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Module 1 – Space

The Earth has a gravitational field that exerts a force on objects both on it and
around it.

a) Define weight as the force on an object due to a gravitational field

Weight is defined as the force acting upon the mass of an object due to a gravitational field – gravity
(in most cases a large celestial body, such as the Earth).

 F = weight force, measured in Newtons (N)

 M = mass of the object in kilograms (Kg)
 g = gravitational acceleration on the object due to the
presence of gravitational field, measured in ms-2 (9.8ms-
/ on the surface of the Earth)

b) Perform an investigation and gather information to determine a value for acceleration due to
gravity using pendulum motion or computer-assisted technology and identify reasons for possible
variations from the value 9.8ms-2.

Using a Pendulum to determine ‘g’:

Aim – Determine the value of acceleration due to gravity using the motion of a pendulum.

Equipment: Stop watch, retort stand, boss head and clamp, string, metre rule, 50g bob mass.
Theory – When the pendulum is under its back and forth motion, it is performing an approximation
of simple harmonic motion. The period of oscillation (T) – complete back and forth swing depends
upon two variables –

1) The length of the string

2) Acceleration due to gravity

The formula of T is given by:

√ Rearranging the equation we get = gradient of graph of

T = Time period (S)

l = length of pendulum
g = acceleration due to gravity

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Module 1 – Space
1. A retort stand and clamp was set up on the edge of a desk as shown in the picture
2. A 90cm string was attached to the end of a 50g mass carrier as well as the clamp.
3. A metre rule was used to measure the length of the pendulum from the knot to the
centre of the mass and the result was recorded.
4. The mass was pulled to the side so that the string made an angle of less than 10° to the
vertical and was released.
5. The time for 10 oscillations was recorded.
6. The length was reduced by 10cm increments and the process was repeated another 4
A graph of T2 on the vertical axis versus the length on the horizontal axis was plotted. The gradient of
the line of best fit equals . The value of g was then calculated

Assessment of Pendulum Experiment:


 Tested over a large range of values

 Controlled experiment – 1 controlled variable and 1 independent variable
 Allows acceleration due to gravity to be calculated.


 Take several readings for each trial and then use average.
 Repeat experiment and check for consistency in results


 Using a stopwatch is more accurate than a wrist watch in measuring time.

 Allow for several oscillations to occur and then start the time, instead of starting the time as
soon as the pendulum is released.

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Module 1 – Space
c) Gather secondary information to predict the value of acceleration due to gravity on other planets

( ) – Weight force
( ) - Universal Law of Gravitation


 G = Universal gravitation constant – 6.67 x 10-11 N.m2.Kg-2

 mp = mass of planet
 rp = radius of planet

d) Explain that a change in gravitational potential energy is related to work done.

Work is done on an object when a force is applied on it, moving it a certain distance.

 W = Work done (J – Joules)

 F = force
 S = displacement

When work is done on an object there is a change in the kinetic and potential energy of the object. If
we were to lift an object to a height above the ground, we would be doing work on the object. The
potential energy of the object increases and is now called gravitational potential energy (G.P.E), as
work is being done against the force of gravity.

G.P.E (Ep) = mgh

 G.P.E = gravitational potential energy
 M = mass of object
 H = height of object above ground
 G = acceleration due to gravity

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Module 1 – Space
e) Define gravitational potential energy as the work done to move an object from a very large
distance away to a point in a gravitational field.

Gravitational potential energy is defined as the energy required moving an object from infinity to a
point inside a gravitational field.

According to the Law of universal gravitation, the strength of the attractive force (gravitational field)
will become zero only when the distance becomes infinity, as this law follows the inverse square law.
. Hence we take our reference point as: G.P.E = 0 at infinity.

As it is still the same where work must be done to move an object away from Earth, after this
positive work is done till infinity, the potential energy is zero meaning it must be negative when near
the Earth.
This means that at any point from infinity towards the surface of the earth, G.P.E will be negative.

 G.P.E – gravitational potential energy

(Joules (J))
 G – universal gravitation constant
( )  (Re + h) – radius of planet + altitude
 m1,m2 – mass of planet, mass of object

Graph of G.P.E v distance from the Earth

EGP = EGPf - EGPi = [ ]

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Module 1 – Space
Many factors have to be taken into account to achieve a successful rocket launch,
maintain a stable orbit and return to Earth.
a) Describe the trajectory of an object undergoing projectile motion within the Earth’s gravitational
field in terms of horizontal and vertical components

A projectile is any object that is launched into the air, where its motion is only influenced by its
weight (gravity).

Conditions for an object to undergo projectile motion:

 Only force acting upon the object is gravity, it is constant and acting downwards
 An initial horizontal velocity must be present.
 We ignore air resistance, for the sake of simplicity.


As discovered by Galileo, projectile motion can be analysed in terms of two separate components:

1. Horizontal motion(x) – is constant

2. Vertical motion(y) – accelerating at 9.8ms-2

Equations of Projectile Motion:

Horizontal: Where:

1.  – initial horizontal velocity (ms-1)

 – final horizontal velocity(ms-1)
 – time(s)
2.  – range (m)

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Module 1 – Space

1.  u – Initial velocity(ms-1)
 v – final velocity(ms-1)
2.  – initial vertical velocity (ms-1)
 – final vertical velocity (ms-1)
3.  – maximum height (m)
 – acceleration (due to gravity) – 9.8(ms-2)
 – time(s)
Things to Remember:

 Assume no air resistance

 Time to maximum height is equal to time down from maximum height.
 At maximum height, vertical velocity is zero
 The negative sign indicates direction and must be used. Going down is negative.

b) Describe Galileo’s analysis of projectile motion

When Galileo undertook further studies on the motion of falling objects he discovered that:
 The flight path of any projectile is parabolic (parabola)
 All projectiles accelerated at the same rate towards the ground, regardless of their mass.
 The horizontal and vertical components of a projectile are independent of each other.

Galileo tried many experiments to prove those three things, but as air resistance factored many of
the results it became too difficult to prove them. Thus, he resulted to rolling balls down inclined
planes, which reduced the acceleration of the ball, hence reducing the air resistance of the ball.
Rolling balls down inclined planes allowed Galileo to measure the motion of the balls, discovering
that the projectile had two distinct motions independent of each other – vertical and horizontal,
which occurred simultaneously to produce a parabolic path for the projectile.

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Module 1 – Space
c) Perform a first-hand investigation, gather information and analyse data to calculate
the initial and final velocity, maximum height reached, range and time for flight of a
projectile for a range of situations by using simulations, data loggers and compute
AIM: To determine the effect of the angle of a projectile, on its range, time of flight and elevation.
 The maximum range should be when the projectile is launched at 45°.
 The longest flight time should be when the projectile is launched at 90°.
 The maximum elevation should be when the projectile is launched at 90°.
1. A rocket was fired into the air at an angle of 20°.
2. Its range, time of flight and elevation were recorded.
3. This was repeated 5 times.
4. Steps 1-3 were repeated for angles 45° and 75° with a constant velocity.
5. The results were then compared to results gathered from a computer simulation.
Invalidity of our results may have resulted from:
 Wind (especially if performed outdoors)
 Air resistance
 Estimated measurements
 Flat ground
To improve:
 Perform in an indoor environment or even better, in a vacuum
 Heavier projectile
 Better equipment (launcher which has settings to power of the shot and angle)

d) Explain the concept of escape velocity in terms of the:

 Gravitational constant
 Mass and radius of the planet

Escape velocity is the initial velocity required by a projectile to rise vertically and escape a planets
gravitational pull.

For an object to go in to orbit or escape the gravitational pull of a planet, its kinetic energy must be
equal or exceed the planets gravitational potential energy.

[ ]

[ ]

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Module 1 – Space
Rearranging the equation in terms of u:

√  u = escape velocity (ms-1)

 G = gravitational constant (6.67 x
 ME = mass of the earth (6.0 x 1024kg)
 RE = radius of the earth (6378 km)

e) Outline Newton’s concept of escape velocity

Isaac Newton proposed the idea of being able to launch a projectile such that it would be able to
either orbit the earth or escape it entirely. For this he created a hypothetical situation where he
would horizontally shoot cannon balls from a high altitude.

Newton suggested that by firing cannon ball horizontally, the

ball would follow the principles of projectile motion and
travel a certain distance before crashing into the Earth. If a
projectile was launched with a high enough velocity, it natural
parabolic path would match the curvature of the Earth, hence
the ball keep going, where it would completely orbit the
Earth, returning to its firing position. This was the idea that
Newton suggested which brought up the suggestion of firing
the cannon ball at such a velocity, where its natural parabolic
path would entirely escape that of Earth, and escaping orbit.
This velocity is known as escape velocity.

The escape velocity for the Earth is 40 000 kmh-1.

f) Discuss the effect of the Earth’s orbital and rotational motion on the launch on the rocket

A moving platform offers a boost to the velocity of the projectile launched from it, when launched
in the direction of the moving platform.

This same principle applies to rocket launching:

Consider the Earth’s rotational speed, it is roughly 1700km/h, in addition to this the Earth orbital
speed around the Sun is approximately 107000km/h. Thus the Earth is
a moving platform, but in two different ways, one, its rotational speed
and two, its orbital speed around the sun. Rocket launches, can be
timed and positioned specifically to gain this boost.

 Since the Earth rotates towards the East, a rocket can be

inclined such that it launches easterly, effectively gaining a
1700km/h boost from the Earth’s rotational speed.

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Module 1 – Space
 As the Earth is continually orbiting the sun at approx. 107000km/h, a rocket launched can be
timed such that, the direction of the Earth orbital velocity, is heading in the direction the
rocket must go, when this first condition is met,
then the rocket is launched into orbit, then when
the direction of the Earth’s rotation is matched
with the desired direction, the rocket is fired and
goes into space, with this significant boost.

The rocket’s velocity now becomes:

Velocity of rocket relative to the Earth’s rotation +

the velocity of Earth’s orbit relative to the sun

g) Identify why the term ‘g forces’ is used to explain the forces acting on an astronaut during launch

G – Force is a term used to express the ratio of a

person’s apparent weight to their actual weight.

A person’s actual weight is given by WF = mg.

A person’s apparent weight is given by: Wa = mg +
Therefore a person’s G-Force is given by:

 g = acceleration due to gravity

 a = acceleration acting on person

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Module 1 – Space
G-forces in different Situations:

h) Analyse the changing acceleration of a rocket during launch in terms of:

 Law of Conservation of Momentum

Rocket Component:

The rocket consists of two main components:

 Payload and guidance systems, carrying

crew and cargo
 Propulsion system, carrying fuel tanks,
oxidiser (liquid oxygen) and booster

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Module 1 – Space
Forces causing rocket to move:

The force acting on the rocket is known as the thrust force.

We can calculate the acceleration of the rocket by:

If , where ∑ ( ) ( )


The physics behind the motion of the rocket can be understood in terms of the Law of Conservation
of Momentum and Newton’s Third Law of Motion. The laws state:
1. The vector sum of momenta in a closed system is zero; hence the total change in momentum is
2. Every force has an equal and opposite force (action – reaction forces)

As 
Divide by t 

Thus, the force of the hot gases produced by the engine is the action with the normal reaction being
the force of the gas pushing against the rocket, giving it the forward motion.

We can calculate the velocity of the rocket by rearranging the equation:

As Ur and Ug = 0 

 Forces experienced by astronauts

As a rocket is being launched it constantly burning fuel up, decreasing the mass of the rocket.
If the acceleration of the rocket is given by:

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Module 1 – Space
If the thrust produced is constant, and the mass of the rocket is decreasing then it means that
acceleration is increasing. This increasing acceleration affects the astronauts in terms of g – forces.
A normal human being can withstand up to 4g, without many problems, but as the rocket’s
acceleration continually increases, the g-forces can go past this limit and can become a serious issue.
Such as:
 Black out – unconsciousness: All the blood in a person body either flow towards the brain
or away from the brain. This is caused by inertia, when a person is accelerating with the
rocket, their blood ‘stays’ behind. This is potentially dangerous as lack of or too much of
blood can cause a person to become unconscious.
 Eye ball ‘in’ or ‘out’: As the rocket is accelerating, the eyeballs can be placed upon serious
pressure from its socket. Like with blood, a person’s eyeballs are ‘left behind’, but since the
eyeball is inside a socket, the eyes are pushed against the socket’s shell, either pushing
outwards (popping out) or pushing inwards.

Multi – staged rockets are used to effectively keep the

maximum g-force possible down. The g-force starts at 1,
when on the launch pad and then increases up until a
certain time, where the engines are shut off.

 The engines do not shut down straight away

otherwise the astronauts can experience extreme
g forces. Once the first stage is complete, the 1st
stage rocket is detached, and then the next stage

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Module 1 – Space
i) Analyse the forces involved in uniform circular motion for a range of objects, including satellites
orbiting the Earth

Circular motion is the motion of an object in a circular path. If object is at constant speed then it is
called uniform circular motion.

Features of Uniform Circular Motion:

 Velocity is always tangential to the circle.

 The change in velocity ( ) is always towards the centre
 A force must be holding the object in its path, since v is always tangential
 Hence the acceleration (a) is also towards the centre

Centripetal Force:

As the velocity of an object undergoing uniform circular motion is a

tangent to the circular at a particular point, there has to be a force
holding the object in a circular path, otherwise the object would go out
of its circular path at a tangent.

Centripetal force is the force that acts to maintain circular motion and is
directed towards the centre of the circle.

Centripetal Force is given by:

 Fc = Centripetal force – (N)

 M = mass of the object – (Kg)
 V = velocity of the object – (ms-1)
 R = radius of circular path (m)

Example of Circular Motion:

Circular motion Source of centripetal force

Mass on a string whirled in a horizontal Tension in the string


Car driving around a corner Friction between the tyres and the road

Satellite orbiting the Earth Gravitational attraction between the Earth and the

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Module 1 – Space
Centripetal Acceleration:

Even though in uniform circular motion, the object is at

constant speed, its direction is constantly changing,
hence it is acceleration.


Then centripetal acceleration:

The centripetal acceleration is always acting towards the centre of the circle.

j) Define the term orbital velocity, the quantitative and qualitative relationship between orbital
velocity, the gravitational constant, mass of the satellite and the radius of the orbit using Kepler’s
Law of Periods

Orbital velocity is the instantaneous speed and direction on an object in uniform circular motion. In
one time period (T) the object moves a distance equal to the circumference of a circle radius r, thus:

Orbital velocity is derived by equating the centripetal force of an object in orbit with the
gravitational force between the two bodies, as the centripetal force is the gravitational force.

Fc  Fg
V = orbital velocity (ms-1)
mv 2 GMm
 G = 6.67x10-11
r r2 M = mass of the planet (kg)
R = radius of the planet (m)
Kepler’s Third Law of Periods can be derived by equating the equations of orbital velocity:

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Module 1 – Space
√ Squaring both sides 

r = the radius of the orbit (m)

T = the period of the orbit (s)
Therefore 
G = 6.67x10-11
M = mass of the planet (kg)

It can be seen from the above equations that the orbital velocity of a satellite in orbit in undergoing
circular motion, is dependent upon the radius of the orbit and the mass of the central body it is
revolving around. It also tells us that orbital velocity is independent of the mass of the satellite.

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Module 1 – Space
k) Compare quantitatively low Earth orbits and geo-stationary orbits

Geostationary satellites: Satellites which appear to be stationary when viewed from Earth as they
are situated above equator and have the same orbital period.

Low earth orbit satellites: Satellites with smaller orbital radii and greater orbital periods.

Geostationary Low-Earth Orbit

Height of Orbit 35 800 km 200 – 1000km
Time Period 23 hrs. 56 min 1.5 – 2hrs
Position with respect to Above equator –Orbits with the Can be over many places
Earth Earth’s rotation
Average Orbital Velocity 3075ms-1 Approx. 6960ms-1. This is much
higher due to the fact that
there is higher gravitational
force acting on it.
 Do not experience  Scans different areas
orbital decay  Rapid information relay
 Easy to track  Closer view of Earth’s
 Delay in information  More effort is required
transmission to track, as it is moving
 Limited view of Earth’s with a smaller time
surface period
 Can experience  Prone to orbital decay
communication  Constant monitoring of
disruptions, as it can be flight path, to avoid
affected by ionised satellites going out of
charged particles from orbit
Van Allen belts
 Communications –  Weather patterns
information relay  GPS
 Weather monitoring
 Scientific research

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Module 1 – Space
l) Account for the orbital decay in low Earth orbit

Low-Earth orbits, can be well inside the Earth’s atmosphere, this means that they are now prone to
atmospheric drag. Atmospheric drag is the friction between the satellite and the small molecules in
the atmosphere. This friction causes the heating up the satellite which results in the loss of kinetic
energy; hence the velocity decrease as mass is constant. The lower velocity results in a lower orbital
path, but since there is constant friction the velocity will keep decreasing eventually making the
satellite deviate from its path heading towards the Earth. This is the reason that rocket boosters are
attached to the satellite to prevent it from completely leaving orbit, and crashing into Earth.

m) Identify data sources, gather, analyse and present information on the contribution of one of the
following to the development of space exploration: Tsiolkovsky, Oberth, Goddard, Esnault –
Pelterie, O’Neill or von Braun

Von Braun

Wernher Von Braun (1912-1977) was born in Wirsitz, Germany. Von Braun was hired by the military
to lead the rocket artillery unit after they observed Von Braun testing one of his rockets. Von Braun’s
team developed the A-2, A-3 and A-4 which were highly successful. In 1943 Hitler decided to use the
A-4, which became known as the V-2, as a "vengeance weapon” and it was used to bomb London.
During WW2, the SS was ordered to kill the German engineers including Von Braun. Von Braun and
his team managed to surrender to the Americans before they were captured and killed by their own
army. The Americans realised the importance of these engineers. Von Braun and his team were
transferred to the US. It is here that Von Braun developed the Redstone rocket. Over 50 were
successfully launched and it was a modified Redstone rocket which launched the western
hemisphere's first satellite, Explorer 1. This is where America’s space program had begun. NASA
was established and Von Braun led many projects including the Saturn rockets which launched
Apollo 11 and the Skylab, the first space station. Wernher Von Braun was one of the world's first and
foremost rocket engineers and a leading authority on space travel.


Robert Hutchins Goddard (1882-1945) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. He was a college
professor of physics who always had a particular interest in rocketry. Instead of just theorising and
presenting his ideas as other had before him, Goddard actually tested them and conducted
experiments. Arguably his most important achievement was building the world’s first liquid-fuelled
rocket and testing it. In doing this he solved many technical problems such as fuel valving for
throttle, start and stop, fuel injection, engine cooling and ignition. Goddard developed the technique
of having the liquid oxygen cool the combustion chamber on its way from the fuel tank. This method
is still in use and therefore his investigations have definitely improved the knowledge of space travel.

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Module 1 – Space
n) Discuss issues associated with safe re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and landing on the Earth’s

Heating effect:

 The heat is generated as the spacecraft contacts the earth’s atmosphere at high velocity due
to the friction with air molecules. To reduce the effect of the heat, space crafts are
designed with a heat shield made of ablative material that would burn up to disperse heat
on the spacecraft.

o Silica tiles are used for this purpose as they are of low density, are porous and
made from 90% air hence they are very good thermal insulators.

 The shape of the spacecraft will influence the spread and dispersion of the heat that the
spacecraft experiences. Blunt noses are preferred over sharp noses as they produce a
shockwave through the air, which absorbs most of the heat, but it also spreads the heat
out over a large surface area rather than on one particular point.


While re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the angle of re-entry can affect the rate of deceleration.
This means that the astronauts are exposed to greater levels of g-forces. To minimise the effects of
these high g-forces:

 We lay the astronaut flat on his back on a specially contoured seat, perpendicular to the
acceleration, but facing in the direction of it. By the g-forces acting through the back, not
through the axis, it is spread out across the body more evenly, allowing for a more
comfortable ride, but it takes out the black-out situation as blood cannot flow to one
particular area.
o If the acceleration is in the direction of the persons head they may
experience a ‘blackout’ as the blood rushes to the feet.
o If the acceleration is towards the feet, they may experience a ‘red out’
where the blood rushes to their head and retina.

