The atomic physics analyzes the structure of the atoms of the atomic nucleus and electron shell and the interaction of atoms and ions with other atoms or ions with solids, with electromagnetic radiation , with electric and magnetic fields .
Atomic physics is a branch of physics that deals with the physics of the atomic shell and the processes occurring in it. She examines u. a. the distribution of electrons to the quantum mechanical energy levels and thus describes the observed spectral lines of the atoms, the structure of the periodic table of the elements and the basis for understanding the chemical bond .
Atomic physics is often confused with nuclear physics , which deals with the structure of the atomic nucleus; atomic physics regards the atomic nucleus as a building block that cannot be further subdivided.
The idea that all matter is composed of the smallest particles, the atoms, can already be found in the natural philosophy of antiquity, for example in Leukippus and his pupil Democritus . However, it was not empirically substantiated until the 19th century through studies by John Dalton , Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Ludwig Boltzmann . With the development of spectroscopy , the question of the internal structure and dynamics of atoms arose. This ultimately led to the development of quantum mechanics , since classical physics completely failed here.
Modern atomic physics
The most important research area in atomic physics today is quantum optics . Often only this term is mentioned in the meantime in order to avoid the above-mentioned risk of confusion between atomic and nuclear physics. Quantum optics deals, among other things, with precision measurements of atomic energy levels, from which natural constants can be determined with high accuracy and fundamental theories can be tested. Investigations on exotic atoms allow questions of nuclear and elementary particle physics to be approached using methods of atomic physics. An attempt is made to observe the dynamic processes in the electron shell directly with ultrashort light pulses. Individual ionized atoms can be trapped in ion traps for a long time and examined with the highest precision. The development of laser cooling and the magneto-optical trap (MOT) have made it possible to investigate ultra-cold gases and Bose-Einstein condensates , but also extremely rare isotopes .
Atomic physics has spawned a wide variety of applications, including the laser or the atomic clock . Investigation methods that were originally developed for atomic physics experiments have now found an application that goes far beyond this, such as nuclear magnetic resonance in medical imaging , absorption and emission spectroscopy in chemical analysis , or photoelectron spectroscopy in materials science .
Eminent nuclear physicists
- Niels Bohr (1885–1962), Danish physicist; Nobel Prize in Physics 1922 (structure of atoms and their radiation), Bohr's atomic model , principle of correspondence , principle of complementarity
- Steven Chu (* 1948), American physicist and politician; Nobel Prize in Physics 1997 (influencing atoms by means of lasers, laser cooling ), atom traps and atomic clocks , measurements of atomic physics
- Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (* 1933), French physicist; Nobel Prize in Physics 1997 (cooling and trapping atoms with laser light), quantum mechanics , nuclear and molecular physics
- Edward Uhler Condon (1902–1974), American physicist; Franck-Condon principle , atomic energy, radar
- Paul Dirac (1902–1984), British physicist and co-founder of quantum physics, Nobel Prize in Physics 1933 ( atomic theory , with Schrödinger); Dirac comb , Fermi-Dirac statistics , Dirac sea , Dirac-spinor , Dirac equation , Dirac function , delta distribution , Dirac constant , Dirac measure , Dirac hypothesis , postulate of the magnetic monopoly
- Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), Italian-American nuclear physicist; Nobel Prize in Physics 1938, quantum mechanics , quantum statistics , Fermi-Dirac statistics for fermions , Fermi's golden rule , Fermi surface , Fermi resonance , Thomas-Fermi model , first controlled nuclear chain reaction, atomic bomb , Fermigas , Fermium , Fermi level , Fermi Problems
- Robert Hofstadter (1915–1990), American physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics 1961 for work on electron scattering on atomic nuclei , determination of size and charge distribution on protons and neutrons
- Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), American theoretical physicist, scientific director of the Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb
- Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837–1923), Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics 1910, attraction between atoms, Van der Waals forces , Van der Waals radius , Van der Waals equation
- Wolfgang Karl Ernst Finkelnburg : Introduction to Atomic Physics . 2nd Edition. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 1941 (XII, 416 pages).
- Walter Weizel : electrons, atoms, molecules . Volk u. Wissen Verl., Berlin, Leipzig 1949 (187 pages).
- Theo Mayer-Kuckuk : Atomic Physics: An Introduction; with 6 tables and 1 spectral table . Teubner, Stuttgart 1977, ISBN 3-519-03042-X (233 pages).
- Niels Bohr: atomic physics and human knowledge: essays and lectures from the years 1930 to 1961 . Vieweg, Braunschweig 1985, ISBN 3-528-08910-5 (X, 160 pages).
- Bernhard Bröcker: DTV-Atlas Atomic Physics: With 116 image pages in color . 6th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verl., Munich 1997, ISBN 3-423-03009-7 (254 pages).
- Werner Heisenberg: The part and the whole: Conversations related to atomic physics . 2nd edition, unchanged. Paperback edition Piper, Munich, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-492-22297-8 (287 pages).
- Hermann Haken , Hans Christoph Wolf : Atomic and Quantum Physics: Introduction to the experimental and theoretical basics . with… 32 tables 177 exercises and complete solutions. 8th, updated and exp. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2004, ISBN 978-3-642-62142-0 (XX, 531 pages).
- Klaus Bethge , Michael Gruber, Thomas Stöhlker: Physics of Atoms and Molecules: An Introduction . 2., ext. and revised WILEY-VCH, Weinheim 2004, ISBN 3-527-40463-5 (X, 427 pages).