Thermal Physics Problems & Solutions
Modern Physics

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Thermal Physics Problems & Solutions
Modern Physics

© All Rights Reserved

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Physics NYC

(from Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway and Beichner, 5th edition)

Problems

40.3

40.6

40.7

40.8

40.15

40.17

40.18

40.35

40.9

Given: A light bulb has a tungsten filament.

T = temperature of the filament = 2 900 K

Required to find: max = the peak wavelength of the filament at the given temperature.

Solution: The graph shows how the intensity of blackbody radiation varies with wavelength at various

temperatures. We see that as the temperature of the black body increases,

the peak of the distribution shifts to

shorter wavelengths (e.g., an object

that glows red is not as hot as one that

glows bluish-white). This behavior is

described by Wiens displacement law:

which the curve peaks and T is the

absolute temperature of the object

emitting the radiation.

Assuming that the tungsten filament of

the light bulb is a black body, its peak

wavelength at a temperature T = 2 900 K is

max = 999 nm

This answer shows that when the temperature of the tungsten filament is 2 900 K, its peak wavelength is in the

infrared region of the em spectrum, far from the visible region of the spectrum (400 to 700 nm). This suggests

that most of the energy emitted by a lightbulb goes into infrared radiation, which is not visible to us.

Chapter 40 - Part A

Given: R = radius of the Sun = 6.96 108 m

P = total power output of the Sun = 3.77 1026 W

Required to find: (a) T = the surface temperature of the Sun, and

(b) max = the peak wavelength for the Sun.

Solution:

(a) We assume that the Sun's surface emits as a black body. The intensity of radiation of the Sun is its total

power output P per surface area A. If we consider the Sun to be a sphere of radius R, then A = 4R2. Therefore,

From Stefan's law, I = T 4, we find that the surface temperature of the Sun is

T = 5.75 103 K

(b) The peak wavelength of the Sun can be calculated from Wien's displacement law (see the solution of

Problem 40.3),

max = 504 nm

This wavelength corresponds to the yellow-green light which is near the center of the visible

spectrum. Because it is the most prevalent color in sunlight, our eyes have evolved to be most

sensitive to light of approximately this wavelength.

Given: One photon has a frequency of 620 THz, a second one a frequency of 3.10 GHz, and a third one a

frequency of 46.0 MHz.

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Chapter 40 - Part A

For each photon find its energy E, its wavelength , and its classification on the electromagnetic (em)

spectrum.

Solution: The energy E of a photon of frequency f is given by

E = hf

where h is Planck's constant, whose value is h = 6.626 10 34 J.s, and the wavelength of this photon can be

found from the relation

c = f .

The energy of a photon is commonly given in electron volts. An electron volt (eV) is defined as the energy an

electron gains or loses by moving through a potential difference of 1 Volt (V). Because the charge of the

electron is 1.60 10 19 Coulomb (C), and because 1 V = 1 J/C, the electron volt is related to the joule as

follows:

(i) For the photon of frequency f = 620 THz = 620 1012 Hz = 6.20 1014 Hz, we have:

E = 2.57 eV

= 484 nm

To determine the classification of this wavelength on the em spectrum, we refer to Figure 34.17

of Serway and Beichner and its accompanying discussion. We see that this wavelength (which

corresponds to the wavelength of blue light) is in the visible region of the electromagnetic

spectrum.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum.

Radio waves

with 's in the range from more than 104 m to 0.1 m, the result of charges

accelerating through conducting wires, generated by electronic devices, used in

radio and TV communication systems

Chapter 40 - Part A

Microwaves

with 's ranging from 0.3 m to 104 m, generated by electronic devices, used

by radar, Bell Telephone's microwave link across Canada, etc.

Infrared waves

with 's ranging from 103 m to 700 nm, better known as heat waves

Visible light

with 's between 400 nm (for violet light) to 700 nm (for red light), the

part of the em spectrum that the human eye can detect, produced by the

rearrangement of electrons in atoms and molecules

(ii) Similarly, for the photon of frequency f = 3.10 GHz = 3.10 109 Hz, we have:

E = 12.8 eV

= 9.68 cm

(microwave)

(c) Similarly for the photon of frequency f = 46.0 MHz = 46.0 106 Hz, we have:

neV

1 THz = 1012 Hz

1 MHz = 106 Hz

1 nm = 10 9 m

1 GHz = 109 Hz

1 eV = 10 6 eV

1 neV = 10 9 eV

Given: P = the power output of a sodium-vapor lamp = 10.0 W

Chapter 40 - Part A

Required to find: R = the number of photons per second emitted by the source

Solution: The total energy emitted per second is equal to the power output of the lamp, that is,

P = 10.0 W = 10.0 J/s

Each photon emitted by the lamp has an energy

The lamp emits a huge amount of photons per second. So huge that it is impossible for us to be aware of

individual photons!

Given: P = the power output of an FM radio transmitter = 150 kW = 1.50 105 W

where 1 kW = 103 W

f = frequency at which the radio transmitter operates = 99.7 MHz = 9.97 107 Hz

where 1 MHz = 106 Hz

Required to find: R = the number of photons per second emitted by the transmitter

Solution: Each photon emitted by the transmitter has an energy

Because the power output of the transmitter is the rate at which it delivers energy per unit time, the number of

photons per second emitted by the transmitter is

Chapter 40 - Part A

Given: = the work function of Molybdenum = 4.20 eV

Required to find:

(a) the cutoff wavelength and cutoff frequency for the photoelectric effect, &

(b) the stopping potential if the incident light has a wavelength of 180 nm.