Reaching the Earth’s surface:

Once the space craft has entered the Earth’s atmosphere, it now has to reach the surface in a safe

 Parachutes are released in the last section the space craft’s descent to slow it down before
landing in the ocean or once it has touched down on a landing strip.
 Space crafts have wings which allow the pilot to control its descent, by the wings creating
lift; it creates a retarding force which slows down the craft.

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Module 1 – Space
Ionisation Blackout:

During the space craft’s re-entry it generates very high temperatures due to the friction. This heat
ionises the surrounding atoms, which then forms a layer around the space craft. During this
ionisation blackout all communications with the astronauts and ground staff are cut off since the
radio signals are not able to penetrate through the ionised particle layers, where the time period is
dependent on each re-entry.

o) Identify that there is an optimum angle for safe re-entry for a manned spacecraft into the Earth’s
atmosphere and the consequences of failing to achieve this angle

Angle of Re-Entry:

The optimum angle for space craft re-entry is between 5.2° - 7.2°, the range is known as the ‘re-
entry window’.

 If the angle of re-entry is too shallow (i.e. < 5.2°) then the spacecraft will bounce of
the atmosphere back into space.
 If the angle of re-entry is too steep (i.e. >7.2°) then the space craft will enter the
atmosphere generating temperatures too high that will burn the space craft
completely and it will generate g-forces so high that the crew will not be able to

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Module 1 – Space
The Solar System is held together by gravity.
a) Describe a gravitational field in the region surrounding a massive object in terms of its effects on
other masses in it

A gravitational field is region of influence a large celestial body (the Earth) in which an object will
experience a gravitational force.
In the region of influence a mass would experience a force exerted upon it due to the presence of
another mass. Likewise this other mass too would experience the same force exerted upon it.

Gravitational field around the Earth.

Notice the direction of the lines
(vectors); they all pass through the
centre of the mass.

Each line represents a field vector that describes the strength and direction of the gravitational field
at a particular point.

b) Define Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation:

The Law of Universal Gravitation:

 F = force of gravity between two masses, measured in Newtons (N

-11 2 -2
G = Universal gravitational constant = 6.67 x 10 N.m .kg
 m1, m2 = mass of two objects
 r = distance between centre of mass of both objects

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Module 1 – Space
c) Present information and use available evidence to discuss the factors affecting the strength of the
gravitational force.

The actual value of acceleration due to gravity varies upon one’s location on the Earth. These
variations are cause by:

 The Earth’s lithosphere varies in thickness, there may be higher or lower densities of ore
deposits in the crust, affecting the value of g.
 The Earth in not perfectly spherical, where the poles (North and South) are the closest to the
centre of the Earth and the equator the furthest. Hence g at the poles will be the greatest
and lowest at the equator.
 The rotation of the Earth creates a centripetal force, which effectively reduces the value of g
 The altitude of a person’s position, the higher the person goes the lower the value of g.

d) Discuss the importance of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation in understanding and calculating
the motion of satellites

Satellites orbiting the earth via uniform circular motion must have a force to keep the satellite in
orbit. In this case the centripetal force is Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. Therefore equating
the centripetal force of an object in orbit with Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, we get:

From this formula, the velocity required for the satellite to stay in orbit can be
Fc  Fg calculated which can be affected by the central mass (M) and radius of the
mv 2 GMm central mass (R). This leads to a better understanding in the motion of satellites.
 2
r r
Furthermore, the time period of a satellite in orbit can be calculated using Kepler’s Law of Periods,
but to derive Kepler’s Law of Periods we first must equate both orbital velocity equations:

√ Squaring both sides 

Therefore 

As we can see that Kepler’s Law of Periods is a direct consequence from Newton’s Law of Universal
Gravitation. Without Newton’s formula, calculating and analysing the motion of satellites would
have been a much more difficult concept to comprehend.

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Module 1 – Space
e) Identify that a slingshot effect can be provided by planets for space probes

The slingshot effect is a manoeuvre used by space crafts to pick up speeds and proceed on to
another target. The principle behind this manoeuvre is the conservation of angular momentum.

The slingshot effect can be seen as a one-dimension non-contact elastic collision. Hence when the
manoeuvre takes places energy and momentum is conserved.

The conservation of momentum:

Initial momentum = Final Momentum

( )

Where i = initial, f = final, s = spacecraft, p = planet

Conservation of Kinetic Energy:

Initial kinetic energy = final kinetic energy

By solving these two equations simultaneously, we

get the following expression:

This is the maximum velocity that can be achieved

by the spacecraft using the slingshot effect, when
the non-contact collision is head-on. Since momentum and kinetic energy is conserved, after the
non-contact collision:

 The spacecraft has a gain in momentum and kinetic energy meaning that the planet losses
some of its momentum and kinetic energy, but the amount the planet losses is almost

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Module 1 – Space
Current and emerging understanding about time and space has been dependent
upon earlier models of the transmission of light.
a) Outline the features of the aether model for the transmission of light

The aether was the proposed undetectable medium for light waves to propagate. Also the aether
was thought to be the absolute frame of reference to which all motion was compared to.

Properties of the aether:

 Transparent, fills all of space

 Low density
 Permeate all matter and was permeable to matter
 Is a solid, has a high elasticity to support the propagation of light waves, yet was rigid
enough to allow the transmission of light at very high velocities.

b) Describe and evaluate the Michelson-Morley attempt to measure the relative velocity of the Earth
through the aether

Since the Earth moved around the sun at 30km/s, it was hypothesised that there should be an
‘aether wind’ past the Earth. Physicists believed that the speed of light should vary due to the
‘aether wind’.

Michelson-Morley Experiment:
In an attempt to detect to detect the aether, two US scientists A.A. Michelson and E.W. Morley
conducted an experiment to measure the relative velocity of the Earth to the aether.
 They used the phenomenon of the interference of light (interferometer) to measure
minute distances which indicated an interference change.
 The experiment was conducted at different times to ensure that they did not just test at a
time where the ether and the Earth were moving at the same speed.

1. Light was sent from S and split

into two perpendicular beams
by the half silvered mirror M.
2. The beam M2 travelled with
and against the aether, while
beam M1 travelled across the
3. These two beams are then
reflected back by the mirrors
M1 and M2 and are
recombined in the observer’s
eye where an interference
pattern would be observed.
4. The entire apparatus was
rotated 90°; a change in the
interference pattern was expected.

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Module 1 – Space
 As the apparatus was rotated, the aether wind was expected to cause the light to travel
in different speeds in each direction, thus causing a changing interference pattern (the
beams would become out of phase).
o The velocity of the earth would then be calculated using this interference
 However, despite extensive testing and repetition (different times of the day, different
altitudes, different seasons, etc…) no change in the interference pattern was observed
and the experiment was a null result.

 The null result did NOT disprove the theory of the aether, but led to the conclusion that it
was a flawed model.
 It was later used by Einstein as support for his theory of relativity and to disprove the
aether model.
 It was suggested that the earth ‘carried with it the aether’ so that there was no relative

 The experiment was valid as they controlled the variables, i.e. they changed only one
variable at a time. The experiment was also performed over a series of value (they turned
the interferometer from ).
 The experiment set-up utilised the most sensitive pieces of equipment of that time (precise),
which meant that the results that were returning were very accurate.
 This experiment was very reliable, because no matter how many times the experiment was
performed, even when changing variables (temperature, weather, altitude, and time of
day/year) the same results returned.

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Module 1 – Space
c) Gather and process information to interpret the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment

To better understand the Michelson-Morley experiment a boat analogy is used:

This is basically what the Michelson-Morley experiment did; they raced two light rays within the
interferometer and by finding the difference in time between the lights rays reaching the eyepiece,
they would be able to work out the velocity of the Earth through the aether.

d) Discuss the role of the Michelson-Morley Experiments in making determinations about competing

The Michelson-Morley experiment set out to measure the relative motion between the earth and
the aether. The null result showed the aether hypothesis was invalid.

A hypothesis was made by physicists Fitzgerald and Lorentz to suggest the null result of the
Michelson-Morley experiment. They hypothesised that all bodies are contracted in the direction of
the motion relative to the stationary aether by a factor of:
√ , this factor is now known to be called the Fitzgerald-Lorentz transformation.

Almost twenty years after the Michelson-Morley experiments, Einstein proposed the theory of
relativity, in which the aether model was not needed. The theory of relativity produced its own set
of predictions.

The Michelson-Morley experiment provided supporting evidence for Einstein’s theory allowing a
choice to be made between two conflicting theories:

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Module 1 – Space
1. The aether model in which light was propagated as a wave through a stationary aether
through which the Earth moved.
2. Einstein’s model, part of which specified that light travelled at a constant speed under all

e) Outline the nature of inertial frames of reference

Frames of reference are objects or coordinate systems with respect to which we take measurement.

A frame of reference has 4 dimensions:

 Space:
o X
o Y
o Z
 Time:
o T

Inertial Frames of Reference:

An inertial frame of reference is a frame that is moving a constant velocity or at rest.

In inertial frames of reference:

 There is no net force acting (e.g. no acceleration)

 All of Newton’s Laws of Motion are valid
 There is no mechanical experiment that can be performed from within the frame to
determine whether it is at constant velocity or at rest.

Non-Inertial Frames of Reference:

A non-inertial frame of reference is a frame that is accelerating. In non-inertial frames of reference

Newton’s Laws of Motion are invalid.

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Module 1 – Space
f) Perform and investigation to help distinguish between non-inertial and inertial frames of reference

Aim: To distinguish between inertial and non-inertial frames of reference.


 Inertial frames of reference are at constant velocity or at rest.

 Non-inertial frames of reference are accelerating

We can use mass and a string to determine whether we are in an inertial or non-inertial frame of

Inside of a car hold one end of a string with a mass attached to it so that it hangs vertically.
Observe what happens to the string when the car is:

1. At rest
2. Moving at constant velocity in a straight line
3. Accelerating from rest
4. Turning on a round-about


1. At rest - The string hangs vertically and the mass does not move
2. Moving at constant velocity in a straight lie – The string hangs vertically and the mass does
not move
3. Accelerating from rest - When the car begins to accelerate from rest, the mass will begin to
move in the opposite direction to the motion, and the string will hang at angle from the
4. Turning on a round-about – The mass will move in the opposite direction of the curved
motion, i.e. if car is turning right, mass will move left. Again the string will hang at an angle
to the vertical.


A mass hanging from a string can be used to distinguish between an inertial and non-inertial frame
of reference. In an inertial frame of reference, the mass does not experience any force, hence it
hangs freely, not moving at all. In a non-inertial frame of reference, the mass experiences a force,
hence it moves in the opposite direction to the motion, hanging at an angle to the vertical.

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Module 1 – Space
g) Discuss the principal of relativity

Galilean and Newtonian Relativity, is the basis on what Einstein developed his principles of relativity.

Galilean Relativity:

1. All steady motion is relative.

2. There is no mechanical experiment that can be performed inside an inertial frame of
reference to distinguish whether you are stationary or moving, without taking reference to
an outside frame.

Newtonian Relativity:

1. There is no preferred or absolute frame of reference, hence all inertial frames of reference
are equal and thus the laws of physics are valid in all inertial frames of reference.

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity:

In 1905 Einstein proposed The Special Theory of Relativity; this theory was not complete in the sense
that it is only valid in an inertial frame of reference. His other theory: General Theory of Relativity
includes non-inertial frames of reference, namely his work or gravity.

Einstein Postulated in his Special Theory:

1. All laws of physics are valid in all inertial frames of reference.

2. The speed of light is constant in all inertial frames of reference; it is independent of the
speed of the source or of the observer.

h) Describe the significance of Einstein’s assumption of the constancy of the speed of light

Einstein’s second postulate ‘The speed of light is constant…’ was perhaps his most important
assumption. This postulate explained the null-result of the Michelson-Morley experiment and it also
showed that the aether was not necessary.

It also meant that from whatever inertial frame of reference the speed of light was measured from,
it would be the same, otherwise if it wasn’t it would be violating the principle of relativity. This tells
us that there is no absolute frame of reference, but instead all inertial frames of reference are equal
and that all motion is relative.

The significance of the assumption that speed of light is constant is that it makes us re-think our
understanding of space and time.

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Module 1 – Space
i) Identify that if c is a constant then space and time become relative

In Newtonian physics, traditional physics speed and space were to be taken as relative and time
was taken to be absolute. But with the speed of light being constant, it redefines our
understanding of physics. For the speed of light to be always constant, absolute then time and
space must be relative.

Take for example:

1. In Newtonian Relativity, if a pulse of light were sent from one place to another, different
observers would agree on the time that the journey took (since time is absolute), but
would not always agree on how far the light travelled this means that different observers
would measure different speeds for light.
2. In Einstein’s Special Theory, all observers would agree on how fast the light travelled, but
since they still don’t agree that the distanced travelled was the same, it must also mean
that they disagree over the time taken for the light beam to travel.

j) Discuss the concept that length standards are defined in terms of time in contrast to the original
metre standard

Measurement is the process of comparing quantities such as length, mass or time to a selected
standard and expressing the measured quantity as some factor of that standard.
The standard length is the metre.

 Originally the length standard was defined as one ten millionth ( ) of the distance
between the equator and the north-pole, running along the meridian passing through Paris.
o This distance was marked on a platinum-iridium rod. All distances were compared to
this standard.
 The length standard was redefined as one wavelength of light emitted from the element
Krypton-86. The reason being that a more precise and more accurate value was required.
 In the quest for attaining an even more accurate length standard, it redefined once again to
the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during the time interval of a

This follows that the length standard is now defined in terms of time and the speed of light.

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Module 1 – Space
k) Analyse and interpret some of Einstein’s thought experiments involving mirrors and trains and the
discuss the relationship between thought and reality

Mirror thought experiment:

Einstein imagined himself, sitting in a train travelling at the speed of light, with a mirror in front of
him and wondered whether he would be able to see his face normally in the mirror.
There were two possibilities:

1. He would see his reflection

2. He would not see his reflection

Scenario 1:
He would be able to see himself because he was inside the same inertial frame as the light beam;
hence he has no relative velocity to the light beam. This follows the principle of relativity as he
has not been able to determine whether he was moving or stationary.

But if an outside observer were to witness the event, that person would see the light beam travel
at speed → , since the light beam takes a finite time to reach the mirror, but in that same time
the train has moved forward, hence the light beam has to travel a great distance. This violates the
principle of relativity.

Since both observers agree that the speed of light is constant, Einstein suggested that for the
observer outside the frame to see the beam travel at speed c, the time he measures for the event
to occur would be greater than the time measure by the observer inside the train.

Scenario 2:
He would not be able to see his reflection, this would mean that light could not catch up to the
mirror, but this defies the principle of relativity as he has performed an experiment to deduce
that he is moving without taking reference to an outside frame. Hence this cannot be possible.

Relationship between thought and reality:

Einstein used thought experiments to develop the special theory. Thought experiments are not
real but are carried out in the mind.
Thought experiments are useful as they can perform things that are unrealistic, hence they enable
us to make meaningful conclusion. The problem is that what we expect to happen can be
determined by our own common sense, but it can also be misinterpreted, by our failure to apply
the correct logic, or by factors that are unknown to science yet, because it is not possible to
physically carry out.

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Module 1 – Space
l) Explain qualitatively and quantitatively the consequences of special relativity in relation to:

The Special Theory of Relativity resulted in many consequences, which required Einstein to re-look
at, to ensure that each phenomenon could be explained. For example with the postulate of light
travelling at constant speed, traditional physics had to be altered to define that space and time were
relative, consequently the length standard was also redefined in terms of time.

I. The relativity of simultaneity

Two events that are simultaneous to an observer in one frame may not be simultaneous to
another observer in another frame moving at relativistic speeds. This idea of simultaneity is
dependent on the frame from which events are observed as different observers will not agree on the
sequence of an event.

Thought Experiment 1:

Consider a train moving at a relativistic velocity, with a light that is equidistant from the rear and
front end of the train (i.e. the light source is in the middle).

Event: Light from

a light source
travels to the
front and rear
end of a train.

An observer A
inside the train
observes the light
from the source
reaching both
ends of the train
simultaneously, as the distance to both ends is equal and the speed of light is constant, hence the
light will take the same time to reach each.

 Observer A is in the same frame of reference as the light, hence A does not have a relative
velocity to the train, thus observes the sequence of events as simultaneous

An observer B standing on the platform (outside the frame of reference of the train), and witnesses
the event take place. The light beams take a finite time for it to travel to both ends and in this time
the train will have moved forward. Hence B will see the light beam reach the rear end first as it is
moving towards the beam and has to travel less distance, then he will see it hit the front end as the
light beam has to travel a larger distance.

 B cannot see the light hit the front end first, because this will suggest the light beam has
travelled faster than the speed of light to catch up to the front. This is not possible as it
violates the principle of relativity, that the speed of light is constant in all frames of reference.

Therefore the event does not happen simultaneously for both frames.

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Module 1 – Space
Thought Experiment 2:

Consider a train moving at a relativistic velocity, with two lights 1 and 2 situated at the tail and head
of the train respectively.

Event: Light from two lights sources travelling to the centre of a train.

As the event takes place an observer A is standing in the middle of the train (same frame of
reference as the train), equidistant from both lights and an observer B is standing on a platform,
outside of the frame of reference of the train.

Observer B witnesses the event take place simultaneously, that is both lights 1 and 2 are turned on
at the same time. Observer A will see the light at 2 turn on first as he is travelling towards the light;
hence the light from 2 has to travel less distance.

Once again the sequence of event does not occur simultaneously for both frames.

From both experiments, neither observer is correct or incorrect; they are only saying what they
perceive to be happening in their frame of reference. This is a direct consequence from the speed of
light being constant. To understand why this happens we must first understand the other
consequences of the principle of special relativity.

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Module 1 – Space
II. Time dilation

Time in a moving frame of reference appears to go slower relative to a stationary observer.

III. Length contraction

The length of a moving object appears to contract in the direction of motion of its frame relative
to a stationary observer.

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Module 1 – Space
IV. Mass dilation

The mass of a moving object is greater than when it was stationary.

V. The equivalence between mass and energy

At relativistic speeds, the energy that is used to accelerate the object, does not go into accelerating
the object anymore because the object cannot reach the speed of light, instead this energy turns
into mass and the object becomes heavier. This is mass dilation, which in turn makes it harder to
accelerate the object even further. So to accelerate to the speed of light an infinite amount of
energy is required, which would be impossible.

Just like the energy has been converted into mass, mass can be converted into energy. This follows
the law of conservation of mass-energy, which is also a direct consequence of special relativity.

The energy inside a resting mass can be given by the formula:

When an object tries to reach speed c, the mass that the object has gained contains the extra
energy. This total mass is given by the formula:

E  E k  mc 2 Where Ek is the kinetic energy of the mass.

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Module 1 – Space
m) Analyse information to discuss the relationshop between theory and the evidence supooirting it ,
using Einstein’s predictions based on relativity that were made many years ago before evidence
was available to support it

There is a distinct link between theory and evidence supporting it. No hypothesis can be
considered a theory until there is evidence confirming that the hypothesis is correct. Therefore,
Einstein’s conclusions were merely prediction of what would happen at relativistic speeds and
nothing more at the time he devised them, and his ideas only became theory later after evidence
confirmed his ideas. As technology improved in the twentieth century, relativity theory
predictions became testable.

Time Dilation/ Length Contraction:


The prediction that moving clocks run slower, was confirmed with one such experiment:

A type of particle called muons, which are produced in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. A
typical muon has a half-life of 2.2μs when measured at rest. Muons are capable of reach speeds
up to 0.99c which would mean that they would travel around 650m before decaying.

