Quantization : a discontinuous universe
In the quantum world, particles can only assume certain energies. Imagine a car that could only run at certain specific speeds and would directly accelerate from 30 to 50 mph! Why?
Because particles are waves and do not assume just any shape: for each shape there is a corresponding energy, and that is what quantization is.
These energy levels help us to understand the atomic structure and to create new technological devices.
In laboratory : Electron boxes
In the clean rooms of our labs, physicists have been able to carve patterns to within one ten-billionth of a metre accuracy, with the help of new devices ! For instance they have designed nanoboxes a few atoms wide in order to imprison electrons. They use these boxes to study matter on a nanometre scale and to control its colour and its electric and magnetic properties.
Practical application : Quantum gems
We can see the quantization of energies in our daily lives, in the colour of gems for instance. Thus, rubies are red because they contain a few atoms of chromium, whose energy levels are separated in such a way that we see rubies reflect a red light. Thanks to ingenious physicists who have manipulated these energy levels, we now have lasers and LEDs.