Physics
Chemistry
Particle Physics

What happens to an electron if it absorbs a photon?

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Wiki User
01/05/2011

If the photon has enough energy, it will cause the electron to 'jump' to the next higher energy orbital state. This is an excited electron. The electron will not remain in this state for long, and will return to its original state, emitting a photon of exactly the same amount of energy between the two states.

If the photon is of enough energy to move the electron up two states, then as the electron returns to its original state, it can jump immediately back to the original state, or it may stop at a between state, then continue back to the original. If this happens, then two photons each corresponding to the amount of energy given up are emitted.