Studies have shown that these muons have been detected near the surface of the Earth, which
several kilometres apart from where muons are created. Clearly, their half-life would not allow
them to reach the surface of the Earth as they would have already decayed. This physical
phenomenon is explained by time dilation. A half-life of a muon travelling at speed 0.99c dilates
to about 16μs. Not only that, but as a result, relative to the muon the distance between itself and
the Earth contracted; hence it travels a shorter distance, thus is it able to reach the Earth.

Note: 2.2μs of moving-muon time is equivalent to 16μs of stationary earth observer's time.

Atomic Clocks:

2 pairs of extremely accurate atomic clocks were synchronised. One pair was flown around the world
on a jet several times and the other pair remained on the ground. When they were brought back
together and compared, the clock that had been on the plane lagged behind. Despite the difference
being very small, it was still measureable.

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Module 1 – Space
n) Discuss the implications of mass increase, time dilation and length contraction for space travel

Mass dilation:

From the time dilation formula, it tells us that as the spaceship’s velocity approaches speed c, its
mass will increase, and then with the energy-mass equivalence formula, it tell us that energy is
able to be converted into mass at relativistic speeds. A problem with this is that it limits the
maximum speed that a spaceship can travel for its journey, the reason being is the as we go faster
the energy produced from the thrust, does not actually go into increasing our speed, but is rather
converted into mass, making the spaceship heavier and heavier, this would mean that we would
require an infinite amount of fuel, which is impossible.

Time dilation/Length Contraction:

Time dilation and length contraction are two consequences from special relativity, in the sense that
it reduces the time and distance travelled in respect to the crew of the spaceship.
‘Moving clocks run slower’ this is a positive outcome, because as the spaceship approaches
relativistic speeds the time the spaceship’s crew perceives runs slower than on Earth, hence they are
able to make longer journeys in their lifetime.
Length contraction is also another positive outcome, because the spaceship’s crew perceive the
distance that they travelled is much less to what a person on Earth would measure.

Since their cannot be time dilation without length contraction or vice versa, it means that for a space
journey in which the spaceship is travelling at relativistic speeds, the distance and the time they
travelled is much less, hence they are able to make longer journeys in a shorter time, but the trade-
off comes with mass dilation. They would require a very large amount of fuel, almost infinity to allow
the spaceship to travel at relativistic speeds.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Motors use the effect of forces on current-carrying conductors in magnetic
a. Identify that the motor effect is due to the force acting on a current carrying conductor in a
magnetic field
 The force experienced when a current carrying conductor moves through a magnetic field.
 This force is produced because of the interaction between the magnet’s magnetic field and
the current’s electromagnetic field.
o The magnitude of the force is maximum when the moving charge is perpendicular to
the direction of the magnetic field.
 The right hand palm rule is used to determine:

b. Discuss the effect on the magnitude of the force on a current-carrying conductor of variations

The force acting on a current-carrying conductor is given by the formula:

F = Force (N)
B = Magnetic field strength (T)
F = BIlsinθ I = Current (A)
L = Length of the conductor (m)
θ = Angle of the conductor to the magnetic field

i. The strength of the magnetic field

o Force is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field
o Stronger magnetic field, greater force on conductor

ii. The magnitude of the current

o Increasing current means increasing the velocity of the electrons
o Each moving charged particle experiences a force in proportion to its velocity

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
iii. The length of the conductor
o The longer the section of conductor in a magnetic field, the more moving electrons
simultaneously experience a force
o Force is proportional to the length within the magnetic field
o Shorter length, smaller force on conductor

iv. The angle between the direction of the magnetic field and the direction of the current

o Force is strongest when particle is moving at right angles to the magnetic field (90°)
o Force is zero when particle is moving parallel to the magnetic field (0°)
o Movement of electrons is along a length of conductor, magnitude of force varies
with angle between conductor and magnetic field
o As angle increases, force increases

c. Describe qualitatively and quantitatively the force between long parallel current-carrying

 Force between parallel conductors exists because magnetic fields due to current flowing
through the conductors interact with each other.
 The right hand grip rule is used to
determine the direction of a magnetic
field around a current carrying
conductor, the rule is as follows:
When the thumb points in the
direction of the conventional current,
the fingers curl in the direction of the
magnetic field.

 The force between the parallel

conductors is dependent on the
direction of the current.
o If current flow in the same
direction, the wires will then attract
o If current flow is in opposite directions, the wire will then repel.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
The formula for the force between current carrying conductors is:

 Force increases when:

o When the product of the currents increase
o The distance between the conductors decreases (linear relationship)
o The length of the conductors increases.

e. Define torque as the turning moment of a force

 Torque is defined as the product of force and the perpendicular distance from the axis to the
line of action of the force.
o It is the turning effect of a force (also known as ‘moments’)

τ = Torque (Nm)
F = Applied force perpendicular to axis of rotation (N)
d = Perpendicular distance between ‘line of action’ and pivot (m)

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
f. Describe the forces experienced by a current carrying loop in a magnetic field and describe the
net result of the forces

 A current carrying loop will experience force due to the motor effect.
 Perpendicular sides of the loop have current moving in opposite directions, so they
experience opposite forces.
o Sides AB and CD will experience as force as they are carrying current at right angles
to the external magnetic field.
o Sides BC and AD will not experience a force as they are carrying the current parallel
to the magnetic field.
o The direction of the force on sides AB and CD are given by the right hand palm rule.
 The net result of these forces is that the coil experiences a torque on each side of the loop
causing it to rotate in a clockwise direction (as per diagram).
o Maximum torque is achieved when the plane of the coil is parallel to the magnetic
o NOTE: The net force acting on the coil is zero.

The formula for the total torque on the coil is:

τ = Torque (Nm)
n = number of turns/loops of the coil
B = Magnetic field strength (T)
I = Current flowing through the loop (A)
A = Area of the loop (m )
θ = Angle between the plane of the loop and the field

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
g. Identify data sources, gather and process information to qualitatively describe the application
of the motor effect in:

 The motor effect is where moving charge in a magnetic field experiences force, which leads
to current carrying conductors in a magnetic field to experience a force.

i. The galvanometer:
 A galvanometer is a measuring device that measure small
amounts of DC currents
o It measures in microamperes.
 It consists of a coil of wire wrapped around an iron core onto
which a needle is attached. The iron armature is also attached to
a small restoring spring, which it rotates against the spring.
o The iron core is used to direct and intensify the magnetic
o The restoring spring is used to make the instrument very
sensitive to allow it to make precise readings.
 This setup is place inside a radial magnetic field as this ensures
that when the coil rotates, the plane of coil is always parallel to
the magnetic field, delivering maximum torque at any one time, but more importantly the
torque delivered is constant.
 When current passes through the solenoid, a force results from the motor effect, thus
torque is also produced, causing the coil and needle to rotate. As the coil rotates, it begins to
compress the spring up until the point when the torque experience by the coil is countered
by the spring (restoring torque).
 The amount of rotation shown by the pointer can be calibrated and read in terms of amps or
voltage, appropriate to the chosen scale.

ii. The loudspeaker:

 A loudspeaker is a device that converts electrical energy into sound (energy).
 In a loudspeaker, a solenoid is immersed in a static magnetic field. The solenoid is free to
move as it is alternatively attracted and repelled by the permanent magnet.
 This movement occurs when current is passed through the solenoid, causing the solenoid to
experience a force (motor effect). This force moves the solenoid in such way that it
corresponds to the current being fed into it.
 Because the solenoid is connected to a large cone, the solenoid causes the cone to vibrate as
it moves. These vibrations result in the formation of compression waves in the air, which are
heard as sound.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
h. Describe the main features of a DC electric motor and the role of each feature

Part Description Role of part

Armature  The armature consists of a  The armature carries the rotor
soft iron core. coils. The iron core greatly
 It is free to rotate and is concentrates the external
connected to whatever magnetic field, increasing the
the motor is driving. torque.
Stator  Can be made from  The stator is what supplies the
permanent magnets or magnetic field in a DC motor.
 Is always stationary.
Rotor coils  These are several turns of  Provide torque, as the current
insulated wire, wound passing through the coils
onto the armature. interacts with the magnetic
 The ends of the coils are field.
connected to bars on the
Split ring  It consists of a copper  The commutator provides
commentator cylinder divided into two points of contact between the
electrically separated rotor coils and the external
halves. electric circuit.
 Each half is connected to  A split ring commutator helps
one side of the armature. a DC motor to spin in a
 This is what makes contact constant direction by reversing
with the carbon brushes the direction of the current at
connecting to the external vertical positions every half
circuit. cycle by changing the contact
of each half of the split ring
commutator with the carbon
Brushes  The carbon (graphite)  The graphite is a lubricant,
brushes are the hence it reduces the friction
connection between the between the brushes and the
external circuit and the commutator, thus allowing the
armature. motor to run more efficiently,
 They are mounted on whilst minimising wear and
opposite sides of the tear.
commutator and spring-
loaded to make close
contact with the
commutator bars.
Axle  A cylindrical bar of  Provides a centre of rotation
hardened steel passing for the moving parts of the
through the centre of the motor.
armature and the  Useful work can be extracted
commutator. from the motor via a pulley or
cog mounted on the axle.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
i. Identify that the required magnetic fields in DC motors can be produced either by current carrying
coils or permanent magnets
 The stator (field structure) is what provides the magnetic fields in a DC motor.
 A stator can be made from either:
o A pair of permanent magnets
o An electromagnet
 An electromagnet works behind the principle that moving charges produces a magnetic
field, thus they are able to produce magnetic fields similar to bar magnets
o Usually the wire is wrapped around an iron core to intensify the magnetic field.
 An electromagnet is more commonly used in a motor:
o It is much light than a permanent magnet (which gets heavier as the strength of the
magnet increase)
o The strength of the magnetic field can be changed, by varying the input current.
j. Perform an investigation to demonstrate the motor effect
 The apparatus shown below is set up, where a wire is placed on an electronic balance.
 The wire is connected to a variable power source.
o Permanent magnets are placed on either side of the wire as shown.
 When no current is passed though the wire the electronic balance is zeroed.
 Now a current is passed though the coil, depending on the direction of the current the
electronic balance will measure a positive or negative value.
 However the value has changed meaning the wire is experiencing a force.
 This shows the motor effect.

 A force acts on a current carrying wire in a magnetic field

 The direction of the force depends on the direction of the current and the direction of the
magnetic field
 The force is perpendicular to both the field and the current.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
The relative motion between a conductor and magnetic field is used to
generate an electric voltage
a. Outline Michael Faraday’s discovery of the generation of an electric current by moving a magnet
 Following Oerstead’s discovery of electric currents inducing magnetic fields, scientists tried
to prove the reverse, that an electric current could be produced from a magnetic field, which
is known as:
o Electromagnetic Induction: The interaction between magnetic fields and conductors
to generate electricity.
 The discovery of electromagnetic induction was due to Michael Faraday, where others failed
to discover the effect; Faraday discovered it by noticing that a changing magnetic field was
required to induce currents.
 Faraday had conducted several experiments to show that electromagnetic induction was
 Early experiments on electromagnetic induction:
o Faraday wound a copper wire around a piece of wood and connected to a DC power
source (primary coil)
o Another copper wire was wound between the primary coil and was connected to a
galvanometer (secondary coil)
o When power was switched
on, the meter registered a
very small reading of
electricity and then dropped
to 0
o When current was switched
off, for a moment there was
a reading of electricity in the
opposite direction (on
galvanometer) which then
also dropped to 0.
o Faraday then conducted a
similar experiment on an
iron ring, with the primary
and secondary coils on either side of the ring. The experiment showed similar
results, however the current was much larger.
o This was termed as mutual induction, where the current in one circuit will induce a
current in another
circuit nearby.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Electromagnetic induction experiments involving magnets:
 A bar magnet was moved inside a solenoid,
which was attached to a galvanometer and
saw the needle shift
 When the bar magnet was pulled out of a
solenoid, a similar pattern was seen but
the needle shifted to the other side.
 This experiment showed that continuous
relative motion of the magnet with respect
to the wire induced electric current.

Faradays Law of Electromagnetic Induction:

 When a conductor is placed in a changing
magnetic field or it is moved in a constant magnetic field, such that the conductor cuts the
‘field of lines’ there is an electromotive force (EMF) induced in the conductor.
 The greater the rate of change of magnetic field, the greater the EMF induced
 By moving a magnet more quickly between a coil will induce a larger EMF.

b. Define magnetic field strength B as magnetic flux density

 Magnetic fields can be represented by magnetic lines of force

 Magnetic flux density is a measure of the number of magnetic lines of force passing through
a square metre (per unit area)
o Magnetic field strength at a point is defined to be the same as magnetic flux
B = magnetic field strength [Tesla (T)]
Φ = the total magnetic flux [Webers (Wb)]
A = perpendicular area through which the flux passes (m )

c. Describe the concept of magnetic flux in terms of magnetic flux density and surface area

 Magnetic flux is the number of magnetic lines of force passing through an imaginary area, in
a magnetic field.
 From the definition of magnetic flux density:

B = Magnetic field strength [Tesla (T)]

Φ = the total magnetic flux [Webers (Wb)]
A = Perpendicular area through which the flux passes (m )
Θ = the angle between the magnetic field lines and the normal to the area

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
d. Describe generated potential difference as the rate of change of magnetic flux through a circuit

 The size of an induced EMF is dependent upon:

o The magnitude of the change in magnetic flux
o The velocity of the relative motion between the flux lines and the conductors
o Number of conductors
o The change in area through which the magnetic flux passes.
 Faraday’s law states:
o The size of an induced EMF is directly proportional to the rate of change of magnetic
flux through the circuit.
ɛ = Potential difference - EMF (V)
n = Number of turns in the coil
Φ = Magnetic flux (Wb)
t = Time (seconds)

ΔΦ = Rate of change in magnetic flux


e. Account for Lenz’s law in terms of conservation of energy

 Lenz’s Law states:

o The direction of an induced EMF will produce such a current that creates a magnetic
field that opposes the change that produced it
o The negative sign in Faraday’s law gives the direction of the induced EMF, which is, it
opposes the cause of induction.
 Lenz’s law comes from the law of conservation of energy.
 Say if a magnet is moved into a coil and the induced current flowed in such a direction that
the magnetic field the coil creates attracts the magnet further into the coil:
o As the magnet is attracted, it
would be sucked into the coil. This
further movement would result in
greater change in magnetic flux,
which would induce a greater
emf. Effectively generating
o However, this violates the law of
conservation of energy, as there is
no energy input, yet there is
energy output. This is the creation
of energy, thus violating the law.
o If the magnetic field repelled the
moving magnet, then work must
be done to continue pushing the
magnet further. This work done is
the energy input, which results in the energy output.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
o As energy in not being created, but merely being transformed, this follows the law
of conservation of energy, thus proving that the magnetic field from the induced
current opposes the change that caused it.

f. Relate Lenz’s to the production of back EMF in motors and explain that in electric motors, back
EMF opposes the supply EMF
 When the coil of a DC motor is spinning inside the magnetic field, at the same time, the coil
is experiencing a changing magnetic flux due by the relative motion between the coil and the
field and according to Faraday’s law this changing magnetic flux will induce an EMF in the
 As a result of Lenz’s law, the induced EMF will cause the current to flow in such a way that it
will oppose the cause of induction—the rotation of the coil. Thus the induced EMF is called
Back EMF.
 The back EMF causes the armature of the motor to experience a torque in the opposite
direction, to the direction of the torque caused by the supply EMF.
o Since the back EMF is creating a force in the opposite direction to force from the
supply EMF, then back EMF must be opposing supply EMF, in the way that the
current of the back EMF is flowing in the opposite direction to the current of the
supply EMF.
 As the motor is supplied with an EMF, the current causes the rotor to move, as the EMF
increases so does the rotation of the rotor.
o At the same time, back EMF is being produced, which also increases with an
increases of supply EMF. It results that the net EMF = Supply EMF – Back EMF
o The motor will eventually reach a constant speed, this is where Supply EMF = Back
o The effect of this is that it reduces the current flowing through the coil, reducing the
chances of overheating.
 Starting Resistance:
o When the motor is initially switched on, the back EMF will be so small, thus the
current from the supply EMF will be large, which can cause the coil to overheat,
burning the motor out.
o To prevent this, a device called a starting resistance is placed in series with the coil.
By increasing the resistance it is able to reduce the forward current, thus slowing
down the motor and preventing a burn out.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
g. Explain the production of eddy currents in term of Lenz’s Law
 As we know that a conductor placed inside a region of changing magnetic flux, an EMF is
 In the case of a solid conductor (sheet of metal), circular eddy currents are induced.
o Induced eddy currents also follow Lenz’s law; they circulate in such a way to oppose
the cause of induction.

h. Gather, analyse and present information to explain how induction is used in cooktops in electric
 Induction cooktops use the principle of electromagnetic induction to cook food.
 The cooktop itself is made from a ceramic
material, where underneath it is placed a
 When an AC current is passed through the
coil, a magnetic field is created that aims
towards the cooking surface. However since
AC current is supplied, the magnetic field is
constantly changing.
 When a saucepan is placed on the cooktop,
it is subject to changing magnetic flux, thus
an EMF is induced on the base of the pan.
But since the pan is a solid conductor, eddy
currents form.
 Since the pan has a high resistance to the
eddy currents, thus heat is produced from
the electrical resistance

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
 Advantages:
o An induction cooktop is very efficient in converting electrical energy to heat energy
when compared to a standard conduction cooktop.
o The saucepan becomes very hot quickly, because it is heated directly, rather than
the cooktop being heated up then, heating the saucepan.
o The cooktop itself does not heat up, nor is there any open flame so it reduces the
chance of a hazardous situation in the kitchen.

i. Gather secondary information to identify how eddy currents have been utilised in electromagnetic
 Electromagnetic braking is primarily used in trains, where it can efficiently and silently slow a
train down, without the noise, wear and tear of conventional friction braking.
 Large magnets are lowered to near the metal wheels, and as the train is moving, the wheels
are experiencing a constant change in magnetic flux.
o According to Faraday’s law this change in flux will induce currents in the wheel, but
as the wheel is a solid conductor eddy currents will form.
o Now according to Lenz’s law these eddy currents will flow in such a direction that
their magnetic field will oppose the change that induced the currents. This means
that the eddy current’s
magnetic field will repel
the external magnets,
exerting a force in the
opposite direction.
o This ‘braking’ force, is
now acting against the
motion of the train,
causing it to become
 As the train becomes slower and
slower, the braking effect reduces too. This is due to the fact that the size of the eddy
currents, hence the size of the braking force is directly proportional to the rate of change of
magnetic flux (Faraday’s Law).
o So when the train reaches very small speeds, the effect of the electromagnetic
braking becomes no longer useful, where at this point in time a mechanical brake is
required to stop the train.

 Advantages:
o This type of braking is very smooth and efficient – The braking force is large when
the train is at speed, but gradually decreases as the train slows down
o As there is no physical contact between the braking system and the wheel, there is
no wear and tear, thus reducing maintenance costs.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
j. Perform an investigation to model the generation of an electric current by moving a magnet in a
coil or a coil in the magnet
k. Plan, choose equipment or resources for, and perform a first-hand investigation to predict and
verify the effect on a generated electric current when:
 A permanent magnet was moved in and out of a coil of insulated wire. The wire was
connected to a galvanometer which measured current.
 The results of different situations are detailed below:
o As the magnet moves into the solenoid the needle on the galvanometer deflects,
indicating that a small current is
o If the magnet is stationary inside the
solenoid, the galvanometer registered
zero current.
o As the magnet is removed, the
galvanometer needle deflects in the
opposite direction to its deflection
when the magnet was inserted.
o Current is also produced when the
magnet is stationary and the solenoid
moves, i.e. it is relative motion
between the magnet and the coil that
is important.
 Some factors that affected the strength of the induced current are:
o Strength of the magnet. The stronger the magnet, the greater the induced current.
o Speed the magnet is moving. The faster the magnet moves, the greater the induced
 The direction of the induced current can be determined by using the right hand grip rule.
o The direction of this magnetic field will be in the direction the right hand thumb is
pointing when the curled fingers are pointing in the direction of the current.
o We also know that in a magnet the magnetic field goes out of the north end and into
the south end.
o We now use the principle that the coil will induce a current to create a magnetic
field that opposes the motion of the coil to work out which way the induced current
will be.

