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Particles and Waves

Joseph F. Alward, PhD Department of Physics University of the Pacific Louis deBroglie (1892-1987)

Important Terms and Concepts

Blackbody: An ideal entity which absorbs all electromagnetic radiation incident on it, and reemits it all. Planck's Constant: h = 6.63 x 10-34 J-s Photon Energy: E = h f Work Function W0 : The least energy an electron in metal must acquire to escape the metal's surface KEmax = hf - W0 Electron mometum: p = mv deBroglie Wavelength: = h / p Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: px > h / 2 Et > h / 2

Blackbody Radiation

Prism disperses electromagnetic energy into its component parts.

Hot objects emit red and orange, while very hot objects emit red, orange, and blue light.

The Radiation Spectrum from Hot Objects

This filament is not yet hot enough to emit significant amounts of blue light.

This filament is emitting all of the colors of the rainbow, which makes it "white" hot.

Planck's Quantum

Planck explained the blackbody radiation spectrum by postulating that the radiation was emitted by oscillating atoms, and furthermore that the energy was quantized. The energy of these "atomic oscillators" had to be an integer multiple of hf, where f is the frequency of vibration of the atoms and h = 6.63 x 10-34 J-s.
Max Planck (1858-1947) German physicist 1918 Nobel Prize

E = nhf

n = 0, 1, 2, 3, .........

Albert Einstein later applied a similar quantum concept to light.

The Photoelectric Effect

Blue light will eject electrons from metal, but red light will not.

Important Persons in Early 20th Century Physics

Einstein explained the photoelectric effect by assuming that electromagnetic energy (light) manifests itself as quanta of energy-or, "photons"--of energy hf: E = hf Solvay Conference, 1911

f = frequency of light

Work Function
KEmax = hf - W0 ----------------------------------------------Problem: A metal has a workfunction 8 x 10-19 J. What is the maximum kinetic energy of electrons emitted from the metal when light of frequency f = 2 x 1015 Hz is shone on the surface? Solution: KEmax = 5.26 x 10-19 J

Photon Energy Example

How many photons stream forth in one hour from a light bulb radiating 100 watts of light energy? Assume = 500 nm. -------------------------------------------------------c=f f=c/ = (3 x 108 m/s) / (500 x10-9 m) = 6 x 1014 Hz E=hf = (6.63 x 10-34 J-s) (6 x 1014 s-1) = 3.98 x 10-19 J

(Solution continued) 100 watts = 100 J/s One hour = 3600 s Total energy radiated = 3.6 x 105 J N = 3.6 x 105 J / 3.98 x 10-19 J = 9 x 1023

The ElectronVolt (eV) and the Rule of 1240

The kinetic energy of an electron accelerated across a potential difference of one volt is one electronvolt (eV). The eV is not a unit of charge, or a unit of voltage; it is a unit of energy. The energy E in electronvolts (eV) of a photon is related to its wavelength in nanometers (nm) through the following relationship: E = (1240 eV-nm) /

Photoelectric Effect
Problem Light of wavelengh = 400 nm is shone on a metal surface whose work function W0 is 2.0 ev. What is the maximum kinetic energy of the photoemitted electrons? Solution E = 1240 / 400 = 3.1 eV KE = 3.1 - 2.0 = 1.1 eV

Photocells in Medicine

Absorption of light by a bacteria cell causes a drop in the number of photons absorbed by the photocell and a drop in the current.

Photocells in Garage Door Openers

Light to photocell is interrupted, and the corresponding drop in photocurrent signals the motor to reverse.

Photocells in Movie Film

Optical sound track is like a bar-code, but much more detailed. Track modulates the intensity of the light at a frequency which is the same as the sound which was used to produced the track.

The De Broglie Wavelength

In 1923 PhD thesis submitted at the University of Sorbonne, in Paris, deBroglie postulated that matter has a wave-like attribute--a wavelength given by
Louis deBroglie (1892-1987) (rhymes with Troy) French aristocrat 1929 Nobel Prize

= h/mv This theory was compatible with Einstein's E = mc2 theory, which held that matter and radiant energy were interconvertible.

