quantum

In physics, a quantum (pl.: quanta) is the minimum amount of any physical entity (physical property) involved in an interaction. Quantum is a discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents. The fundamental notion that a chemical property can be "quantized" is referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude of the physical property can take on only discrete values consisting of integer multiples of one quantum. For example, a photon is a single quantum of light of a specific frequency (or of any other form of electromagnetic radiation). Similarly, the energy of an electron bound within an atom is quantized and can exist only in certain discrete values. (Atoms and matter in general are stable because electrons can exist only at discrete energy levels within an atom.) Quantization is one of the foundations of the much broader physics of quantum mechanics. Quantization of energy and its influence on how energy and matter interact (quantum electrodynamics) is part of the fundamental framework for understanding and describing nature.

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