Difference Between Excitation and Ionization Potential

Main Difference

The main difference between excitation and ionization potential is that excitation describes the movement of an electron from a level of lower energy to a level of higher energy, whereas ionization potential describes the whole removal of an electron from an energy level.

Excitation vs. Ionization Potential

Excitation is considered as the addition of a distinct quantity of energy into a specific system such as an atom, a molecule, or an atomic nucleus; on the other hand, ionization potential is considered as the quantity of energy needed to eliminate the most lightly bound electrons from a neutral gaseous system.

The main purpose of excitation is to explain the movement of an electron from a lower energy level to a higher energy level; on the contrary, the purpose of ionization potential is to explain the removal of a specific electron completely from an energy level. Excitation usually needs energy from the surrounding environment, but soon this energy is released in the form of photons, while ionization potential absorbed its energy from the atom, and this energy is not released again.

In the end, the excitation produces an excited state which is generally unstable and contains a short lifetime; on the flip side, in the end, the ionization potential produces a cation which many time acts a stable ion after the removal of an electron. The excitation energy always equals the difference of energies of the electrons present in the two orbits; on the other hand, ionization potential is present in so much amount that the electron extricates it from the atom, but the kinetic energy outside the atom is zero.

An electron jumps from a lower energy level to an upper energy level but doesn’t leave it in excitation, so the charge present on the atom doesn’t change; on the contrary, in ionization potential, an electron is so much excited that it actually breaks down from the atom and then increasing the charge of the atom. Excitation is the step that is present in the ionization potential, whereas ionization potential is the whole process.

Comparison Chart

ExcitationIonization Potential
The energy required by an electron for moving from its orbit to orbit of higher energy is known as the excitation process.The minimum amount of energy required to free an electron from the ground state of the atom is known as the ionization potential.
Considered As
Considered as the addition of a distinct quantity of energy into a specific system such as an atom, a molecule, or an atomic nucleusConsidered as the quantity of energy needed to eliminate the most lightly bound electrons from a neutral gaseous system
Purpose
To explain the movement of an electron from a lower energy level to a higher energy levelTo explain the removal of a specific electron completely from an energy level
Energy Change
Usually needs energy from the surrounding environment, but soon this energy is released in the form of photonsAbsorbed its energy from the atom, and this energy is not released again
End Product Stability
Produces an excited state which is generally unstable and contains a short lifetimeProduces a cation which many time acts a stable ion after the removal of an electron
Energy Difference
Always equals to the difference of energies of the electrons present in the two orbitsPresent in so much amount that the electron extricates it from the atom but the kinetic energy outside the atom is zero
Charge Change
An electron jumps from a lower energy level to an upper energy level but doesn’t leave it, so the charge present on the atom doesn’t changeAn electron is so much excited that it actually breaks down from the atom and then increasing the charge of the atom
Importance in Energy Levels
The step which is present in the ionization potentialThe whole process

What is Excitation?

Excitation is known as the result of energy being given to an electron for the transmission of it from a lower level to a higher energy level. The electron does not leave the atom, and it will continue to orbit the nucleus until the electro energy level becomes greater than the ionization energy level of the atom.

Excitation usually causes the change of the system’s energy from a ground energy state to an excited energy state. In excitation, the excited systems contain distinct values other than the distribution of energies because the process of excitation occurs only when an atom absorbs a specific part of the energy.

The same process of excitation is for protons, electrons, and neutrons present in the atomic nuclei can be excited when the required amount of energy is provided to them. Compared to electrons, the energy of the nucleus is very high, and the great amount of energy is required to move it to an excited state.

What is Ionization Potential?

When enough energy is given to the electron to remove it from the energy levels, then this is known as ionization potential. A gas contains an electric current that is present in fluorescent tubes passes through it and causes the electrons to become excited and ionize. As a result, when electrons move again towards the ground state, the loose energy in the form of UV radiations which is further absorbed by the coating in the tube light and then emits visible light.

The removal of loosely bound electrons is an endothermic process (The process in which energy is absorbed from the outside). Hence, the ionization potential contains a positive value. In most general form, the closer the electron to the atomic nucleus, the higher will be the ionization potential.

In the periodic table, the ionization energy tends to decrease down the group because of the increase in atomic size. As the size of the atom increases, the attraction between the farthest electron from the nucleus decreases, and in this way, it is easy to remove that electron. As less energy is required to remove the electron, so the ionization energy is decreased.

Key Differences

  1. The energy required for the movement of an electron from one energy level to another energy level is known as the excitation state of that electron; on the other hand, the energy required for folder translation of electron from the first level to infinity is known as the ionization potential.
  2. The excitation of electrons is the steps in the whole process of energy levels, while the ionization potential of an electron describes the whole process of energy levels.
  3. In excitation, the charge present on the atom doesn’t change when an electron jumps from higher energy level to a lower energy level but does not leave the atom; on the contrary, in ionization potential, the charge present on the atom changes because the electron gets so much excited that it breaks free from the atom.
  4. The excitation of an electron is the addition of a separate quantity of energy into a specific system such as an atom, a molecule, or an atomic nucleus, whereas the ionization potential is the amount of energy needed to remove the most lightly bound electrons from a neutral gaseous arrangement.

Conclusion

The above discussion concludes that excitation and ionization potential are the two terms that are used to explain the correlation between energy changes and energy behavior. The difference between them is that excitation is used to explain the transmission of an electron from an inferior energy level to an upper energy level, whereas ionization potential is used to explain the complete removal of an electron from the energy level.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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