I. The distance between the coil and magnet is varied

 As the distance is increased the strength of the magnetic field decreases, thus less current is
o This was tested by numerous repeated experiments where the distance between
the magnet and the coil is 3cm further away each time.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
II. The strength of the magnet is varied
 As the strength of the magnet increased, the induced current was greater ( and thus the
induced magnetic field was also greater)
o This was tested with varying strength magnets so the flux was different each time.
III. The relative motion between the coil and the magnet is varied
 The faster the relative motion between the coil and magnet, the greater the induced

This was tested by moving the magnet slowly in and out of the coil, then repeating it again, but this
time moving it in and out of the coil much faster.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Generators are used to provide large scale power production
a. Describe the main components of a generator
 A generator is a device that that transforms mechanical kinetic energy into electrical energy
using the principle of electromagnetic induction.
 The mechanical device that drives a generator is called a prime mover.
o Mostly a steam or water driven turbine drives the generator.
Part Description Role
Coils (Rotor) - Several coils of insulated wire wound - Carries the direct current that
onto the armature. interacts with the magnetic
- The ends of the coils are connected to field and thus provides torque.
bars on the commutator.
Armature - Made of ferromagnetic material and is - Carries the rotor coils.
(Rotor) the frame around which the coil of wire
is wound forming a solenoid.
- It is mounted on an axle and is free to
Magnets - Can be permanent magnets or - Provides the external
(Stator) electromagnets. magnetic field which interacts
- Permanent magnets can be curved to with the current to produce
maximise the amount of time the sides the motor effect.
of the coil are travelling perpendicular
to the magnetic field to maintain
maximum and uniform torque. They
form a radial magnetic field.
Handle - Connected to the axle. - Allows the axle to be turned.
Split-ring - Consists of two metal half rings. - It serves to reverse the
commutator - Each opposite part is connected to direction of current flow in
(DC Generators) either end of the coil. each coil every half revolution.
- This ensures that there is
unidirectional torque in a DC
Slip-ring - Consists of two circular metal contacts. - They maintain constant
commutator - Each slip-ring is connected to one end of contact with the brushes
(AC Generators) the coil. which provides an alternating
current that changes every
half rotation.
Brushes - Often made from graphite as it is a - Provides a point of connection
conductor and a natural lubricant. between the external circuit
- Are connected on either side of the and the commutator.
commutator and to a DC power source. - Stops the connecting wires
from becoming tangled.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
b. Compare the structure and function of a generator to an electric motor
 Similarities:
o Both have a stator proving the magnetic field, this can be provided by an
electromagnet or permanent magnets.
o Both consist of a rotor, which is made from an iron core armature and several loops
of coil wound on the armature at angles to each other.
o Both use a commutator to reverse the direction of the current each half cycle. AC
uses slip rings and DC uses a split ring.
 Differences:
o The real difference lies in the function. The function of an electric motor is to convert
electrical energy into mechanical rotational energy, while for a generator it is to
convert mechanical rotational energy into electrical energy.
o A motor is connected to some that it will rotate, for example a drill or wheel
o A generator is connected to something that will drive it, for example a turbine.

c. Describe the differences between AC and DC generators and Gather secondary information to
discuss advantages/disadvantages of AC and DC generators and relate these to their use

AC generator DC generator
Description  Brushes run on slip rings,  Brushes run on split-ring
constant connection commutator, which work by
between coil and external reversing the connection between
circuit. the coil and the external circuit
 Induced EMF changes each half-turn
polarity with every half-turn  Induced emf does not change
of the coil polarity
 Voltage in the external  Voltage in external circuit
circuit varies like a sine wave fluctuates between zero and
 Current alternates direction maximum
 Current flows in one constant
Advantages  Brushes in AC generator last  DC output can be used for devices
longer, increasing efficiency. which rely solely on DC current to
 Less maintenance and more function
reliable,  DC current is generally more
 Uses slip rings which cost powerful than AC (for a given
less to manufacture and voltage)
requires less maintenance  Its output can be made smoother
 AC voltage can be easily by arranging many coils in a
increased/decreased using regular pattern around the
transformers armature. This means that the
 Can be used for power more coils, the more smoother it
distribution. is.
 They can be easily designed
to produce 3 phase
electricity, meaning it can be
generated over a wide area.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Disadvantages  Cannot be used to power  Brushes in DC generator do not
some devices which rely last as long because they wear
solely on DC current to quicker
function  Chance of creating electrical short
 AC output in different circuit between segments due to
regions around the country pieces of metal worn from
must be synchronised for commutator bars
correct integration of  Cannot supply power over long
electricity – i.e. have the distance.
same frequency and are in-  The larger the current, the heavier
phase the rotor coils causing high
 AC output is much more demands on structures.
dangerous than the
equivalent DC output

Voltage output


 When the plane of the coil is parallel to the magnetic field, the wires cutting the magnetic
field are perpendicular, thus it is a maximum.
 It follows that at this position the change in magnetic flux is the greatest, thus the EMF
induced in also maximum.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
d. Analyse secondary information on the competition between Westinghouse and Edison to supply
electricity to cities.
Thomas Edison:
 Thomas Edison was the man responsible for the light bulb, the gramophone and many other
o When Thomas died he had thousands of patents on his name.
 In 1882 his company; Edison Electric Light Company began installing lighting systems to
many homes based on a DC system.

Nikolas Tesla:

 Nikolas Tesla was the first person to demonstrate the production of AC and its transmission
system in 1883.
 Tesla also invented AC motors which made AC more efficient to use.

George Westinghouse:

 Westinghouse was a businessman who bought the patent of the AC system from Tesla and
opened up the Westinghouse Company in 1885 to compete with Edison.
 Westinghouse’s system was based upon an AC system.

Who won?

 Westinghouse was the overall winner in the competition against Edison, mainly because of
the fact that AC was more efficient and practical than DC.
 The main problem with DC was its poor inefficiency, with the high speed rotation it wore out
relatively quickly and it could not be transported over long distances, but also losing 38% of
energy to heat.
o This follows that to transport DC, generators would have had place every 5-10km to
keep a steady flow of electricity into homes. This would have resulted in
infrastructure difficulties, but also higher levels of pollution.
 Despite AC, using very high voltage, which was deemed unsafe by Edison, AC was preferred
because of its efficiency and its ability to be transported very long distances with minimal
energy loss to heat. This was because of AC’s ability to be transmitted through transformers,
which was much, more energy efficient.

Major Competition:

 The real write off of DC powered systems in 1886 a competition was held for inventors to
propose plans to build a power plant using the power of Niagara River to supply electricity in
surrounding regions and cities.
 Westinghouse proved the higher efficiency of the AC system through many demonstrations,
which led to him winning the competition.
 Westinghouse built the AC at Niagara Falls a few years later confirming the superiority of AC
over DC.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
e. Discuss the energy losses that occur as energy is fed through transmission lines from the generator
to the consumer

Transmission of electricity is not 100% efficient, as energy is lost during the transmission
from the power plant to the consumer.
 Energy is lost in the production of electricity; some of the mechanical energy used to drive
the generator is converted into heat:
o Friction in the bearings of the rotor
o Heat build in the conductors
o Energy loss in the iron core – magnetic flux leaking (due to a magnetic property
called hysteresis)
 Even good electrical conductors, like copper used in the transmission lines can generate
substantial amounts of resistance, when running long lengths (as resistance is proportional
to the length of the conductor).
 To minimise the heat loss in the wires, the current flowing through needs to be kept low;
this can be done by using very high voltages.
o Use thicker cables for transmission lines, as resistance is inversely proportional to
the area, so by increasing the area, the resistance is effectively reduced.
f. Gather and analyse information to identify how transmission lines are:
i. Insulated from supporting structures
 In dry air, sparks can jump around 33cm from a 330kV source.
 This means that wires need to be kept at that distance apart whilst it is held between
support poles.
 This is achieved by using disk-shaped ceramic insulators.
 The disks are stacked on top of each other and designed in such a way that it does not allow
any dust or moisture to settle on the
surface, both of which can provide a
conducting pathway between wires.
 Also, the disk shape means that current has
a longer distance to traverse (since the
current must go around the disks, instead
of in a straight line), increasing safety.

ii. Protected from lightning strikes

 In terms of lightning, on power lines there is another single line strung at the very top of
power poles, above the conducting wires. This wire is known as a shield conductor.
 In the event of a lightning strike, lightning hits points as high as possible, and so the shield
conductor at the top will be hit instead of the lower conducting lines.
o The shield conductor is periodically earthed by having a connection to a wire that
runs from the top of a power pole right down to the ground, so that lightning can
travel from the sky to the ground via shield conductors rather than power lines.
 For high-voltage towers, the tower itself is taller than the height of the wires, so lighting will
strike the top of the tower then travel down to the ground via the metal structure, thereby
not interfering with the power lines.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
g. Plan, choose equipment or resources for, and perform a first-hand investigation to
demonstrate the production of an alternating current
 An electric current can be generated from relative motion between a magnet and a coil of
wire. In alternating current, the direction of the current is continually reversed.
 An AC generator demonstration was used to demonstrate the production of an alternating
current; this was the connected to a galvanometer and then afterwards a cathode ray
o The AC generator had a coil of wire that can be continuously rotated inside a pair of
o As the coil is rotated slowly, the needle on the galvanometer moves back and forth,
showing that an AC current is produced.

After the AC generator was connected to a cathode ray oscilloscope to trace a signal that
demonstrated that AC current was being produced, but also that as the coil’s rotation increased, so
did the size of the AC current

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
h. Assess the effects of the development of AC generators on society and the environment.

 AC generation and its ability to have its voltage changed by transformers has revolutionised
society and had an environmental impact.

Society Environment
Advantages - More efficient as AC generators are - Has reduced smog and pollution
compatible with transformers. levels in urbanised environments.
- This in turn reduces the cost of - Less power stations and land
production making it more clearing is required.
affordable for society. - Due to the increased efficiency,
- Its compatibility with transformers there is a reduction in the amount
allows electricity to be transmitted of fossil fuels needed to be burnt.
over longer distances and hence
allowed electricity to become more
- Generators can also be placed
further away from the population
and are hence more aesthetically
pleasing for society.
- More appliances have also been
developed that have increased the
quality of life due to the increased
accessibility and affordability of
- Factories are now able to mechanise
their industrial processes and thus
lead to economic growth.
Disadvantages - Has made society largely dependent - Transmission lines cut through the
on electricity. Therefore in case of country, stripping through
power failures, the implications are environmentally sensitive areas.
much more severe. - Despite having a reduction in the
- Has contributed to sedentary amount of fossil fuels needing to
lifestyle problems like obesity. be burnt, AC generators are still a
- Increased chance of electrocution large source of pollution
due to the larger widespread use (AC contributing to global warming
causes defibrillation of the heart and acid rain.
making it more dangerous). - Nuclear waste is extremely
expensive to dispose of from
nuclear power plants.

 Overall, AC generators dramatically changed society because they made the labour-saving
benefits of electricity available to the majority of the population.
 While AC generators have resulted in a cleaner urban environment, they are still a large
source of pollution and have a significant impact on global warming.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Transformers allow generated voltage to be either increased or decreased
before it is used
a. Describe the purpose of transformers in electrical circuits

 Transformers are devices for transferring electrical energy from one circuit to another while
change the voltage of an AC current.
o They operate on the principle of electromagnetic induction.
 Step-down transformers are used for appliances containing components requiring lower
voltages – e.g. clock radios, hair dryers, CD players, etc.
 Step-up transformers are used for appliances which require higher voltages to function –
e.g. televisions, air conditioners, etc.
 Many appliances contain both step-up and step-down transformers supplying different
voltages for different components.
 Transformers consist of two coils of wire, the primary and the secondary, wrapped around a
soft-iron core. Each coil differs in the number of turns; with the secondary coil having either
more/less turns than the primary depending on whether voltage needs to be stepped
 The use of AC voltages in the primary coil creates a
changing magnetic flux in the iron core.
o This change in flux links to the secondary
coil which induces a voltage in the coil
(Faraday’s law of electromagnetic
induction), then induces a current.

b. Compare step-up and step-down transformers

Step-up transformer Step-down transformer

 Consists of two inductively coupled  Consists of two inductively coupled coils

coils wound on a laminated iron core wound on a laminated iron core

 More turns in the secondary coil than  Fewer turns in the secondary coil than the
the primary coil primary coil

 Higher output voltage than input  Lower output voltage than input voltage

 Lower output current than input  Higher output current than input current

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
 Used at power stations to increase  Used at substations and in towns to reduce
voltage and reduce current for long- transmission line voltage for domestic and
distance transmission industrial use

 Used in cathode ray television sets to  Used in computers, radios, and CD players to
increase voltage to operate the picture reduce household electricity to very low
tube voltages for electronic components

c. Identify the relationship between the ratio of the number of turns in the primary and secondary
coils and the ratio or primary to secondary voltage
 For an ideal transformer there are no energy losses:
o Ratio of primary to secondary voltage = ratio of number of turns in the coils
 Step-up transformers - more turns and higher voltage in secondary coil
 Step-down transformers - less turns and lower voltage in secondary coil

where Vp = voltage input into primary coil (V)

Vs = voltage output from secondary coil (V)
np = number of turns of the primary coil
ns = number of turns of the secondary coil

d. Explain why voltage transformations are related to conservation of energy

 For an ideal transformer, no energy is lost while transforming the voltage.
 According to the law of conservation of energy, energy cannot be created nor destroyed,
only transformed.
o It follows that’s that if energy is conserved then so too is power.
o This means that not only the voltage is transformed but so too is the current.
o When voltage is stepped up, current is reduced and vice versa.

Power in primary = power in secondary

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
e. Gather, analyse and use available evidence to discuss how difficulties of heating caused by eddy
currents in transformers may be overcome.

 The principle that a transformer is based on, is the induction of current in the secondary coil,
because it experiences a changing magnetic flux.
 However, the iron core, being a solid conductor, also experiences this changing flux, which
then induces eddy currents in the core heating it up.

Technique/ part How it helps

Laminated iron  Stacks of thin iron sheets, each coated with insulation materials.
core  Lamination effectively increases the resistance of the core to the flow
of eddy currents, therefore restricting the circulation of large eddy
currents – thus, less heat dissipation
Painting the casing  to absorb the heat produce by the transformer more quickly in order
a dark colour to dissipate it to the surroundings
Internal fan  to assist air circulation to remove excess heat faster

filling the  which circulates inside the case; transports heat produced in core to
transformer with a outside where heat can be dissipated to environment
non-conducting oil
Heat-sink fins  added to metal transformer case, heat dissipation can occur more
quickly over larger surface area
located in well-  E.g. up in the air
ventilated areas  to maximise air flow around them for cooling

f. Gather and analyse secondary information to discuss the need for transformers in the transfer of
electrical energy from a power station to its point of use

 Power losses in the transmission of electricity are largely caused by heating in transmission
o The energy consumed is equal to P = I2R (since the energy lost is the same as the
power “used” by the wire), so it can be seen that power loss is dependent on the
current flowing through the wire, as well as the wire’s resistance. ‘
 This heating is a huge problem, because it results in less energy reaching the point of use.
 However, transformers can be used to raise the voltage of electricity, and thereby reduce
o This dramatically reduces the power consumed by transmission wires, and thereby
reduces wasted energy.
 Using transformers in the transfer of electrical energy from a power station to its point of
use provides massive efficiency gains, reducing the fuel consumed by a power plant and
reducing the price of electricity.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
g. Explain the role of transformers in electricity sub-stations
 Transformers are used in substations to step-up and step-down electrical energy for long
distance transmission.
 At the generator, a step-up transformer at a substation raises the output voltage from 23kV
to 330kV.
o This minimises losses during long distance transmission by reducing the current
flowing through transmission wires.
 In substations located in urban areas, step-down transformers are used to reduce the
voltage for transmission within cities or suburbs, and continue to step the voltage down to
240V until it reaches the consumer.
 Transformers in electricity sub-stations are used to reduce 240V, which is safe and practical
for homes to operate on.

The voltage change during the transmission from the power plant to consumers:

Electricity is usually generated by a three-phase AC generator; generally the voltage generated is as big
as 23000V and current output from each set of the coil is almost 10000A

For long distance transmissions, the electricity is then fed into a step-up transformer that increases the
voltage to 330000V and correspondingly decreases the size of the current. This is done to increase
efficiency of transmission.

After this electricity has been transmitted over a long distance, the voltage is stepped down at different
regional sub-stations, mainly for safety reasons. Correspondingly, the current increases.

Eventually, the voltage is stepped-down to 240V at the local telegraph pole transformers for domestic
uses; industries may use slightly higher voltages

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
h. Discuss why some electrical appliances in the home that are connected to the mains domestic
supply use a transformer

 The mains supply provides a 240V AC supply, however many household electrical appliances
function at voltages other than the standard 240V.
o Some appliances require step –up transformers, for example:
 A TV requires tens of thousands of volts for its operation with the cathode
ray tube.
o Most appliances require a step-down transformer, for example:
 Cordless phones
 Modems
 Laptops
 Phone chargers.
 Most of these devices consist of a type of transformer called a rectifier that converts the
240V AC supply into low DC currents to give a voltage ranging between 2V -12V.

i. Discuss the impact of the development of transformer on society

 Transformers have had a significant impact upon society. The development of transformers
has led to the increased use of AC electricity which can be used with transformers to
produce different voltages, unlike DC electricity which is incompatible with transformers.

Advantages - Has significantly reduced power loss in transmission making

power more efficient.
- Electricity can now be transmitted over long distances and thus
has had a positive impact on remote areas (increased quality of
- Electricity is now more affordable for consumers.
- Lead to the widespread use of everyday applications which
increases the ease and convenience of tasks at home (washing).
- Fewer transmission lines are required making the electricity
network more aesthetically appealing for societies as well as
creating more space.
Disadvantages - There has been an increased dependence on electricity making
the implication of power failures much more severe.
- Has contributed to sedentary lifestyle problems like obesity.
- Increased chance of electrocution in populated areas due to the
larger widespread use.
- Automation of industry, reducing the demand for unskilled labour
and causing a loss of jobs.
- Increased demand for AC electricity has led to the increased
burning of fossil fuels cause degradation of air quality, respiratory
irritation and atmospheric pollution.

