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Volume 12: Pages 312-331, 1999
Classical Description of Photon Emission from Atomic Hydrogen
York University, 4700 Keele Street, Room 003, Petrie Science Bldg., Toronto/North York, Ontario, M3J 1P3 Canada
Light emitted from atoms during transitions of electrons from higher to lower discrete energy states has the form of photons carrying energy and angular momentum. Photon emission or absorption is conventionally described using quantum theory. There is also a classical description in terms of the motion of an atomic electron under the restoring force of the harmonic oscillator atomic model and an additional nonconservative radiation resistance (decelerating) force (derived from the electromagnetic field of the emitted photon—the action and reaction law). This paper presents a new classical (semiclassical) description of photon emission or absorption by the hydrogen atom. This new description involves the Coulomb force and a radiation resistance force, which is much stronger than assumed in previous descriptions. Calculations based upon this new description show that the emission or absorption of a photon during a transition of the electron between quantized (Bohr) atomic states can take place within a time interval equal to one period of the photon's wave. This transition time corresponds to the time needed for the electron to travel one full orbit around the nucleus. This creation of a one‐wavelength‐long photon (soliton‐wave) is supported by the results of a recent experiment with an ultrafast laser generating light pulses shorter than two photon wavelengths.
Keywords: photon emission, hydrogen, classical electrodynamics, atomic states, radiation resistance force, energy, angular momentum, one‐wavelength‐long photon (soliton‐wave)
Received: September 14, 1998; Published online: December 15, 2008