I learned that electron absorbs a photon and goes into higher energy state. But also all electrons are identical.

What is a difference between the electron in low orbital energy state? and the high one?

  • $\begingroup$ You can construct a Slater determinant with two electrons in two different orbitals $\endgroup$
    – user26143
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ sorry student here... $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 4:35
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Note that it is not the electron that absorbs the photon. It is the atom as a whole that the photon changes by kicking the electron to a higher energy level: it becomes energy and disappears. If there were no open atomic orbitals the photon would not be absorbed. A free electron kicked by a photon will scatter either elastically or inelastically, but a photon will remain to carry energy and momentum conservation. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ "all electrons are identical" means that electrons have no internal details that could tell one apart from the other, not that they're all in the same set of circumstances. It's closer to (but still not the same as) having two coins that are totally identical down to the atom. You can still put one on a higher shelf than the other. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ anna, thanks for clarifying, i may ask something after i've done mental work what does that mean more deeply. @RobertMastragostino what is energy state( upper shelf ). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


The electron in the high energy state has more energy than the electron in the low energy state. This makes said electron want to give up the extra energy and return to the low energy state.


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