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TITLE: Photoelectric Phenomena of Dyed and Undyed Gelatin

For a material to exhibit photoelectric effect it must consist of electrons free enough to be
dislodged from its surface when light shines upon it; it must be conductive. Therefore, for
gelatin, a substance obtained from a fibrous protein called collagen, to be electrically conductive,
this phenomenon must likewise be observed. We will also determine whether the dye on gelatin
would affect this attribute in any way. We shall verify this property using a photoelectric effect
apparatus and gathering values for certain variables.
Gelatin is a colorless solid substance derived from a fibrous protein greatly found in
connective tissues and bones of animals, known as collagen, through partial hydrolysis. It is a
nearly tasteless and odorless substance containing 8-13% moisture and with 1.3-1.4 relative
density. Aside from its use as gelling agent in food, it can also be used in the pharmaceutical,
photographic, and cosmetic industries. Several varieties of gelatin can be classified by the
hydrolytic treatment used as well as the collagen source.
Throughout the years, protein has been speculated as electrically conductive as its
structural features were observed of having the ability to facilitate electron transfer in a given
solution. Given that collagen is the main constituent found in gelatin, we use this knowledge to
determine whether or not protein even after structural alteration and synthesis may still be
considered conductive. We’ll also be considering whether dye or color of the substance will have
any effect on its conductivity once this property is verified. Knowing this, not only will gelatin
be used for its previously stated functions but possibly as electrical conductors as well. We’ll
also be able to take into account the substance’s proper storage so as no unnecessary effects in its
properties will take place.
In this study, we will apply the concept of photoelectric effect. A phenomenon explained
by a number of scientists, the photoelectric effect states that as electromagnetic radiation (light)
strikes a surface of a photosensitive material, electrons will be emitted from that surface. This
means that in order for electrons to be discharged from the surface of the material, the material
must contain free electrons able to escape the surface as they absorb energy from the light casted;
in other words, this material must be a conductor. If this phenomenon is observed when gelatin
is used, we can arrive at a conclusion that gelatin is itself conductive.
The following equations explain the photoelectric effect and will be employed in this
E= K
+ W
(Eq’n 1)
where K
is the maximum kinetic energy of the discharged electrons and W
known as the
work function,

is the energy required to dislodge these electrons from the surface of the material.
E, on the other hand, is the energy released by the quantum of light:
E= hv (Eq’n 2)
For an electron to escape the surface of a conductor it requires at least W
of its total energy;
is in this case will be the energy the electron uses to produce a photoelectric current. This
current can be reduced, however, if a reducing potential is placed between the anode and
cathode; a potential known as the stopping potential
which is related to the maximum kinetic
energy of the electrons:
= eV (Eq’n 3)
where V is the stopping potential while e is the electron charge. Combining all three equations, V
can then be solved by:
V =

v -

(Eq’n 4)

A Photoelectric Effect Apparatus shall be used in this experiment. The optical setup
consists of a high intensity mercury lamp, along with a series of lenses and filters of five
different wavelengths (365nm, 405nm, 436nm, 546nm, 577nm). For the monochromatic light to
exclusively reach the cathode of the phototube in the setup, the optical system must be confined
and isolated so that no outside light may interfere with the system.

Figure 1. The Optical Setup
1. Open the aperture wide enough for the slit to be completely light-casted by the mercury
2. Adjust the collimator for parallel light to pass through the filters. Do this by focusing the
reflected light on the slit.
3. Direct the beam through the imaging lens and onto the phototube by adjusting the mirror.
4. Adjust the imaging lens until an image of the slit is detected on the cathode of the
5. Readjust the mirror ensuring that no light reaches the anode.

Modern Physics, (Tipler & Llewellyn, 4
ed.). 2004. W.H. Freeman and Company

GMIA, Gelatin Handbook. Retrieved from: http://www.gelatin-

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Nordqvist, J. “What is Collagen?” Retrieved from:

“Protein as Solid-state Electronic Conductors” Retrieved from:

Humphrey, D. L.“Photoelectric Effect” Retrieved from:,%20AP-8209.pdf