 So transformers have had a huge impact on society, from bringing electricity into the reach
of the broad public to indirectly causing environmental damage and social problems.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
j. Perform an investigation to model the structure of a transformer to demonstrate how secondary
voltage is produced
 In this experiment, we had a primary coil producing a changing magnetic field which was
used to induce a current in a secondary coil.
 The apparatus was set up as shown in the
 An AC power supply was connected to the
primary coil, and a galvanometer was
connected to the secondary coil.
 When we passed AC current through the
large coil, the galvanometer detected
current in the secondary coil, showing that
induction was taking place.
 The iron core intensified the induction:
o This is because the iron core directs
the magnetic field from the primary
coil into the secondary coil, thereby increasing efficiency.
 To change the voltage/current ratio the ratio of the number of loops in each coil is changed.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Motors are used in industries and the home usually to convert electrical
energy into more useful forms of energy
a. Describe the main features of an AC motor

There are three types of AC motors:

 Standard AC motors
 Universal motors
 AC induction motors

Standard AC motors:

 A standard AC motor is identical to an AC generator, consisting of two main parts:

o Stator and the rotor
 The stator is the stationary part of the motor; the stator provides the external magnetic field
structure for the motor.
 The rotor is the rotating part of the motor and consists of an iron core armature, to which
several coils are wound. The rotor rotates in the magnetic field provided by the stator.
 To connect the coils to the external circuit, slip rings are used:
o Slip rings are in contact with carbon-graphite brushes that conduct electricity from
the external circuit to the coils without interfering with the rotation of the coils (so
wires do not get tangled).
 When the current carrying
coil interacts with the field
structure, a force is created
(motor effect) thus the coil
experiences a torque,
causing it to rotate.
 An AC motor does not need
a commutator to reverse
the current every half-cycle,
because the current is
alternating 50 times per
second (AC frequency –
50Hz), so when the coil has
spun through 180 degrees,
the current reverses, causing the force created to remain in the direction of movement,
keeping the motor spin continuously.
 The AC motor has some limitations:
o The motor has a max rpm of 3000 (50 revolutions per second  50Hz AC supply),
but to reduce rpm, gear boxes may be used
o The torque varies with load – too big a load and the motor will stop
o The motor is not self-starting.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
The universal motor:

 Universal motors are designed to operate on DC and AC electricity.

o They are very similar to the DC motor.
 The rotor consists of several coils wound on the armature.
o The ends of these connect to the opposite ends of the commutator via carbon-
graphite brushes.
 The field structure is provided by the stator electromagnets that are connected in series with
the coils from the armatures.
 The interaction between the current
carrying coil and the field structure
produces a torque that makes the rotor
o With DC – the commutator
switches the current for the
motor to operate
o With AC – though the direction of
current is varying, it this current
that creates the electromagnet,
thus the AC oscillation is cancelled

AC Induction Motor:

 Induction motors are so named because a changing magnetic field that is set up in the stator
induces a current in the rotor.
o The simplest AC induction motor is called the squirrel cage motor; it is called so
because the rotor resembles a squirrel cage.
 It is an induction motor because no current passes through the rotor directly from the
mains; rather the current in the rotor is induced in the conductors that make up the cage of
the rotors by experiencing a change in magnetic flux.
o This means that there is very low friction as the rotor is not actually in contact with
the rest of the motor, and it also means there is very little wear and tear.

 Three-phase AC induction motors have a more complicated stator with three sets of coils
that have iron cores.
o The stator is connected to the frame of the motor and surrounds a cylindrical space
in which it sets up a rotating magnetic field.
 There are a total of 6 field coils, and each opposite pair is fed one phase of three-phase AC
 This sets up a rotating magnetic field inside the stator, as the magnetic field rotates at the
same frequency as the mains supply (50Hz).

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
Rotor - Squirrel Cage:
 The rotor of the AC induction motor consists of a number of conducting bars (made from
either aluminium or copper) attached to two ring, at either end of the bars to form a
cylindrical shape.
o This cylindrical shape forms what is often called a squirrel cage.
 This cylinder is encased in a laminated iron armature so that the magnetic field passing
through the rotor cage is intensified.
 As the field rotates, it induces current in the bars of the squirrel cage (according to Faraday’s
Law of electromagnetic induction).
o Then the bars carrying current in the rotating magnetic field experience a force
(motor effect).
 However, as this force is created from an induced current, the direction of the force is
determined by Lenz’s law.
o According to Lenz's law the rotor windings will try to oppose the cause of production
of induced current in the rotor.
o The cause of induced current in the rotor is the rotating stator magnetic field, so to
oppose this the rotor will start to rotate in the direction of the rotating stator
magnetic field to make the relative speed between rotor and rotating stator
magnetic field zero, thus the motor will start by ‘chasing’ the magnetic field.

b. Perform an investigation to demonstrate the principle of an AC induction motor

 An AC induction motor relies on the principle that a moving magnetic field induces a current
in the rotor with a direction that, according to Lenz’s law, causes the rotor to spin in the
same direction as the magnetic field.
 A sheet of aluminium foil was placed on top of a pool of water.
o This allows the aluminium foil to move and spin.
 When a magnet above the foil is spun the aluminium sheet also spins.
 This is due to Lenz’s Law, where the aluminium foil will induce eddy currents (Faraday’s Law)
to create its own magnetic field which opposes the original changing magnetic field.
 To minimise this change in magnetic flux, the aluminium sheet will begin to spin, so that it
reduces the relative motion between itself and the rotating magnetic field.

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Module 2 – Motors and Generators
c. Gather, process and analyse information to identify some of the energy transfers and
transformations involving the conversion of electrical energy into more useful forms in the home
and industry.
 Since energy cannot be destroyed or created, it can only be transformed from one type to
the next and utilised in the house and industry for many practical applications.
o The advantage of electricity is not only that it is relatively easy to transport, but also
that it is easy to convert it into other forms.
 Using electrical energy, the household television is a prime example of the conversion of
electrical energy into light energy (the picture we see), sound energy (the music and sound
we hear).
o Ovens and kettles create heat energy from electrical energy
o Stereo systems create sound energy from electrical energy
o Light globes and TVs create light energy from electrical energy
o Washing machines create kinetic energy from electrical energy
 The same can be applied to hair dryers, which convert electrical energy to kinetic energy to
rotate a motor which converts this kinetic energy into heat energy through heat plates.
 The industry is also able to access this fundamental property of the conversion of energy
from one state to the next.
o In the industry electricity is most often converted into kinetic energy which drives
machinery used in the production of goods
o Chemical energy in car batteries and electroplating.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
Increased understanding of cathode rays led to the development of television.
 In 1855, German physicist Heinrich Geissler refined a vacuum pump so that it could be made
to evacuate a glass tube to with 0.01% of normal air pressure.
o Under normal conditions of temperature and pressure air is an insulator, but at
lowered pressure air becomes a conductor.
 In 1862 physicist Julius Plucker, a friend of Geissler sealed an electrode at each end of the
glass tube and then connected to a high voltage source, which then conducted an electric
o It was observed that the cathode glowed with a pale green light.
 Another physicist Eugene Goldstein was also independently studying the effect of high
voltage being applied to the glass tube. He determined that the ray that was produced
originated from the negative electrode, cathode. Thus he named these rays as ‘cathode
rays’ and the tubes became known as cathode ray tubes or discharge tubes.

a) Perform an investigation and gather first-hand information to observe the occurrence of

different striation patterns for different pressures in discharge tubes.
 By altering the pressure in the glass tubes Plucker demonstrated that there were progressive
changes with the fluorescence created with different colour effects.
 When a high voltage from an induction coil is applied across the terminal of a discharge
tube, the electrons from the cathode travel towards the anode. As the electron moves
between the electrodes, the electrons collide with the atoms of the gas, providing kinetic
energy to the electrons within the gas atom. This excess in energy is released as
 Striation patterns refer to light and dark areas inside a discharge tube.
o Electrons colliding with air particles release light dependant on the energy of the
electrons, but also on the amount of gas inside the tube.
o As the pressure of the gas changes, so too do the striation patterns.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 In this experiment, we had 4 discharge tubes each with different air pressures- 5%, 2%, 0.5%,
and 0.01% (measured as a percentage of standard atmospheric pressure).
 With 5% air, glowing purple/pink streamers formed, extending all the way from the cathode
to the anode.
 At 2%, the pattern changed to a series of alternating light and dark bands running
perpendicular to the length of the tube.
 At 0.5%, the dark gaps between the lines widened (i.e. There were fewer lines), with the
pink-purple glow concentrated around the anode, and a blue glow forming at the cathode.
 At 0.01%, there were no striations. Instead, the glass around the anode glowed yellow-
 The exact nature of the striation patterns varies depending on what gas is used

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
b) Perform an investigation to demonstrate and identify properties of cathode rays using
discharge tubes:

 By 1875 physicist William Crookes has redesigned a number of different discharge tubes to
determine the nature of the cathode rays.

Experiment Explanation
Maltese cross  The Maltese cross is placed in the path of the cathode rays:
 A sharp shadow of the cross is seen.
 Shows that cathode rays travel in straight lines and cast a shadow on opaque
 Same properties as light

Tubes with electric plates  This shows that cathode rays are associated with charged particles.
 The force produced by the charged plate’s electric field cause the electrons
to bend towards the positively charged plate.
 When initially conducted by Hertz it was observed that there was no
deflection at all, however this is incorrect as there should be a deflection.
 This incorrect observation was attributed to the poor equipment of that

Tubes with fluorescent screens  A fluorescent screen shows that cathode rays can cause fluorescence. When
and an external magnetic field. the cathode rays collide with the air particles, the reaction produces light.
 This demonstrates that cathode rays have energy.
 The cathode ray was deflected by an external magnetic field; this follows
that only charged particles are affected by a magnetic field.

Paddle wheel  A lightweight glass paddle wheel, able to rotate freely, is placed in the path
of the cathode rays so that the rays strike one edge of the wheel at a
tangent. The cathode rays cause the wheel to spin and move away from the
cathode. This demonstrates that the cathode rays must have momentum,
and therefore mass, and that they are emitted from the cathode.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
c) Explain the apparent inconsistent behaviour of cathode rays caused debate as to whether
they were charged particles or electromagnetic waves
 The debate about whether cathode rays were electromagnetic waves or streams of charged
particles remained unsolved until 1897 when English physicist J.J. Thomson showed beyond
doubt that the cathode rays were streams of negatively charged particles.
o Up until then the problem was the inconsistent behaviour of the rays, in the sense
that some experiment showed the ‘wave’ nature of the ray, whilst other showed the
‘particle’ nature.

Wave Properties Particle Properties

 Travelled in straight lines (they wrongly  Turned a paddle wheel when placed in its
assumed that particles cannot travel in a path (carries momentum and therefore
straight line) must have mass)
 Penetrated thin foils of metal (atoms of  Travelled considerably slower than light
the metal are mostly space so the (not an EMR as it doesn’t travel at the
chances of an electron hitting an atom speed of light and not mechanical as it is
are very small) in a vacuum where there are not air
 Originally they were not deflected by molecules)
electric fields (attributed to poor  Deflected by magnetic fields
vacuums)  Left the surface at 90° (not radiating like
 Produced a sharp shadow of an opaque a wave)
object in its path  Negatively charged particles were deposited
 The rays could be reflected, refracted on the anode.
and polarized

NOTE: in J.J. Thomson experiment, he correctly proved that cathode rays were deflected by
electric fields, because he was able to use a discharge tube that almost had a vacuum inside
the tube, whereas Hertz’s discharge tube did not have near vacuum conditions and so the
effect of the deflection from the magnetic field was reduced, to what he perceived to be as
no deflection.

d) Explain that cathode ray tubes allowed the manipulation of a stream of charged particles
 Cathode ray tubes are a source of a steady stream of (negatively) charged particles; hence
they are able to be manipulated in several ways.
 Cathode rays can be manipulated either remotely via electric fields and magnetic fields, or
directly by obstructing the charged particles.
 The rays can be manipulated by electric and magnetic fields because both fields are able to
permeate through the glass tube and exert a force on charged particles.
 Physical obstructions can be placed inside the tube to block the path of the rays; this
includes thin metal sheets, thick metals (Maltese cross) or a paddle wheel).

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
e) Identify that moving charged particles in a magnetic field experience a force and describe
quantitatively the force acting on a charge moving through a magnetic field F=qvbsinθ
 As a current carrying conductor inside an external magnetic field experiences as force, so too
do charged particles inside a magnetic field.
o Since current is the flow of charge (negative electrons).
 A charged particle moving through a magnetic field experiences a force related to its velocity
and its direction of travel relative to the field.
o If the particle is travelling parallel to the field there is no force applied.
o If the particle is travelling perpendicular (90 degrees) to the field, then maximum
force is applied.

 The right hand palm rule is used to calculate the direction in which this force is applied.
o Note: the right hand palm rule determines the direction a positive charge would
move, thus to find the direction of a negative charge, it is in the opposite direction
to which the palm faces.

f) Discuss qualitatively the electric field strength due to a point charge, positive and negative
charges and oppositely charged parallel plates and identify that charged plates produce an
electric field
 The strength of an electric field at any point is defined as the size of the force acting per unit
of charge
 The direction of the electric field at any point is defined as the direction in which a positive
charge will experience a force at that point in the electric field.
 Using Faraday’s ‘lines of force’ we see that these lines radiate from a point at the centre of
the charge.
o For a positive charge, the field lines radiate outwards from the centre of the charge.
o For a negative charge the field
lines point towards to centre of
the charge.
 The field lines obey the inverse square
law, so the field diminishes with
increasing distance from the charge.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 If two positive charges are placed near each other, the charges experience a force of

 If a positive charge and a negative charge

are placed near each other, the charges
experience a force of attraction.

 Charged plates, (plates with a potential

difference) produce an electric field running between them.
o The field lines run from the positive plate to negative and are parallel and
equidistant; this means that the field strength at any point between the plates is the

g) Describe quantitatively the electric field due to oppositely charged parallel plates
 The magnitude of an electric field is determined by finding the force acting on a unit charge
at that point:

Where F = electric force (N)

q = electric charge (C)
E = electric field strength (NC-1)

 When the potential difference is applied to the plates a uniform electric field is produced.
The strength of the field is the same everywhere, except near the edges

Where E = electric field strength (NC-1)

V = voltage/potential difference (V)
d = distance between plates (m)

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
h) Outline Thomson’s experiment to measure the charge/mass ratio of an electron
 In 1897 English physicist Joseph John Thomson conducted experiments to prove that
cathode rays were indeed made from charged particles.
 In his initial experiment, Thomson verified Crookes’ hypothesis that cathode rays would be
deflected by electric fields. In this experiment he placed parallel plates inside the cathode
ray tube and passed the rays through
the plates.
o He observed that the
direction of the rays moved
towards the positively
charged plate, showing that
cathode rays were negatively
charged particles.
 His next experiment was to measure
the charge to mass ratio of the
cathode ray particles.
o Thomson’s cathode ray tube
consisted of charged parallel
plates providing a uniform
electric field and a source of
uniform magnetic field.
 Thomson varied the magnetic and
electric field so that they effect on
the cathode ray was cancelled out
and the ray passed though
o He then equated the electric
and magnetic force equation to determine the velocity of the cathode ray particles.
 Then by only passing the cathode rays through a magnetic field of same strength, he
observed the particles underwent circular motion and then determined the radius of the
circular path the charged particle travelled in the magnetic field.
 By then combining both results he was able to determine the charge to mass ratio of a
cathode ray particle.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
1. Equating force due to magnetic and electric field:

2. Equating centripetal force of charged particle and force due to magnetic field:

Substitute on RHS for v and substitute for vB on LHS

In substitute vB for E

Significance of Thomson’s findings:

 The experiment proved cathode rays were negatively charged particles:

o The fact that the charge to mass ratio of cathode rays was successfully measured
indicated that cathode rays had measurable mass, which in turn provided definitive
evidence for the particle nature of cathode rays
 It showed that the particles had a relatively large charge with very little mass
o Thomson found the charge to mass ratio of cathode rays were 1800 times the
charge to mass ratio for protons (hydrogen ion)
o This meant that the charge of the cathode ray was 1800 times the charge of a
proton, OR the mass of the cathode ray was 1800 times smaller than the mass of a
o Through further research Thomson concluded that the mass of a cathode ray was
1800 times less than a proton.
 It contributed to the discovery of electrons and the development of the models of atoms:
o The results from the experiment led to suggest that cathode rays were a new class
of particles, later to be called electrons.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
o The same charge to mass ratio was measured when different metals were used as
the cathode. This indicated that cathode rays (electrons) are common to all types of
o This was one piece of evidence that led Thomson to believe electrons were
subatomic particles, and later to propose the ‘plum pudding’ model of atoms.
 It allowed the mass of electrons to be calculated:
o Millikan’s famous oil drop experiment accurately determined the charge of
electrons. Knowing the charge to mass ratio of electrons, the mass of electrons
could be easily calculated.

i) Outline the role of:

a. Electrodes in the electron gun
b. The deflection plates or coils
c. The fluorescent screen
In the cathode ray tube of conventional TV displays and oscilloscopes.

Electron Gun:

 The electron gun is used to produce a fast

moving stream of electrons.
 A thermionic cathode releases the electrons by
thermionic emission.
o The cathode is heated to a high
temperature which then releases the
 The high potential difference between the
cathode and the anode causes the electron to
accelerate to very high speeds along the tube.
o The anode also helps to focus the
electrons into one beam.
 Several ring shaped electrodes between the anode and the cathode controls the
‘brightness’ of the beam, by controlling the number of
electrons emitted by the gun.

Deflection System:

 The deflection system consists of two charged parallel

o The y-plates control the vertical deflection
o The x-plates control the horizontal deflection.

Consider the diagram on the right:

 In a) there is no potential difference between the

plates, hence the beam is not deflected.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 In b) a steady voltage is given to the plates so that there is a potential difference between
the plates so that the top plate is positively charged. Thus the beam will deflect upwards
o The greater the voltage, the greater the deflection.
o Similarly the beam would deflect downwards if the bottom plate were made
 Now it follows that if the polarity of the plates changed at a regular interval, then the beam
would deflect up and down at the same frequency as the voltage.
o For 50 Hz AC, the spot would move up and down 50 times per second, fast enough
to appear as a solid vertical line.

Fluorescent Screen:

 The glass screen of the CRT is coated with a fluorescent material on the inside (e.g. zinc
 When an electron beam hits this coating, the material fluoresces and a spot of light is seen
on the screen.

Cathode Ray Oscilloscope:

 A CRO uses a cathode

ray tube to display a
variety of electrical
signals as waveforms.
 CRO is a widely used
test instrument in
science and industry
because of its ability to
make voltage ‘visible’.
 The thermionic cathode
fires electrons which
are then focused into a
beam by passing
through electrodes.
 The anode accelerates
these electrons down
the tube.
 The X and Y deflection plates deflects the beam in correspondence to the input signal.
 The X plates deflect the beam horizontally, and when the spot reaches the end of the screen,
it goes back to the start.
o This is achieved by using a saw-tooth voltage
o A time base control allows the sweep rate to be varied.
 The Y plates deflect the beam vertically and correspond to the input signal.
 The fluorescent screen displays the waveform of the input signal, by providing a trace of the
spot movement.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation

 Conventional television and CRTs used a cathode ray tube as their output device.
 A colour television camera records images through three colour filters – red, green and blue.
 The information is transmitted to the receiver which then directs the appropriate signal to
one of the three electron guns each corresponding to one of the primary colours (RGB).
 The picture is then reconstituted by an additive process involving three coloured phosphors.
o Each phosphor corresponds to an electron gun.
 Instead of electric fields the CRT uses magnetic fields to deflect the electron beam as the
magnetic coils allow for a wider angle beam than electric coils would allow.
o There are two-time based circuit which control the horizontal and vertical deflection
o The result is that the electron beam zigzags down the screen.
 The image is made up of 625 horizontal lines of dots (pixels).
o The beam sweeps across the screen twice; the first sweep hitting the pixels that lie
in an odd numbered line and the second sweep hitting pixels in the even numbered
o Each scan takes 1/50 of a second, which is faster than the eye can retain the image,
so the screen does not seem to flicker.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
The reconceptualisation of the model of light led to an understanding of the
photoelectric effect and black body radiation
Idea: The photoelectric effect
a) Outline qualitatively Hertz’s experiments in measuring the speed of radio waves and how
they relate to light waves
b) Describe Hertz’s observation of the effect of a radio wave on a receiver and the
photoelectric effect he produced but failed to investigate
 It was not until 1887 that Heinrich Hertz demonstrated experimental evidence for the
existence of electromagnetic waves first postulated by Scottish physicist James Clerk
o Maxwell had proposed a link between electricity and light in the form of four
mathematical equations.
 Maxwell’s two most important predictions were that:
o Electromagnetic waves could exist with many frequencies
o All such waves would propagate through space at the speed of light ( )
 Hertz thought he could produce electromagnetic waves by creating a rapidly oscillating
electric field with an induction coil that caused a rapid sparking across a gap in a conducting
o His hypothesis was that the sparks in the induction coil set up changing magnetic
and electric fields that propagated as
an electromagnetic wave.
 He observed that when a small length of wire
was bent into a loop so that there was a
small gap and held near the sparking
induction coil, a spark would jump across the
gap in the loop.
o He noticed this occur when a spark
crossed the gap in the terminals of
the induction coil.
o This sparking is the loop occurred
despite there being no connection to any electrical source.
o Hertz concluded that this loop was a detector of electromagnetic waves, and now
became the first experimental evidence for the existence of electromagnetic waves.
 Hertz then went on to show that these electromagnetic waves could be:
o Reflected from a metal mirror
o Refracted as they passed through a prism made from pitch.
o Polarised – when the receiver was perpendicular to the induction coil terminals no
sparks were produced, and when it was parallel the spark in the receiver coil was
 These were all properties displayed by light.
 Hertz also suggested that there must be a delay for the appearance of the spark on the
induction coil terminals and the detector loop, as the waves travelling at a certain velocity
take a finite time to travel from the transmitter to the receiver.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
o To measure speed Hertz needed to determine the frequency and wavelength and
then calculate the speed using v =fλ.
 To obtain frequency Hertz used a LC circuit (inductor-capacitor circuit) to manipulate the
frequency of sparking.
o He chose a frequency that was not associated with light.
o He measured the frequency in the secondary circuit and was found to be the same
as in the primary because of the property of resonance.
 To measure wavelength, Hertz used the wave property of interference.
 Reflecting one wave off a metal plate and directing the
other wave directly at the receiver, he created a
standing wave.
 From the constructive and destructive interference
patterns produced by the standing wave, Hertz was able
to measure the wavelength.
 He found that this his measured speed corresponded to the speed predicted by Maxwell’s
equations; it was the same as the speed of light.
 Hertz also noticed that the gap in the receiver could be increased whilst still inducing a spark
if ultraviolet light was shone onto the gap. (He noticed that the effect on the receiver
terminals was maximised with UV light)
o Hertz placed a sheet of glass (a UV light absorber) between the transmitter and the
receiver and found that the glass shielded the spark so that no effect was produced
at the receiver end.
o Removing the glass resulted in the spark returning between the gap in the receiver.
 Hertz did not recognise that the UV light in the transmitter spark was removing electrons
from the terminals of the receiver with ease and hence a spark was still able to be produced
with a larger gap.
 This experiment showed the existence of electromagnetic waves, but also demonstrated the
photoelectric effect.
o However as Hertz did not have an understanding of the photoelectric effect, he did
investigate this phenomenon further.

c) Perform an investigation to demonstrate the production and reception of radio waves

 This investigation was carried out using an induction coil. The spark was generated when the
high voltages jumped across the varying size gap – independent variable.
 With the knowledge that this oscillating spark would emit low frequency (and sometimes,
moderate frequency) a normal radio was turned on to the AM setting.
o We first tested a station that had a reception on that band and during the broadcast,
intermittent cracks could be heard only when the induction coil was turned on.
o We then investigated the effect of this EMR emitted on a channel that had no
broadcast and it was extremely evident by the effect on the static that radio waves
were in fact being produced.

