My textbook states that the observation that a electric current passing through a gas causes characteristic emission spectrum to be observed gives supporting evidence for the wave nature of electrons.

I don't really understand why emission atomic spectra suggest the wave nature of electrons. Doesn't emission spectra give supporting evidence to Bohr's model of the atom, with orbiting electrons having quantised energies?

P.S I'm not sure which tags this question should go under.


Bohr's model is wrong. A less-wrong model, which explains more of the data, is the Schroedinger wave equation, in which the electron is a wave.

However, a historian would point out that Bohr's hand-waving justification for quantized orbits was that an electron in a circular orbit with momentum $p$ would have de Broglie wavelength $\lambda = h/p$, and that an integer number of such waves must "fit" into the circular orbit. The Bohr model is a wave model.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @rob! An exam question asked whether the atomic emission spectra provide evidence for particle nature of light, or the wave nature of light, or provide evidence for neither. Would it be fair to say that atomic emission spectra don't provide any evidence about the nature of light? $\endgroup$ – Hypatia of Alexandria Aug 13 '20 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say emission spectra provide no evidence into the nature of light, but the insights are subtle. After all, quantum particles are neither classical waves nor classical particles, but something entirely different to both. $\endgroup$ – Harry Wilson Aug 14 '20 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @HypatiaofAlexandria That seems meaty enough to warrant its own question, rather than a comment thread. $\endgroup$ – rob Aug 14 '20 at 15:22

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