The Pressure Broadening of Spectral Lines

Phys. Rev. 69, 616 – Published 1 June 1946
H. M. Foley


The Fourier integral expression for the intensity distribution in a pressure broadened line is derived from the quantum radiation theory with an adiabatic collision approximation. The phase shift approximation to the solution is obtained with the actual distribution of phase shifts taken into account. It is shown that in general there is a shift in line position as well as a line broadening both proportional to the pressure. The ratio of the shift to the broadening depends only on the power of the intermolecular distance with which the interaction decreases. Experimental values of this ratio in foreign gas broadening are on the average consistent with the inverse sixth power. The predicted line widths are slightly larger than those given by Weisskopf. Good agreement with the observed line width is found for most of the alkali metals absorption lines. Calculated line widths and shifts are given for the vibration-rotation lines of linear polar molecules. A method for treating non-adiabatic collisions is given. The conditions for which the Lorentz line form transforms to the Margenau-type line form are indicated. It is shown that the Jablonski wave mechanical treatment of translational motion leads to the same line forms as the Fourier integral method under the proper physical conditions.


  • Received 7 February 1946
  • Published in the issue dated June 1946

© 1946 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

H. M. Foley*

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • *Now at Columbia University, New York City.

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