What Did Ernest Schrodinger Contribute to the Atomic Theory?


Vincent White

Ernest Schrodinger was a renowned Austrian physicist and mathematician who made significant contributions to the field of atomic theory. In this article, we will explore his work and how it helped shape our understanding of the atom.

Schrodinger’s Wave Equation

One of Schrodinger’s most notable contributions to atomic theory is his development of the wave equation. This equation describes the behavior of electrons in an atom and revolutionized our understanding of quantum mechanics.

The wave equation is a mathematical formula that predicts the probability of finding an electron in a specific location around the nucleus. This equation is based on the concept that electrons behave like waves rather than particles, which was a radical departure from previous models.

Quantum Mechanics

Schrodinger’s work on the wave equation helped lay the foundation for quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that deals with the behavior and interactions of subatomic particles. Quantum mechanics has led to numerous technological advancements, including transistors, lasers, and MRI machines.

One key aspect of quantum mechanics is that it allows for uncertainty in measurements at the atomic level. This uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know both the position and momentum of an electron with absolute precision.

Schrodinger’s Cat Paradox

Aside from his contributions to atomic theory, Schrodinger is also known for his famous thought experiment called Schrodinger’s cat paradox. This experiment deals with fundamental principles in quantum mechanics such as superposition and entanglement.

In this experiment, a cat is placed inside a sealed box alongside a radioactive material and a Geiger counter. If the Geiger counter detects radiation, a hammer will break open a bottle containing poison gas, killing the cat.

According to quantum mechanics principles, until we observe whether or not radiation has been detected by the Geiger counter, we can assume that the cat is both alive and dead at the same time. This paradox highlights the strange and counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanics.


Ernest Schrodinger’s contributions to atomic theory helped shape our understanding of the behavior of subatomic particles. His work on the wave equation paved the way for quantum mechanics, which has led to numerous technological advancements. Additionally, his thought experiment on Schrodinger’s cat paradox continues to fascinate and puzzle scientists to this day.