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d) Identify Planck’s hypothesis that radiation emitted by the walls of a black body cavity is
 A black body is any object that will absorb 100% of radiation that hits it and therefore
appears black.
o The black body theory can be observed and tested against a black, fully sealed
furnace in which burns a hot fire that can monitored and a small cavity (hole) is
drilled in the wall of the furnace.
o We know that the furnace will not be able to let any radiation escape; however, the
walls of the furnace will begin to absorb the radiation of the fire (such as ultraviolet
and infra-red electromagnetic radiation).
o From the small cavity in the wall, some external radiation will be able to enter the
furnace and be absorbed by the walls of the black furnace when the radiation hits it.
o However; radiation must also be emitted from the walls and therefore establishes an
equilibrium state (input = output).
 Classical theory predicted that the radiation emitted by a black body should continuously
increase in intensity as the wavelength becomes shorter, forming a continuous spectrum
with intensities effectively corresponding to an exponential curve.
 This was not supported by experimental data which showed that the amount of energy
radiated reaches a maximum at a wavelength that depends on the temperature of the black
body, and then drops sharply for smaller wavelengths.
o Also, an exponential curve would violate conservation of energy since the total
energy (the area under the graph) would be infinite.

 Planck resolved this problem with his hypothesis of quantised radiation which explained the
experimental data, stating that radiation could only occur in small discrete packets which he
called “quanta”.
o The energy contained within a single quantum is dependant only on the frequency of
the radiation according to the formula E = hf.
 Further, the vibration states of atoms in the black body cavity were also quantised, meaning
that they could only have specific discrete frequency values.
 Since energy is only emitted when these atoms change vibrational states moving to a less
energetic state, the energy released is also quantised.

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e) Identify data sources, gather, process and analyse information and use available evidence
to identify and assess Einstein’s contribution to quantum theory and its relation to black
body radiation
 Einstein’s work was of significant contribution to the establishment of the quantum theory
and its acceptance in the scientific community by taking Planck’s theories about black body
radiation and applying them to solve a separate problem.
 Einstein used Planck’s hypothesis of the emission of quantised energy from black bodies to
propose a wave-particle duality model to explain the observations and characteristics of light
(and all electromagnetic radiation) that could not be explained under classical physics.
o He turned quantum theory into a set of ideas with concrete principles and
o From this Einstein was able to explain the nature of the black body curve:
 Atoms from the black body absorb energy from frequencies that match the atoms
natural vibration state (frequency).
 The number of atoms vibrating at a certain frequency is related to the intensity.
 So at a certain temperature, there are a set number of atoms that vibrate at the
 At peak intensity, the number of atoms vibrating at that frequency is at a
 The colour we observe (say from the sun: orange-yellow), is the colour that
corresponds to the peak wavelength. This is so because at peak intensity, the
number of atoms vibrating it maximum and hence the most energy is re-emitted.
 His work on quantum theory also helped him to develop an explanation for the photoelectric
effect. In 1905, Albert Einstein combined Planck’s hypothesis that the energy of radiation
was quantised and the particle model of light to explain the photoelectric effect, as follows:
o Light behaves like particles called photons; each carries a discrete package of energy.
o The energy of the photon is related to its frequency by E = hf.
o The collisions between photons and electrons lead to the photoelectric effect.
o A photon can transfer either all of its energy to an electron, or none, but it could not
give up part of it, this is ‘all or nothing’ principle
 By using quantum theory to explain the photoelectric effect, solving a real problem with a
concrete model for the solution that fully explained experimental observations, Einstein
validated quantum theory, endorsed its solving of black body radiation, and opened the door
for further research based on quantum ideas.

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f) Explain the particle model of light in terms of photons with particular energy and
 The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons from metals when they are bombarded
with EMR.
 The particle model of light is that light energy travels in photons; and it is that energy in
these photons that activate the electrons in a metal.
o By increasing the frequency of the light, the energy of the photon also increases.
 All photons of light that have a particular frequency have precisely the same
amount of energy.
o When a photon strikes the metal all (or none) of the energy will be passed on to the
electron and then be emitted as a spark.
 Intensity of light is dependent on the amount of photons, not the energy of the photons.
 Only photons with energy above the work function (W) of a metal can cause the
photoelectric effect.
o The work function is defined to be the minimum energy required to free electrons
from the metal surface, and is different for different metals.
o The minimum frequency the light must have to cause the photoelectric effect in a
metal is called the threshold frequency for that metal.
o The kinetic energy of the photoelectrons released is determined by the difference
between the energy of the photon (hf) and the work function (Φ) of the metal:
o Ek = hf – Φ

Graphical Analysis:

 Plotting the maximum kinetic energies of photoelectrons emitted against the frequencies of
the illuminating EMR for one particular metal surface (a fixed work function), will result in a
graph like the one below.

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A few important features of the graph need to be emphasised:

 The slope of the graph is equal to Planck’s constant h. If graphs are drawn for other metals
with different work functions, all those graphs will be parallel to each other, as they all share
the same slope h.
 The x-intercept of the graph is equal to the threshold frequency. If a metal with a larger
work function is used, this point shifts to the right, indicating that a higher threshold
frequency is required.
 The absolute value of the y-intercept of the graph is equal to the work function of the metal.
If a metal with a larger work function is used, then the y-intercept shifts downwards.

Phillip Lenard Experiment:

 German physicist Phillip von Lenard studied how the energy of emitted photoelectrons
varied with the intensity of the light used.

 The incident light caused photoelectrons to be given of the cathode and move towards the
collector. The resulting photocurrent was measured by the ammeter.
 By making the collector negative, Lenard was able to reduce the photocurrent to zero.
o When the photocurrent was zero, the applied voltage across the terminals is known
stopping voltage.
o Stopping voltage is the minimum voltage required for collector to become negative
and stop the flow of photoelectrons.
 By doing this Lenard could measure the energy of the photoelectrons. Only the
photoelectrons with enough energy would be able to overcome this potential and reach the
o Using the relationship between the work done to stop the photoelectron and then
energy i.e.
o where is the stopping voltage

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Characteristic Classical Prediction Experimental Results (Supported by
Quantum Prediction)
Intensity  As the intensity of light increases,  The kinetic energy of the
the energy of light increases. photoelectrons remains constant.
 Therefore the kinetic energy of  The intensity of the light
the photoelectrons would determines the number of
increase. photoelectrons emitted.
 Affects the magnitude of the
Emission Time  The photoelectric effect is a  The photoelectric effect is
function of time. instantaneous.
 There should be a time delay as
the electrons absorb the energy
and leave the metal conductors
Frequency  Emission is independent of  Emission is frequency dependent.
frequency.  Each photon can make only one
 If a light wave, that doesn’t have electron leave.
enough energy to make the  Photons can transfer either all or
electron leave initially, none of their energy to electrons.
continuously hits the electron, it  If it does not have the required
would eventually gather enough frequency (threshold frequency),
energy to make the electron then the electron does not leave.

g) Identify the relationships between photon energy, frequency, speed of light and
wavelength E = hf and c = fλ

Where E = energy of the photon (J) or (eV – electron volts)

h = Planck’s constant (6.626x10-34 Js-1)
f = frequency of the light (Hz)

Where c = speed of light (3.0x108 ms-1)

f = frequency of the wave (Hz)
λ = wavelength of the wave (m)

 According to E = hf and c = fλ, the relationships between variables can be deduced.

o Since the speed of light is constant, if the frequency of the light increases then
wavelength decreases and vice versa.
 With photon energy, h is constant, so when f is increased photon energy increases (E is
directly proportional to f).
o Therefore it is inversely proportional to the wavelength λ, as deduced from the
relationship between wavelength and frequency.

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h) Identify data sources, gather, process and present information to summarise the use of the
photoelectric effect in photocell
 A photocell is an application of the photoelectric effect.
 The photoelectric effect is used to produce an electrical current within the device’s circuit.
 Photocells consist of a cathode and an anode
embedded inside a low-pressure glass bulb, with the
cathode being coated in a photosensitive material.
 When light falls onto to the photosensitive cathode,
electrons are emitted as a result of the photoelectric
o The photoelectrons are then accelerated
towards the anode (by placing a potential
difference between them) which results in a
o The photocurrent is proportional to the
intensity of the light that falls on the cathode.
 Applications of this device include:
o Light meter/detector – radiation detector
o Photovoltaic – solar cells (in more detail in
next d.p.)
o Breathalysers
o Automatic switches, etc…

i) Process information to discuss Einstein’s and Planck’s differing views about whether
science research is removed from social and political forces
 In the late nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth, Germany was the
pre-eminent European power and cultural centre for literature, philosophy and the sciences.
o German scientists led the charge to discover the fundamental workings of the
o Foremost among the German physicists were Max Planck and Albert Einstein.


 Einstein is considered one of the greatest physicists who ever lived. His special theory of
relativity and general relativity and his investigation into the photoelectric effect all had
profound impacts on the way humans perceive the universe
 Besides his devotion to physics, he was a strong believer in pacifism – he opposed wars and
o Einstein was a politically active man, he openly criticised German militarism during
World War 1.
o After WW1 he travelled around Europe to give lectures on his work in physics, but
more importantly preach his pacifist ideals and promoting peace.
 As a Jew Einstein suffered prejudice in Germany during the rise of the Hitler and the anti-
Semitism groups.

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o Consequently he immigrated to California, USA.
o Contrary to his previous pacifist views he now advocated re-armament of
democratic government to oppose the Nazi tyranny at the brink of WW2.
 In 1939 Einstein wrote his famous letter to the president Franklin Roosevelt, to warn him
about a possible threat of a nuclear bomb, from Germany. He also suggested Roosevelt to
set up a project to make nuclear bombs (now known as the ‘Manhattan Project’.
o After learning that Germany was now where near to making an atomic bomb, he
painfully regretted his decision, knowing that his creation was the most powerful
and deadly weapon ever known to mankind, of which was the reason behind tens of
thousands of Japanese were killed in the Hiroshima bombing.


 Planck was an avowed nationalist and as such believed in the righteousness of the German
cause and its inevitable victory.
o He support for the German military and cause led to Planck being alienated from his
German and British colleagues.
 After the defeat of Germany, German science was isolated from the rest of Europe.
o He believed that by increasing respect for German science, it would inevitably lead
to greater respect to Germany as a whole.
 With the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime, German science was once again marginalised
from the world.
o Many German scientists, including Einstein fled the country during this time.
 Planck’s famous quantum theory made him the authority in German physics, despite the
hostility of the anti-Semitism groups towards the ‘decadent Jewish science’ of relativity and
quantum theory.
o As a result Planck was able to continue his academic career in Berlin.
o Unlike Einstein, Planck did not see the moral imperative of opposing Hitler but tried
to compromise by working ‘within the system’ to save German science.
 After all Jewish teachers were sacked from German universities Planck began to protest
against the anti-Semitism directed towards Jewish scientists.
o This led him to refuse any work of war projects.

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Limitations of past technologies and increased research into the structure of
the atom resulted in the invention of transistors.
a) Identify that some electrons in solids are shared between atoms and move freely
b) Describe the difference between conductors, insulators and semiconductors in terms of
band structures and relative electrical resistance
c) Compare qualitatively the relative number of free electrons that can drift from atom to
atom in conductors, semiconductors and insulators
 An atom consists of a small and dense positive nucleus that contains protons and neutrons;
around the nucleus are electrons, which are organised into distinct orbits, called electron
o The outermost electron shell of all atoms is given the name valence shells, and
electrons within this shell are called valence electrons.
o These electrons have the highest energy than any other electron in other shells.
 In an isolated atom, the electrons occupy a series of energy levels that are clearly distinct.
o Electrons in corresponding shells have the same energy level.
 When atoms come together to form a lattice structure (solid), valence electrons begin to
interact with neighbouring valence electrons from other atoms.
o With these interactions the energy levels of each atom slightly changes and now the
energy levels are not distinct anymore. (This is due to Pauli’s exclusion principle,
where by no two electrons can hold the same energy state simultaneously).
 This results in the energy levels being spread out and now taking a range of
energy values.
o This range of energy is now called an energy band.

 The valence band is made of the energy levels found from valence electrons.
o The valence band can be thought of as the normal outer shell of an atom where
electrons are chained to a particular atom.
o The valence band has higher energy than energy bands formed from inner shells.
 When electrons from the valence band are given a certain amount of energy, they are able
to move up to a higher energy band, known as the conduction band.

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o When electrons are in the conduction band they are able to move freely between
other atoms in the lattice.
o When an electric field is applied, the movement of these electrons constitutes an
electric current
 Some energy levels are forbidden, which results with a gap between bands.
o This gap is known as the forbidden energy gap.
o The gap lies between the valence and conduction band.
o This gap corresponds to the gap between energy levels in a single atom.
 This follows de Broglie’s wave model, where electrons are shown to display a wave-particle
o For an electron to go to the next energy level, it must absorb a specific quantum of
o The electron cannot jump to the next level, if it does not have the specific amount of
energy. This means that an electron cannot be between energy levels, and hence
the gap between energy levels becomes forbidden.
 Different materials vary in their ability to conduct electricity.
o This is dependent on the ease with which electrons are able to move.
 Insulators are materials in which the movement of electrons are restricted and hence are
poor conductors of electricity.
o This is attributed to the atoms having a strong covalent bond (atoms share electron
pairs). This type of bonding is very strong and electrons are held tightly in place.
o The forbidden energy gap in insulators is large meaning that there is a large
electrical resistance, and thus very few or no electrons are able to move to the
conduction band.
 Conductors are materials in which the movement of electrons are not restricted, but
allowed to move freely, and hence conduct electricity well.
o Metals, or metal lattices consists of an orderly array of positive metal ions
surrounded by a sea of delocalised valence electrons.
o Delocalised valence electrons are
random freely moving valence
electrons inside the metal lattice.
 Hence these electrons do
not belong to any
particular atom, but are
shared between atoms.
o In a conductor, there is no forbidden energy gap; rather, the valence band slightly
overlaps the conduction band.
 Since a metal’s valence band is only partially filled, by providing electrons
with additional energy, results in them moving to the valence band.
o Thus a large number of electrons are available for conduction and as a result,
conductors have low electrical resistance.
 Semi-conductors are best described as having both properties of a conductor and an

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 A valence electron from one atom forms 4 covalent bonds with valence electrons from
nearby atoms, in the semiconductor lattice.
o This means that the valence shells of each atom has 8 electrons, hence the valence
band of a semiconductor is also full.
o At room temperature there is sufficient thermal energy for some electrons to jump
the gap. Hence at room temp. The conductivity of a semiconductor is moderate.
 This follows that the forbidden energy gap is very small.
 By providing additional thermal energy to the semiconductor more of the electrons from the
valence band gain enough kinetic energy to jump to the conduction band.
o This effectively means that conductivity increases. However it is expected at higher
temperatures the conductivity will decrease due to increase in resistance
(undesirable electron collisions). But due to the substantial increase in number of
electrons in the conduction band, the effect of resistance is almost negated.

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d) Identify absences of electrons in a nearly full band as holes, and recognise that both
electrons and holes help to carry current
 At absolute zero, all of the electrons in a semiconductor occupy the valence band and hence
the material acts as an insulator, as the temperature rises, the electron absorbs a specific
quantum of energy to escape from the valence band to the conduction band.
 As an electron from the valence band jumps to the conduction band, there will be an
electron deficiency in the valence band.
o This missing electron creates a positive hole in the valence band.
o The electron and the hole form an electron-hole pair.
 These positive holes act as a flow of positive current moving in the opposite direction to
electron flow.
o These positive holes are imaginary and do not exist but are rather just regions of
electron deficiency.
 The positive holes do not physically move, but when an electron in the valence band moves
into the hole, the position the electron previously occupied now becomes a hole.
o Thus the movement of these electrons creates the movement of positive holes in
the opposite direction.
 Now when an electric field is applied to a semiconductor, electrical conduction can now
occur in the conduction band, and the valence band

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e) Describe how ‘doping’ a semiconductor can change its electrical properties
f) Identify differences in p and n-type semiconductors in terms of the relative number of
negative charge carriers and positive holes
 Semi-conductors are classified into two main categories:
o Intrinsic semiconductors
o Extrinsic semiconductors


 An intrinsic semiconductor is pure semiconductor, i.e. it does not have any impurity and only
contains the atoms of the one element.
o Intrinsic semiconductors are group IV elements, namely silicon and germanium.
o Intrinsic semiconductors conduct electricity by electron-hole pair conduction
(intrinsic conduction).


 Sometimes an impurity atom (dopant) of a different type to the atom making up the main
crystal lattice is added to the semiconductor’s lattice.
o It is now called an extrinsic semiconductor.
 When a dopant atom has a different number of valence electrons than the semiconductors
atoms, extra energy levels are formed between the valence and conduction bands.
o This makes it easier for electron to go from the valence band to the conduction band
because the energy difference between the two bands for the dopant atom is now
o Hence doping significantly increases the conductivity of the semiconductor.