Louis deBroglie's proposal was considered outlandish until Herr Professor Einstein gave his enthusiastic approval, and deBroglie's degree was granted

The De Broglie Wavelength

Louis deBroglie (1892-1987) 1929 Nobel Prize

------------------------p = momentum = h/p Electron beam produces a pattern similar to the one produced by light

Electron's de Broglie Wavelength

What is the wavelength of an electron moving at a speed v = 2 x 104 m/s? ----------------------------------------------------m = 9.1 x 10-31 kg p = 18.2 x 10-27 kg-m/s h = 6.63 x 10-34 J-s =h/p = 3.6 x 10-8 m = 360 x 10-10 m = 36 x 10-9 m = 36 nm

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) 1932 Nobel Prize

Observing an object changes its momentum and energy.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Relations

px > h/2
If one attempts to locate a particle to within an uncertainty x, then the least uncertainty p there will be in the particle's momentum is p = (h/2) / x

t > h/2
If a particle exists for a time period, then the least uncertainty E there will be in the particle's energy is

E = (h/2) / t

Heisenberg Uncertainty Example

Example: An electron is observed for a period of time long enough to ascertain its position to within one angstrom. What is the least uncertainty in the electron's velocity? x = 1 x 10-8 m p = (6.63 x 10-34) / (2) / (1 x 10-8) = 1.055 x 10-26 kg-m/s m = 9.1 x 10-31 kg mv = p v = 1.2 x 104 m/s

Photoelectric Effect

What is it? The photoelectric effect is a means of converting light energy into electrical energy.

When light strikes certain metals (such as potassium), electrons break free of the metal. These free electrons can then be attracted to a nearby positive pole or terminal, creating a flow of electric current. This phenomenon is called the photoelectric effect. Give me an example! Have you ever wondered how a fully automatic camera can take great pictures without being set? The camera has a built-in light meter. When light comes into the light meter, it strikes a metal object that releases electrons and creates a current. This automatically opens and closes the lens to adjust for high and low lighting conditions. Smoke detectors and some burglar alarms also operate using this basic principle of the photoelectric effect

The photoelectric effect has many practical applications which include the photocell, photoconductive devices and solar cells. A photocell is usually a vacuum tube with two electrodes. One is a photosensitive cathode which emits electrons when exposed to light and the other is an anode which is maintained at a positive voltage with respect to the cathode. Thus when light shines on the cathode, electrons are attracted to the anode and an electron current flows in the tube from cathode to anode. The current can be used to operate a relay, which might turn a motor on to open a door or ring a bell in an alarm system. The system can be made to be responsive to light, as described above, or sensitive to the removal of light as when a beam of light incident on the cathode is interrupted, causing the current to stop. Photocells are also useful as exposure meters for cameras in which case the current in the tube would be measured directly on a sensitive meter. Closely related to the photoelectric effect is the photoconductive effect which is the increase in electrical conductivity of certain non metallic materials such as cadmium sulfide when exposed to light. This effect can be quite large so that a very small current in a device suddenly becomes quite large when exposed to light. Thus photoconductive devices have many of the same uses as photocells. Solar cells, usually made from specially prepared silicon, act like a battery when exposed to light. Individual solar cells produce voltages of about 0.6 volts but higher voltages and large currents can be obtained by appropriately connecting many solar cells together. Electricity from solar cells is still quite expensive but they are very useful for providing small amounts of electricity in remote locations where other sources are not available. It is likely however that as the cost of producing solar cells is reduced they will begin to be used to produce large amounts of electricity for commercial use.


Photocell A vacuum tube in which electric current will flow when light strikes the photosensitive cathode. Photoconductivity The substantial increase in conductivity acquired by certain materials when exposed to light. Photoelectric effect The ejection of an electron from a material substance by electromagnetic radiation incident on that substance. Photoelectron Name given the electron ejected in the photoelectric effect. Solar cell A device by which sunlight is converted into electricity. Work function The amount of energy required to just remove a photoelectron from a surface. This is different for different materials.