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In 1913, Danish physicist Niels Bohr created the first quantum theory of atoms by bonding together empirical regularities of line spectra of hydrogen, Rutherford’s nuclear model of the atom, and the quantum character of radiation and absorption of light.

As a starting point, Bohr accepted new postulates of quantum mechanics, according to which at the subatomic level, energy is emitted only in portions, which are called quanta. German physicist Max Planck took the position that the atoms emit light by individual particles to resolve the long-standing problem of black-body radiation. Using the concept of the photon theory, Albert Einstein explained the photoelectric effect.

Bohr developed a quantum theory even further and applied it to the electrons of the atomic orbits. Scientifically speaking, he assumed that the angular momentum of the electron is quantized. He further showed that in this case, the electron cannot be at an arbitrary distance from the atomic nucleus, and can be fixed only on the number of orbits, known as allowed orbit. Electrons on such orbits cannot radiate electromagnetic waves of arbitrary intensity and frequency; otherwise they are likely to have to go to a lower, unauthorized orbit. Therefore, they are held in their higher orbit.

However, electrons can jump to another allowed orbit. Like most phenomena in the world of quantum mechanics, this process is not easy to visualize. Electron simply disappears from one orbit to another, and materializes without crossing the space between them. This effect is called a quantum leap. If the electron jumps to a lower orbit, it loses energy and hence emits a photon – fixed photon energy at a fixed wavelength. Visually we distinguish photons of different energies by color – copper wire on fire glows with blue. To move to a higher orbit, the electron must therefore absorb a photon.

According to Bohr’s hydrogen atom theory, the electrons go up and down the orbits with discrete jumps – from one allowed orbit to another, just as we climb and descend the stairs. Each jump is necessarily accompanied by the emission or absorption of quantum of energy of electromagnetic radiation, which we call the photon.

Over time, an intuitive hypothesis of Bohr gave way to strict systematic formulation in the framework of the laws of quantum mechanics and, in particular, the concept of the dual nature of elementary particles – wave-particle. Today, the electrons appear to us not as microscopic planets orbiting the atomic nucleus but as the probability waves, splashing in their orbits.

In 1913, Danish physicist Niels Bohr created the first quantum theory of atoms by bonding together empirical regularities of line spectra of hydrogen, Rutherford’s nuclear model of the atom, and the quantum character of radiation and absorption of light.

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