 Extrinsic semiconductors are further classified in to two groups:

o P-type semiconductors
o N-type semiconductors

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 P-type semiconductors are formed when a Group III dopant atom is substituted into the
semiconductor lattice to replace a Group IV semiconductor atom (say
o Group III elements namely used include: boron or gallium.
 Group III atoms only consist of 3 valence electrons. This means that
after the substitution there is one electron short in the tetrahedral
o Thus only three of the covalent bonds are completed and
hence in the remaining unfilled covalent bond the missing
electron creates a positive hole.
o This positive hole now acts as a mobile positive charge carrier
when an electric field is applied.
 In terms of band structure, the dopant atom (trivalent or acceptor atom) provides an extra
energy level between conduction and valence bands, that is at the bottom of the forbidden
energy gap.
o At room temperature there is sufficient thermal energy available for some electrons
from the valence band to move into the acceptor band, leaving a hole in valence
 Under the influence of an electric field, the electrons in the valence band will move towards
the positive terminal and fill the any hole. As the electron fills a hole, the original position in
which the electron resided becomes a hole.
o Like this, the positive hole moves towards the negative terminal while electrons
move towards the positive.
 In p-type semiconductors, positive holes constitute (act as) the majority carriers of current
whereas negative charge carriers are a minority.


 N-type semiconductors are formed when a Group V dopant atom is substituted in to the
semiconductor lattice to replace the Group IV semiconductor atom.
o Group V elements namely include: phosphorus or arsenic.
 Group V atoms contain 5 valence electrons. This means that after substitution there is an
extra electron remaining, of which the other four have been
completely used in the formation of covalent bonds with neighbouring
o This dopant atom is called a pentevalent atom or donor atom.
 In terms of band structure n-type semiconductors consists of a
completely filled valence band, to which a surplus of electrons reside
in an energy band at the top of the forbidden energy gap, called the
‘donor band’.
o At room temperature, there is sufficient thermal energy for
the electron from the donor band to jump to the conduction

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o Under the influence of an electric field, these electrons being in the conduction band
will now constitute an electric current.
 In n-type semiconductors, negative charge carriers (electrons) constitute the majority
carriers of current where as positive holes constitute a minority.

g) Identify that the use of germanium on early transistors is related to lack of ability to
produce other materials of suitable purity


 Germanium was the first group 4 element that could be sufficiently purified to behave as a
 As an element, germanium is relatively rare only making 1.5ppm of the Earth’s crust.
o It is also never found as a free element in nature, but as a compound.
 Early diodes and transistors were made from germanium because suitable industrial
techniques were developed to purify the germanium to the level required for
semiconductors during 1940-50.
 Germanium has one major problem: it becomes a relatively good conductor when it gets
o This means that when the semiconductor gets too hot, too much current passes
through the electronic components. This can damage the electronic equipment and
cause it to fail to perform the tasks it was designed for.


 Silicon was the other element with semiconductor properties that was identified as being
ideal in the use for electronic components.
 Silicon in nature is very common; it is the second most abundant element by weight found in
the Earth’s crust (after oxygen).
o Like germanium silicon is found as a compound in nature and hence it must be fist
purified for it to be used as a semiconductor.
 Unlike germanium, scientists had not been able to purify silicon to the level required. (The
techniques used to purify germanium could not be applied to silicon, because it was much
more complex).
o However, silicon was the superior semiconductor because it was less affected by
temperature and hence was able to retain its semiconductor properties at higher
 However as technological advancements came, scientists were able to devise a purification
method for silicon in the 1950s.
 After the production of the first transistors using silicon, the germanium transistors were
beginning to phase out of production, and by the 1960s silicon became the material of
choice for solid state devices.

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h) Perform and investigation to model the behaviour of semiconductors, including the
creation of a hole or positive charge on the atom that has lost the electron and the
movement of electrons and holes in opposite directions when an electric field is applied
 The behaviour of a semiconductor when an electric field is applied can be modelled through
the use of chairs and students.
o In the diagram below:
 Students represent the electrons
 The grey circle – chair represents the holes

 As we can see, there is a missing electron, thus we start with a hole on the right.
o This hole creates a slightly positive region, which then attracts the electron into it.
o In this case the person next to the hole moves into the hole.
 This electron movement has now created a hole where it initially resides, and as a result the
person now standing next to the new hole moves in.
o In this case, the person standing next to the position where the first person initially
was, moves into his places.
 This process is continuous, and as we carefully observe, the holes are moving in an opposite
direction to the electrons.

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i) Describe differences between solid state and thermionic devices and discuss why solid
state devices replaced thermionic devices
j) Gather, process and present secondary information to discuss how shortcomings in
available technology led to an increased knowledge of the properties of materials with
particular reference to the invention of the transistor

 In electrical appliances there is often a need to control the direction of current flow,
convert AC into DC, and switch current flow on or off or to amplify the current.
o Prior to the development of solid state devices, thermionic or valve devices
accomplished these task.
 A thermionic device consists of a vacuum tube in which a cathode (electron emitting
electrode) and at least one other electrode are embedded.
o The thermionic device works on the principle of thermionic emission, which is
the spontaneous emission of electrons from solids when heated to a high
o As a result the cathode is actually a heating filament, which liberates electrons
that accelerated towards the cathode by the high potential difference.
 A diode valve is an example of a thermionic valve. It consists of small vacuum tube with
two embedded electrodes
o An anode and a thermionic cathode  electron flow between the two
constituted an electric current.
o The diode’s primary function was to rectify an AC current passing through, i.e.
only allow current to flow through one direction. (converting AC to DC)
 A triode valve is another example of a thermionic device, similar in structure to a diode;
a triode consists of a third electrode between the anode and cathode.
o The function of a triode valve is such that a small current passing through the
third electrode can be used to control and modify a large current in the main
circuit that is passing from the anode to the cathode.
o This development was important in the amplification of radio signal during
 During WW2, the use of thermionic devices became important in communications and in the
development of other technologies such as radar.
o The development of technologies such as radar was important for the war effort
because it would enable the detection of enemy movement before they could be
physically seen.
o The biggest problem with communication technology in the early days of the radio
was amplification; the received signal was extremely weak and could not produce a
loud sound without being amplified.
o With electronic circuits becoming more complex, more vacuum tubes, or valves,
were required, increasing the unreliability, size and power requirements of the
devices being built. These shortcomings in the available communication technology
fuelled the need to replace thermionic devices, thus scientists began to research
into the properties of semiconductors.
o Increased knowledge in the properties of semiconductor materials (with germanium
being identified the first), led to the solid state revolution.

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o However it took over a decade of research and experimentation until the transistor
was invented by John Bardeen and William Shockley in 1947; two years after the war
had ended.

Solid State Devices v Thermionic Devices:

 The relatively large size of thermionic devices limits their uses.

o Solid state devices such as diodes and transistors are considerably smaller (in
o Further reduction in size can be achieved in a microchip which may contain millions
of transistors within the size of a fingernail.
o The trend of miniaturisation of electronic devices, such as mobile phones and lap-
top computers, means the tiny solid state devices are much preferred.
 Solid state devices are quite tough and can withstand a reasonable amount of physical
impact. (Dropping a transistor might not necessarily break it.)
o On the other hand, thermionic devices are made from glass bulbs, which make them
extremely fragile, so they need to be handled with care.
o Also, solid state devices generally have a longer life span than thermionic devices,
which must be replaced after certain number of uses.
 Solid state devices operate at a much faster rate than thermionic devices; this makes them
particularly valuable in the production of fast operating microchips and microprocessors.
o In addition, solid state devices will function as soon as they are switched on,
whereas thermionic devices require warming up.
 Thermionic devices require very high voltages for their operation, whereas solid state
devices can function at voltages less than 1 V.
 In addition, a large amount of heat is dissipated during the operation of thermionic devices
so that there is a considerable amount of energy wasted.
o Solid state devices on the other hand only dissipate a small amount of energy during
their operation.
 Solid state devices are much cheaper to make than the thermionic devices, so they are more
economical when large quantities are needed.

Solid State Devices:

 Modern appliances utilise solid state devices, such as transistors and integrated circuits.
o Solid state devices (SSDs) are made from semiconductor materials.
 The earliest SSDs were discrete components like a diode or a transistor that is they were
separable components.

 A diode is an electronic device which only allows electric current to flow in one direction.
The development of the solid state diode came from the junction of a p-type and n-type
 A piece of p-type next to a region of n-type has unidirectional properties, meaning that
current flows easily in one direction but none in the opposite direction. This p-n junction
acts as a rectifier.
 P-type semiconductors have positive holes (electron deficient) and n-type semiconductors
have excessive electrons.
 When joined together, electrons from the n-type migrate into the p-type at the junction to
fill up the positive holes.

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o The p-type has more
electrons than before and
now becomes negatively
charged; similarly the n-
type is now electron
deficient and hence
becomes positively
 This diffusion of carriers results in
the semiconductor becoming
electrically charged; this results in
a potential difference across the
junction, also known as the depletion zone.
 Diodes are very important in the circuitry of many electronics; they form the basis of
rectifiers, which are devices that convert AC to DC.


 Just as thermionic diodes were replaced by solid state diodes, so too were triodes replaced
by transistors. A transistor is another type of solid state device that can act as a switch or as
part of an amplifier.
 The transistor consists of two p-n junctions in close proximity, it can be created either by
o placing a thin p-type layer between two n-type layers
o placing a n-type layer between two p-types
 Transistors have extensive applications in electronics.
 The three leads of a transistor allow it to be connected across two circuits.
 One circuit goes through the emitter and the base, while the other one goes through the
emitter and the collector.
o The flow of charge carriers (electrons) through the emitter and the base alters the
electric property of the middle piece semiconductor; this will affect the conductivity
of the transistor between the emitter and collector, thereby affecting the flow of
charges in that circuit.

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 This follows that a smaller
current flowing through the base
can modulate the larger
current in the main circuit.
Hence transistors are often used
as amplifiers
 Further, this small current in the
base can completely stop the
flow of current in the main
circuit, and hence
transistors can act as a
switch as well.

k) Identify data source, gather, process, analyse information and use available evidence to
assess the impact of the invention of transistors on society with particular reference to
their use in microchips and microprocessors
 The invention of transistors was a major breakthrough in science and had a great impact on
society, largely through the use of microprocessors and microchips.
 The development of transistors has revolutionised our society, by enabling the construction
of small, efficient computers that now have widespread application throughout society as
well as in scientific research.
o Prior to the development of the transistors, many of our known electrical devices
were run by vacuum tubes (thermionic devices). These vacuum tubes weighed
excessively and took up large amounts of space.
o Further it consumed a large amount of energy, whilst its efficiency was so great
o The use of such devices became an issue because of the maintenance required to
keep the device functioning for a long period of time.
 With the development of solid state devices as a replacement for the thermionic devices,
the process of miniaturisation began.
o Due to the much more compact and efficient design of these solid state devices,
many of the electronics involved in running an appliance can be reduced in size.
o So where as a room full of vacuum tubes may have been used to operate a
computer, a series of transistors could operate the same computer within a fraction
of the room.

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o This was enabled because of the development of microchips (or integrated circuits)
o An integrated circuit is an assembly of electronic devices and their connections,
fabricated in a single unit (chip), which is designed to carry out specific tasks.
o A typical microchip is small enough to fit within the size of a fingertip, but can
contain up to millions of transistors and diodes to carry out complex tasks.
o A more complicated form of the microchip was soon developed, the microprocessor.
The microprocessor is able to carry out more complex and powerful functions than a
microchip. The invention and development of integrated circuits form the
foundation for modern microelectronics and have promoted the development of the
so-called information society.
 The applications of integrated circuits (microchips) are extensive. They are found in many
forms of electronic devices, such as medical diagnosis applications, biotechnology,
telecommunications, and so forth.

Positive and Negative Impacts on Society:

 The use of microprocessors in household appliances has given path to home entertainment.
CD player, video machines, sewing machines, TV and radios provide entertainment and are
also very reliable, light and relatively cheap.
 Microchips and electronic circuitry have improved and advanced our method of
communication, e.g. internet, mobile phones, GPS devices, fax machines
 Small microchips have allowed robots to perform hazardous and repetitive tasks quickly and
efficiently with little supervision, such as in the automobile industry
 Negative impacts on society:
 Although implementing robot and other devices to perform human tasks have proven to be
efficient, it has resulted in drastically high unemployment rates.
 Extensive use of developments in electronics such as computer and the internet have
resulted in negative social impacts. There has been a reduction of face to face interaction
from many users of computers and audiences of television
 The use of solid state devices my military can be perceived as being non-beneficial by the
enemy and pacifist. Integrated circuits can be deadly weapons as they are capable of
accurately launching missiles to destroy humankind.

Though there have been negative impacts from the development of transistors into microchips and
microprocessor, the positive impacts that it has had on society has far outweighed them because it
has allowed society in whole to advance further in technology which has been able to provide a
better quality of life.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
l) Identify data sources, gather, process information to summarise the effect of light on
semiconductors in solar cells.
 Solar cells employ the semiconductor silicon and utilise the photoelectric effect.
o A solar cell consists of a joined p-type and n-type semiconductor, sandwiched in
between two metal contacts that are responsible for conducting electricity in and
out of the device.
 When light strikes the semiconductor layers of the solar, a phenomenon known as photo-
ionisation occurs. I.e. Each photon with more than the minimum energy level will free an
 At the p-n junction an electric field is created due to diffusion of electrons and positive
o Electrons from n-type migrate into holes in the p-type region. Thus n-type becomes
positively charge and p-type becomes negatively charged.
o The direction of the electric field is from the n-type to the p-type
 Electrons that have been freed near the depletion zone are accelerated by the electric field
into the n-region.
 These electrons will then flow through the metal contacts on the surface of n-type into the
external circuit to pass through a load and then move into the p-region to complete the
 Electrons that were removed from photoionisation initially are returned back into p-region,
where the process begins again, i.e. photoionisation removes an electron and then the
electric field accelerates the electron to the n-region and then through the external circuit
via the metal contacts.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
Investigations into the electrical properties of particular metals at different
temperatures led to the identification of superconductivity and the
exploration of possible applications
a) Outline the methods used by the Braggs to determine crystal structure
 Diffraction refers to the spreading out of light waves around the edge of an object or when
light passes through a small aperture.
 A diffraction grating is a device consisting of a large number of equidistant slits engraved on
a glass or metal surface and is used to produce a spectrum, i.e. the wave passing through the
diffraction grating is split into its individual components.
o E.g. when white light is shone onto a diffraction grating, all the different
wavelengths are split into distinct individual components.
 Diffraction is a wave characteristic, including electromagnetic radiation.
o The effect of diffraction is most notable when the distance between each slit of a
diffraction grating is comparable to the length of the wavelength of the oncoming
 With the discovery of X-rays in the late 19th century, studies on their nature revealed that
they were EMR. Further studies also revealed that their wavelength were much shorter than
visible light in range of 10-1om.
o For X-rays to undergo diffraction, a diffraction grating with slits separated by a
distance comparable to wavelength of an incoming X-ray.
 In 1912, German physicist Max Von Laue hypothesised that if the atoms in a crystal were
arranged in a regular manner, the crystal might act as a three dimensional diffraction grating
for X-rays.
o After performing an experiment using a crystal as an X-ray diffraction grating,
observable diffraction patterns were seen on a photographic plate.
o It also showed that the interatomic spacing in a crystal was comparable to the length
of the wavelength of an X-ray.
 British physicist Sir William Henry Bragg
and his Australian born son Sir William
Lawrence Bragg applied X-ray diffraction
to study the structure of crystals (X-ray
o They developed an X-ray
spectrometer to systematically
study diffraction of X-rays from
crystal surfaces.
o They proposed that when an X-
ray was shone onto the surface of the lattice, their extremely short wavelength
would be able to penetrate different planes of the lattice.
 When X-rays enter the crystal lattice, they are scattered in all directions.
o In some directions the scattered waves interfere constructively, resulting in
maximum intensity, while in other directions, destructive interference occurs
resulting in minimum intensity.

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o This observable pattern occurs as if the x-rays were reflected were reflected from
the parallel planes of the lattice,
o Though the x-rays are actually scattered from the atoms of the lattice, not reflected.
 W. L. Bragg determined a mathematical relationship between the length between each
plane, the wavelength of incoming radiation and the angle of reflection. This is given by
o nλ = 2dsinθ
 The Bragg’s experiment was set up as shown in the diagram.
 He used an X-ray tube operating at 40000V, to the produce the x-rays. These were then
passed through collimators
that produced a single x-ray
beam. The x-rays are then
scattered through the
crystal and then leave the
crystal, where the
diffracted rays can be
detected very precisely.
 After passing through the
crystal the x-rays were
passed onto a photographic
film, which gave an
interference pattern with
observable bright and dark

b) Identify that metals possess a crystal lattice structure

c) Describe conduction in metals as a free movement of electrons unimpeded by the lattice
 Metals have a crystal lattice structure in their solid state. This means that they exist as a
closed pack 3-dimensional grid of atoms arranged into layer.
o The structure is repeated throughout the whole
lattice, where each atom occupies a well-
defined equilibrium distance from its
 The classical model of metals defines valence electrons
as being shared by all of the atoms in the lattice,
forming a ‘sea of delocalised’ electrons.
o However, as these electrons have a random
motion, there is no net movement of charge.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 When an electric field is applied,
however, the electrons experience a
force that drives them all in one
direction. This produces a net drift of
electrons towards the positive
 As the electrons exist between metal
ions, under the influence of an electric
field, the metal conducts because the
electrons move freely between the lattice ions.

d) Identify that resistance in metals is increased by the presence of impurities and scattering
of electrons by lattice vibrations
 It is as a result of the collisions of the electrons with impurity ions or imperfections that the
metal offers resistance to the current flow.
 As temperature increases, the energy of the lattice increases, this results in an increase in
the vibration of lattice particles.
o These increased vibrations increase the likelihood of a collision with an electron and
the lattice, impeding the motion of electrons.
o Thus increase in temperature in metals, results in increase in resistance.
 Any impurities that distort the lattice structure, increase the chance of an electron collision,
and as a result increase resistance.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
e) Describe the occurrence in superconductors below their critical temperature of a
population of electron pairs unaffected by electrical resistance
f) Process information to identify some of the metals, metal alloys and compounds that have
been identified as exhibiting the property of superconductivity and their critical
 As mentioned earlier, temperature has a determining effect on the conductivity or
resistance of a metal conductor.
o At room temperatures, the metallic bonds (in the lattice) holding the conductor
together, vibrates and interferes with electron movement through the conductor.
 Superconductivity describes the state reached in a conductor when the resistance to
electron movement in a conductor drops to ZERO.
Consider the graph:
 When cooling a normal conductor, the resistance
to the current decreases (as lattice vibrations
o However some conductors when
continually cooled, the resistance of the
material suddenly drops to zero.
o This effect is known as
 The temperature at which a conductor becomes
a superconductor is known as the critical
 At temperatures below the critical temperature
of a superconducting material, lattice effects
that impede the electron movement change
dramatically from impeding to assisting electron flow.
o The reason this happens is explained in BCS theory.
 Below the critical temperature, when a material becomes a superconductor, pairs of
electrons form that that are unaffected by electrical resistance.
 There are two types of
o (Type 1) Pure metals –
superconductivity occurs at
temperatures close to
absolute zero
o (Type 2) Complex alloys of
metals and metal oxides –
superconductivity occurs at
higher temperatures, up to

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
g) Discuss the BCS theory
 According to classical physics, part of the resistance of a metal is due to collisions between
free electrons and the crystal lattice’s vibrations, known as phonons.
 A microscopic theory of superconductivity was developed in 1957 by John Bardeen, Leon
Cooper and J. Robert Schrieffer, which is known as
the BCS theory. This theory proposes an explanation
as to why materials lose all resistance and become
superconductors at their critical temperature.
 The key element of the BCS theory is that two
electrons are able to form a bound pair called
Cooper pairs.
o This pairing is a result from a phonon being emitted as an electron passes through
the lattice. As the phonon is emitted the lattice becomes distorted where the
positive ions are attracted to the electron and thus come closer.
o This distortion creates a small positive region in the lattice.
o A second electron travelling in the opposite direction to the first electron is
attracted to the phonon, i.e. the
positive region.
o The interaction of both electrons
with the phonon, results in the
formation of a cooper pair.
 From the BCS theory, cooper pairs must have
a total linear momentum of zero.
o This means that electron must be travelling in opposite directions (to conserve linear
o In addition, the second electron must have an opposite spin to the first (to conserve
angular momentum).
o The distance between each electron in a cooper can be up to 1000 interatomic
spaces. (coherence length)
 The cooper pairs have a transient nature that is they continually break up and reform.
o However once a cooper pair is broken, the electron forms a cooper pair with a
different electron. As a result, this process continually repeats, where until each
electron is attracted to each other forming a large network of phonon interactions.
o The collective behaviour of these electrons in the lattice prevents any electron-
lattice collisions, and thus a state of superconductivity is achieved.
 When an electric field is applied to a superconductor, the result is that the momentum of a
cooper pair slightly shifts from zero, so that on average one electron has a greater
momentum magnitude than the pair.
o This results in the net movement of electrons towards the positive terminal, despite
the electrons still moving in opposite directions.
o As a result the electrons are able to pass through the lattice unhindered; that is with
zero resistance.

