As per the dogma of quantum mech, the jump of an electron from a higher to a lower energy shell is accompanied by photon emission. All photons are born this way. (Although an off topic rebuttal might say that there is no reason the same process cannot occur with protons in the nucleus and might account for the nuclear flash of those explosions). Anyway my question has to do with the ‘death’ of photons. Certainly absorption of photons by atoms can result in several different manifestations of increased atomic energy. Vibration, rotation, linear motion(increased temp), and even excitation of the electrons to higher energy levels with spontaneous re-emission of new photons at different frequencies are possible. So like us, photons can die in many ways.
But is there any data that looks at the energy of an atom when a photon hits it? Is the energy jump a quantum (discrete and reproducible amount whose value is part of a limited set) amount?
I thought about the impossibility of measuring this. Can one measure the energy of an object unless it does something? And even though the atom might ‘swallow’ photons in discrete packets, the manifestation of that energy is not necessarily quantal (vibration, rotation, etc)
But it seems almost BY DEFINITION absorption must be quantized because you can never measure a fractional (leftover) photon. But that is only if we consider absorption by single atoms. However a molecule of multiple atoms could also absorb a single photon. Then which atom of the molecule gets its electrons excited? Since the electrons of a covalent bond are shared, excitation of those electrons might be considered’fractional’ absorption. But this is just semantics- it is the molecule that does the absorbing so does it even make sense to ask how the energy is distributed among the atoms?
Fractional absorption has another possibility of manifesting. If the atom is traveling at relativistic velocity then its absorption of energy is limited by the speed of light. So even as the relativistic atom is bombarded by more photons, shouldn’t its energy jumps (quantized though they may be) become smaller at higher velocities?