# Ground State

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#1
I appreciate it's rather an insignificant detail but is an atom's ground state written as n=0 or n=1? My revision guide and textbook seem to say different things.
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5 years ago
#2
(Original post by Amarantha)
I appreciate it's rather an insignificant detail but is an atom's ground state written as n=0 or n=1? My revision guide and textbook seem to say different things.
I know the ground state as n=1. That makes sense in my opinion: its the first electron path in an atom anyway. Another states are higher ones with higher electron energy.

Are you able to name an example where n=0?
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#3
My revision guide and indeed most of the internet labels the ground state as n=1. But my textbook labels the ground state (of a mercury atom, specifically) as n=0. It is also how my teacher taught it to us but I am seeing a lot of contradiction to this.

Edit: It seems later on, in a question, the ground state is labelled as n=1 so perhaps the n=0 is a printing error?
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5 years ago
#4
(Original post by Amarantha)
My revision guide and indeed most of the internet labels the ground state as n=1. But my textbook labels the ground state (of a mercury atom, specifically) as n=0. It is also how my teacher taught it to us but I am seeing a lot of contradiction to this.

Edit: It seems later on, in a question, the ground state is labelled as n=1 so perhaps the n=0 is a printing error?
Did you mean examples like those? If that is the case, I would say n=0 is the ground state whenever energy passages are regarded, but n=1 whenever path passages are regarded.
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#5
Yes, that is it. That would make sense considering the energy is 0eV. Thanks for the clarification.
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5 years ago
#6
(Original post by Amarantha)
Yes, that is it. That would make sense considering the energy is 0eV. Thanks for the clarification.
You are welcome. I am glad to clear a contradiction for you.
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5 years ago
#7
n=0, n=1 is the first excited state.
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5 years ago
#8
(Original post by AfterShave)
n=0, n=1 is the first excited state.
is the ground state
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5 years ago
#9
The ground state of a quantum mechanical system is the lowest possible energy state that the system supports.

Given the discrete nature of the energy levels we can assign numbers to each energy state. We normally do this with the natural numbers. I think the confusion is caused in texts due to the fact that in some systems (e.g. infinite square well) the ground state energy is labelled by n=1 whilst systems like the quantum harmonic oscillator start at n=0. The point is that the number assigned to the ground state doesn't matter too much. The ground state is the physical definition I gave above.
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