1/n 2 using a grating spectrophotometry. This relationship was given by the result of the regression analysis made with the 1/λ versus 1/n 2 plot of the experimental data,

1 =

1.21

λ

n

2

1

nm

+

0.0029

1

nm

. The slope of the

equation gives the experimental Rydberg constant of proportionality, R exp = 1.21x10 7 m -1 . This value agrees with the accepted value within the 90% confidence limit. The measurements were not considerably accurate as they were performed with a scale reading of uncertainty 0.67°. The experiment can be done in a more accurate and precise manner using other prism or digital spectrometry. It is recommended that a better performance of the experiment must be made and necessitate accuracy and add some precision with the scale reading for the diffraction angles of the emission lines. The experiment can be extended further to investigating the spectral lines of monoatomic elements such as Helium and Mercury. An experiment with the Mercury spectrum tube may interestingly complement a Frank-Hertz experiment on the excitation energies of Mercury.

References

[1 ]David Halliday, et. al. Fundamentals of Physics. Extended Sixth Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Singapore 2001. [2] Kenneth S. Krane. Modern Physics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York.1983. [3] Physics 104.1 Laboratory Manual; PASCO Equipment Manual. [4] The Balmer Series. http://www.en.wikipedia.com. Date downloaded: August 13, 2003.