Spreadsheet-Based Program for Simulating Atomic Emission Spectra

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A simple Excel spreadsheet-based program for simulating atomic emission spectra from the properties of neutral atoms (e.g., energies and statistical weights of the electronic states, electronic partition functions, transition probabilities, etc.) is described. The contents of the spreadsheet (i.e., input parameters, formulas for calculating emission intensities, etc.) are in full view and are controllable by the student and instructor, and the result of changing temperature and line width on relative intensities can be observed in real time. Thorough descriptions of how to use the spreadsheet-based program, how to extract relevant quantum mechanical properties from the NIST Atomic Spectra Database, and how to create a new worksheet for an element of interest are also included. It is envisioned that the program will serve as a means for instructors to link atomic emission in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum, as in the flame test demonstration, to the theoretical concepts of statistical and quantum mechanics encountered in advanced physical and analytical chemistry courses. (Graph Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1736-1738
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 14 2014


  • Atomic Spectroscopy
  • Computer-Based Learning
  • Graduate Education/Research
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Quantum Chemistry
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

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