Solution:

(a) When light of frequency f is incident on a metal surface it can - if the conditions are right - liberate electrons

from that surface. This is called the photoelectric effect. When a photon is absorbed by the metal, its total

energy hf is imparted to a single electron within the metal. The energy acquired by the electron may enable it to

leave the surface of the metal and escape it if it is moving toward the surface with sufficient energy. The

electron needs a minimum energy , called the work function of the metal, in order to be ejected from it. If the

energy hf received from the incident light quantum is greater than , the electron retains kinetic energy after

leaving the surface. Because electrons absorb photons at various depths within the metal and acquire initial

velocities in various directions, there will be a distribution of energy of the electrons emerging from the

surface. But the maximum kinetic energy Kmax of electrons emitted from a metal on which light of frequency f

is incident is given by what is called the Einstein photoelectric equation

Kmax = hf

If the frequency of the incident light falls below some cutoff frequency fc, no photoelectrons are

emitted from the metal because absorption of a photon does not impart sufficient energy to an

electron for it to be ejected from the metal surface. Hence, the maximum kinetic energy becomes

zero at the cutoff frequency. Putting Kmax = 0 and f = fc in the above equation, we get

0 = hfc

fc = /h.

Therefore, the cutoff frequency for Molybdenum is, after converting from eV to J,

fc = 1.014 1015 Hz

Chapter 40 - Part A

The cutoff wavelength corresponding to the above cutoff frequency is, from c = f,

c = 296 nm

(b) In a typical apparatus for studying the photoelectric effect, light strikes a metal surface in an evacuated

tube. The photoelectrons ejected from the irradiated surface are attracted to a positive collection electrode at the

other end of the tube, and the current that results is measured with an ammeter. For light frequencies well

above the cutoff frequency, some of the electrons are emitted from the metal surface with considerable energy.

The maximum energy of the photoelectrons can be determined by reversing the polarity of the voltage. As the

stopping electrode is made more negative, a point is reached where no electrons have sufficient kinetic energy

to reach it. The stopping potential Vs is the potential difference (voltage) between the metal and the stopping

electrode required to stop the fastest photoelectrons and therefore bringing the photoelectric current to zero.

From the measurement of the stopping potential Vs, the maximum kinetic energy Kmax of the photoelectrons

can be determined by using the work energy theorem:

Kmax = eVs

where e is magnitude of the charge on the electron. Because Kmax = hf = hc/ , it follows

that

Vs = 2.70 V.

Given: = 400 nm = wavelength of the light incident on lithium, beryllium, and mercury

Li = work function of lithium (Li) = 2.30 eV

Be = work function of beryllium (Be) = 3.90 eV

Hg = work function of mercury (Hg) = 4.50 eV

Required to determine: (a) which metals exhibit the photoelectric effect, and

(b) the maximum kinetic energy for the photoelectrons in each case

Chapter 40 - Part A

Solution:

(a) For the photoelectric effect to occur, a photon of the incident light must have enough energy E to overcome

the work function of the metal . The work function of a metal is the minimum energy required by an electron

in the metal to be ejected from its surface (see the solution of Problem 40.15).

The energy of each photon in the incident light of 400-nm wavelength is

Because this energy is greater than the work function of Li, but smaller than that of Be or Hg, the

photoelectric effect will be exhibited by Li, but not by Be or Hg.

(b) The maximum kinetic energy of the ejected photoelectrons in the Li case is

Kmax = E = 3.11 eV 2.30 eV

Kmax = 0.81 eV

Given: A student studying the photoelectric effect from two different metals records the following information:

(i) the stopping potential Vs for photoelectrons released from metal 1 is 1.48 V larger than that for metal 2,

and

(ii) the cutoff frequency fc for metal 1 is 40.0% smaller than that for metal 2.

Required to find: the work function for each metal.

Solution:

The information recorded by the student can be stated in equation form as follows:

Vs1 = Vs2 + 1.48 V

(1)

(2)

If we multiply both sides of Equation (1) by e (for charge of the electron), we get

e Vs1 = e Vs2 + 1.48 eV

Because e Vs is related to Kmax by the equation Kmax = e Vs

we can rewrite Equation (1) as

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Chapter 40 - Part A

Since, by Einstein photoelectric equation

Kmax = hf

(3)

then

(hf 1) = (hf 2) + 1.48 eV

where f is the frequency of the light used by the student (the same for both metals). Simplifying, we get

1 = 2 + 1.48 eV

2 = 1 + 1.48 eV

(4)

Now, we know that when Kmax = 0 (no photoelectric effect), f = fc. Substituting this into Equation (3) gives

0 = hfc

hfc =

fc = /h

1/h = 0.60 2/h

1 = 0.60 2

2 = 0.60 2 + 1.48 eV

2 = 3.70 eV

And, since

1 = 0.60 2

1 = 2.22 eV

(For an explanation of the terms used in this solution, see the solution of Problem 40.15.)

Required to prove that the wavelengths for the Balmer series satisfy the equation

Chapter 40 - Part A

where n = 3, 4, 5, ...

Solution:

When the hydrogen atom is appropriately stimulated, the electron is excited into a higher energy orbit that is

farther from the nucleus. When it drops back to some inner orbit, the electron emits its excess energy as a

photon of energy hf. Thus, if an atom changes from an initial state of energy Ei to a final state of (lower) energy

Ef, the energy of the emitted photon is

Ei Ef = hf

(1)

An electron starting from any (outer) orbit for which ni = n > 2 and then jumping to the (inner) orbit for which

nf = 2 would emit radiation of a wavelength equal to that of one line of the Balmer series (see the figure).

The energies of the stationary states of the hydrogen atom are given by

(2)

so that

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Chapter 40 - Part A

Substituting this value into Equation (1) and knowing that the frequency of the photon is related to its

wavelength by the equation c = f, we get

where n = 3, 4, 5, ...

(Q.E.D.)

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