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 This theory was extremely successful in explaining the superconductivity in Type 1
superconductors. However it is unable to explain superconductivity in Type 2
o This is due to the BCS model predicting the 30K is the maximum temperature at
which a cooper pair can form.
o However Type 2 superconductors can display superconductivity at higher
temperatures and as a result the BCS theory does little to explain Type 2

h) Analyse information to explain why a magnet is able to hover above a superconducting

material that has reached the temperature at which it is superconducting
 The phenomenon that a superconductor is able to completely exclude external magnetic
fields, and hence its internal magnetic field is zero, is known the Meissner effect.
 Magnetic fields are able to permeate through non-superconductors or superconductors that
are above their critical temperature. However when a magnetic field is applied to a
superconductor it can be seen that the magnetic fields do not permeate through the
o This is the
Meissner effect.
 When a superconductor is
subject to an external
magnetic field, a perfect eddy
current is induced on the
o The eddy is termed as
‘perfect’ because of the zero electrical resistance in a superconductor.
o As a result by Lenz’s law, this eddy current produces a magnetic field that is just as
strong as the external magnetic
field, but in the opposite
o This induced magnetic field repels
the external magnetic field which
prevents any magnetic field
entering the superconductor..
 This is also used to explain how a small
magnetic is able to hover above a
o In a sense, this induced perfect
eddy is able to create magnetic poles, which are able to repel the magnet’s poles,
with a force sufficient to counter the magnet’s weight.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
i) Perform an investigation to demonstrate magnetic levitation
 In this experiment, we had a ceramic superconducting disk in a Petri dish and a small
magnetic cube.
 We poured liquid nitrogen onto the superconducting disk (and into the dish) to lower it
below its critical temperature, making it superconductive.
 When we used insulated plastic tongs to place the magnet just above the disk, the magnet
floated. Nudging it with the tongs caused it to rotate.
o Eventually, the magnet fell as the disk warmed up and lost its superconductivity.
 In our second trial, we left the magnet on the disk before pouring liquid nitrogen. As the disk
cooled, the magnet suddenly floated upwards off the disk.
 This showed that the Meissner effect is due to the exclusion of magnetic fields from
superconductors, rather than the formation of perfect eddy currents due to changes in flux
 Because for eddy currents to form there must be an initial change in flux to create them. In
the experiment the magnet rose upwards by itself.
o In fact, the movement of the magnet upwards would have ordinarily induced eddy
currents that would drag the magnet down.

j) Discuss the advantages of using superconductors and identify limitations to their use
k) Process information to discuss possible application of superconductivity and the effects of
those applications on computers, generators and motors and transmission of electricity
through power grids.
 Superconductivity will hugely benefit human beings and society: both increasing the energy
efficiency of the various operations as well as providing us with applications that are
otherwise not possible.
 As a result there are many advantages of using superconductors.
 Energy is lost as heat when a current flows through a conductor, this heat loss is quantified
by the formula P = I2R.
o As superconductors have zero resistance, there is no heat loss when current is
passing through, and as a result superconductors are an extremely efficient
conductor of electricity.
 Superconductors are used to generate powerful electromagnets. The strength of an
electromagnet is proportional to the input current. However due to heat loss, a significant
amount of the energy from the current is lost and as a consequence only a limited amount
of energy goes into the strength of the magnetic field.
o Following on from above, the use of superconductor results in zero energy loss to
heat. As a result the use of superconductors in electromagnets means that all of the
energy from the input current goes into the strength of the magnetic field, and thus
extremely powerful and efficient electromagnets are possible.
 Another advantage of superconductors is that a phenomenon called perpetuating current
takes place. Once current flow is established within the superconductor, this flow of current
will not diminish for a long period of time, even after the power source is removed, this is
due to the fact that there is zero electrical resistance.

 Despite many scientists believing that superconductors are the way of the future, there are
still a number of limitations to their use.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 One of the major problems with the use of superconductors is the very low temperatures
required for the superconductor to display superconductivity.
o Maintaining such low temperatures for the operation of superconductors, is very
impractical, expensive and energy inefficient.
o This has pushed the drive for the development of High Temperature
Superconductors (HTS). However the highest critical temperature recorded for a HTS
is 134K, which still is very low. With further research in this field, may yield more
viable options.
o These HTS are different from the regular superconductors, in the sense that they are
o The use of ceramics as superconductors come with their own problems:
 Ceramics are brittle and will break easily on impact with a load.
 Ceramics are often difficult to manufacture, but more specifically are very
difficult to form into wires for cabling.
 Some ceramics are susceptible to chemical instability.
 Another problem with superconductors is that they have a maximum current (critical
current) they can carry.
o Once the superconductor is carrying current past the critical current, the
superconductor, become a normal conductor.
 Due to the Meissner effect, and the various external magnetic fields on earth,
superconductors emit strong magnetic fields. This can pose neurological problems.

Power Generation, Transmission & Storage:

 If electromagnets were made from superconducting materials, then the presence of an iron
core for electricity generation would not be required, thus reducing the size and mass of
present generators.
 Further there would be no power loss to heat in the generator, due to the zero electrical
resistance of the superconductor.
 Similarly in motors, the low resistance to flow of electricity means that net current will be
bigger and hence the motor can be made more powerful, whilst becoming smaller.
o As a result, less fossil fuel would be required to produce the same amount of energy
 Electrical transmission lines lose a significant amount of energy due to the resistance of
wires. Through the use of superconductors in transmission lines, current could be delivered
in large amounts on smaller and thinner wires.
 This would result in an extremely efficient electricity grid, which would significantly reduce
the cost of electricity, make the production and use of electricity environmentally friendly
and reduce the need to develop more infrastructures to house the current system.
 Through the use of superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) systems, energy can be
easily stored. This storage device uses a large ring structure constructed using a HTS.
Electrical energy can be channeled into the ring, where current would flow indefinitely
through the SMES, without any power loss. This current could then be tapped out when

 The disadvantage with the use of superconductors for our electricity grid is that for the
superconducting material to work efficiently, it must operate on DC current. This is because
AC will cause disturbance to the cooper pairs and as a result there will be some energy
 Further to make superconducting wires from ceramics is very difficult because ceramics
conventionally are not ductile, but brittle and as a result break very easily.

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Module 3 – Ideas to Implementation
 Further it is also very inefficient and costly to maintain very low temperature for the

 There is enormous scope for the use of superconductors in electronics.
 The limitation of many chips and microprocessors made from semiconductors is that they
produce heat due to the small resistance of the material.
o The fact that superconductors have zero resistance means that no heat is produced.
This means that components on a chip can be integrated closer together and as a
result can no become far more powerful.
o Further the transmission time for electrical signals is also reduced, because of the
zero resistance to current.
o These more powerful chips and processors lead to supercomputers, which can carry
out far more complex operations at a much faster speed than normal computers.
o However the disadvantage of such a system is that a coolant is required (liquid
nitrogen). This makes the maintenance of the supercomputer very difficult and thus
it is not feasible for personal use.
 When two superconducting materials are separated by a very thin layer of insulator current
flows as Cooper pairs (electrons) across the barrier. – Josephson effect
o This is called a Josephson junction and it acts as a superfast switch.
o A superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) is an extremely sensitive
device that relies on the Josephson Effect to detect tiny magnetic fields.
o SQUIDs are typically used in geophysics to measure oscillations in the Earth’s
magnetic field.
o They can also make magneto gram of the human as they can measure the magnetic
fields produces by the tiny current flowing in the brain.

Medical Diagnostics:

 Superconductors have an ideal application in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.

Typical MRI machines require it to be large enough to produce a magnetic field strength of 4
o Conventional electromagnets require hundreds of kilowatts of power to produce the
required magnetic field that is including the loss of energy due to heat.
o Using superconductors in this situation is ideal, because superconductors are able to
produce the required magnetic field easily, as there are no resistive power losses.
o Further once enough current is used to produce the required magnetic field, the
power source can be removed, and then the current in the superconductor becomes
a perpetuating current that will circulate around the solenoid, without any power
o SQUIDs are also used for medical diagnosis as mentioned above.

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l) Gather and process information to describe how superconductors and the effects of
magnetic fields have been applied to develop a maglev train

 One of the major proposed applications of superconductivity is in the superconducting

magnetically levitated vehicle (Maglev). This is an extremely high-speed transport system
that utilises magnets and linear motor technology. Currently the system is still rare and is
only available in a few select countries
such as China, Germany and Japan.
 To levitate the Maglev trains, magnets are
set up between the train and the track so
that they have the same pole and repel.
The strength of the repulsion is made so
that it counters the weight of the train and
as a result the train ‘hovers’ above the
o Superconductor electromagnets
are placed underneath the train;
whereas normal electromagnets
are placed on the track.
o The use of superconductors arises from the fact, that there will be no resistive
power losses and the magnetic fields produced are much stronger. This makes the
Maglev train very efficient.
 A propulsion system incorporating the use of another set of electromagnets on the track and
the superconductor magnets.
o Power is supplied to the electromagnets on the track, these electromagnets have
alternating polarities.
 Consider the first magnet:
o At the head of the train, the north
poles are attracted by the south poles
and hence the train moves forward.
However once the train has passed
that south pole, the polarity of the
track electromagnets are reversed,
this causes the two electromagnets to
repel and as a result the train becomes
o A magnetic wave is created from the
linear induction motor that extends
with the track. This motor can be
thought of as if the stator has been cut
and then placed flat along the track.
When current is sent through, the
electromagnets propel the train
o As the train speeds, the time it takes
to reach each set of electromagnets

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 As the train is levitated from the ground, there is no contact with the ground and as a result
there is no frictional drag. This means that energy input only goes into propulsion of the
train, thus making it energy efficient.
 No physical contact with the ground results in less wear and tear and thus less mechanical
maintenance is required.

 Superconductors are expensive to run, mainly because they are designed to operate at very
low temperatures, maintaining these low temperatures is very difficult, impractical (with
current technology) and thus very expensive.
 As the train speeds up, it takes less time to reach the next set of magnetic poles, this means
that the frequency at which the polarities reverse increases. This means that the frequency
at which the polarities reverse is what limits the speed of the train.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
Problems with the Rutherford model led to the search for a model that would
better explain the observed phenomena
a) Discuss the structure of the Rutherford model of the atom, the existence of the nucleus and
electron orbits
 In 1801 English teach John Dalton proposed his atomic theory which stated that:
o Matter is composed of small indivisible atoms
o Elements contain only one type of atom; different elements contain different atoms.
o Compounds contain more than one type of atom
 In 1904, British physicist J.J Thomson discovered that cathode rays (electrons) were present
in all matter. His discovery led to the idea of an electron being a subatomic particle; hence
he proposed the ‘Plum Pudding’ model of the atom.
o Thomson proposed that the atom was a
sphere of positive charge in which
embedded thought the sphere were the
negatively charged electrons.
o New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford
further studied the structure of the
atom, by overseeing the gold foil
experiment undertaken by his students
Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. The
observations of this experiment were
quite unexpected, and thus it led to
redevelopment of the model of the
 In 1909, Geiger and Marsden, both students of
Rutherford carried out the gold foil experiment,
in which the recently discovered alpha particles were fired at a thin gold foil. Then using a
scintillation counter, the alpha-particles passing through the foil were detected.

 It was observed that:

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
o Most of the alpha-particles passed though the gold foil undeflected or with a very
small deflection.
o About 1 in 8000 alpha particles was deflected through angles greater than 90
 The second observation was so unexpected that it prompted Rutherford to write ‘… it was
almost as incredible as if you fired a fifteen-inch shell at a piece of tissue-papers and it came
back and hit you.’
 Two years after the publication of Geiger and Marsden’s results on the gold foil experiment,
Rutherford explained these results by proposing a nuclear atom.
o Rutherford proposed that the bulk of the atom is empty space.
 This explains how alpha particles pass through undeflected.
o All of the atom’s positive charge and most of its mass is concentrated into a region
about 10000 times smaller than the radius of the atom. This small, dense positive
region is called the nucleus.
 This explained how some alpha-particles that came near this region were
deflected, but if the alpha particle collided with the atom head on, it would
be reflected of the atom.
o In this new redefined model of the atom, the electrons could not remain stationary
within the atom, due to the electrostatic force between the positive charge and
negative (electrons) and
this proposed that the
went in circular orbits
around the nucleus.
 After the proposal of Rutherford’s
model, several inadequacies were
found in the model, to explain
certain things.
o This model did not explain
what the nucleus was
made up of.
o What keeps the electrons from being attracted to the positive nucleus
o How the electrons are arrange around the nucleus.
 If the electrons did undergo circular motion around the nucleus, it meant that they were
accelerating. However accelerating charges are known to emit electromagnetic radiation, as
a result the electrons should lose energy and eventually spiral into the nucleus. However as
this did not happen, the model could not explain this phenomena.

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b) Discuss Planck’s contribution to the concept of quantised energy
 Quantum theory began in 1900 with Max Planck’s hypothesis on the explanation for the
black body curve.
o A black body is a perfect emitter and absorber of energy (radiation).
 Experimental data showed that the intensity of the emitted radiation reached a maximum
point with decreasing wavelengths, but then had a sharp decrease for the lower
o Classical physics could not explain this experimental data, as classical theory predicts
that the intensity of the EMR would continuously rise as wavelength decreased.
 Thus Planck proposed that energy is not emitted or absorbed continuously, but rather in
packets of energy or quanta. (Mathematically: E = hf)
 This new radical idea was not welcomed by many scientists of the time; however, it was the
only explanation that could match the experimental data of black body curves.

c) Analyse the significance of the hydrogen spectrum in the development of Bohr’s model of
the atom
 Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, also a student of Rutherford, predicted that a hydrogen atom
would only contain one electron outside the positively charged nucleus.
 He applied the new quantum ideas of Planck to the model of the hydrogen atom, developing
a new model of the atom that was slightly different to Rutherford model, in the sense that:
o Electrons were assigned positions in the atom
o Electron energy levels were quantised.
 This idea was radical, that electrons had energy states and could absorb and emit energy to
change states; however there was no evidence to support this model. Studies conducted on
the emission spectra, in particular to hydrogen’s spectra, gave Bohr the necessary evidence
to prove his model, but further allowed him to develop several postulates in regards to the
structure of an atom.
 When white light is passed through a triangular prism, the light is broken up into its
constituent colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
o There is a continuous spread of colours and hence wavelengths, such a spectrum
is called a continuous spectrum.
 Spectra can be emission or absorption spectra.
 An emission spectrum is a series of
brightly coloured lines on a dark
background that is produced when light
emitted from an excited gas is viewed
through a spectroscope.
o Each element has its own
characteristic spectrum and
this can be used to identify
the gas.

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 An absorption spectrum is a series of dark line on a coloured background that is produced
when white light is passed through a cool gas and viewed through a spectroscope.
o The atoms in the gas will absorb energy from a specific frequency of light. This
absorbed energy will then be re-emitted in random directions.
o Thus the original white light when analysed through a spectroscope, will have
missing wavelengths. These missing wavelengths are the wavelengths absorbed
by the gas.
 The spectrum of a gas to be extensively studied was that of the lightest gas, hydrogen.
o In the visible and near ultraviolet ranges the emission spectrum of hydrogen
consists of a series of lines
corresponding to specific
 In 1885, Swiss schoolteacher John Balmer
studied the UV-Visible range of the
hydrogen emission spectra and derived
and empirical formula that would enable
him to calculate the wavelengths of the
spectral lines.
o These wavelengths came to
form a series known as the
Balmer Series.

( )

 The more modern form of this equation is rearranged to accommodate the other series
lines, this was done by Rydberg.

( ) Where can take all positive integer values and

 Bohr knew that any successful model of the atom had to be able to explain the hydrogen
spectra. After being introduced to Balmer’s equation, Bohr realised how quantum theory
could be used to develop the model of the atom, this led to Bohr proposing his postulates.

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d) Perform a first-hand investigation to observe the visible components of the hydrogen
 In our experiment, we had a discharge tube (vacuum tube with a cathode and anode,
powered by a high-voltage induction coil) with low-pressure hydrogen inside it.
 When high-voltage current was passed through the tube, the hydrogen fluoresced;
emitting light that was visible in our darkened room.
 We observed the visible components of the spectrum with handheld spectrometers that
used a diffraction grating to split the light.
 Using the spectrometer, we could clearly observe the red and blue/violet hydrogen
emission lines, although the violet lines were very hard to observe. The red line was very
clear and intense compared to the other observed lines.

e) Define Bohr’s postulates

f) Describe how Bohr’s postulates led to the development of a mathematical model to
account for the existence of the hydrogen spectrum:

( )

g) Process and present information to illustrate Bohr’s explanation of the Balmer series.

 In 1913 Bohr proposed three postulates to account for the discrepancies between
Rutherford’s model of the atom and the available experimental evidence (hydrogen
emission spectra).
1. Electrons can move in stable circular orbits around the nucleus in fixed energy states,
called stationary states, and in these states the electrons do not emit EMR.
2. An electron can move between two stationary states by either emitting or absorbing
quantised energy (a photon).
3. An electron in a stationary state has an angular momentum that is quantised. The
angular momentum is an integral multiple of . i.e. .
a. The value of n for each stationary state of the Bohr atom is called the principal
quantum number of that stationary state.

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 The first postulate accounts for the observed stability of atoms. Bohr did not know why
the stationary states existed; he simply assumed that they must because of the observed
stability of matter.
 The second postulate explains how atoms emit and absorb specific frequencies of
electromagnetic radiation.
o An electron in its lowest energy state (called the ground state) can only jump to a
higher energy state within the atom when it is given exactly the right amount of
energy to do so by absorbing that energy from a photon of EM radiation of the right
o Once the electron has jumped to the higher level, it will remain there only
briefly. As it returns to its original lower energy level, it emits the energy that it
originally absorbed in the form of a photon of EM radiation.
o The frequency of the energy emitted will have a particular value and will therefore
be measured as a single emission line of particular frequency and therefore of
particular colour if in the visible region of the EM spectrum
 The third postulate was necessary to explain the observed atomic emission spectra of
hydrogen. Only the separation of allowed orbits according to the third postulate gave
the experimentally observed spectra.
 Using Rutherford’s energy of the electron and his postulates, Bohr was able to calculate:
o the velocity of an electron in a particular stationary state
o the energy of an electron in a particular stationary state
o the energy difference between any two stationary states
o the ionisation energy of hydrogen
o the radii of the various stationary states
o the Rydberg constant
o The Rydberg equation for the
wavelengths of hydrogen emission
spectral lines.
 By successfully deriving the Rydberg
equation from his basic postulates, Bohr had
developed a mathematical model of the
atom that successfully explained the
observed emission spectrum of hydrogen
and provided a physical basis for the
accuracy of the Rydberg equation.
 We are now able to calculate the
wavelengths of the many spectral lines of the
hydrogen atom. The original series of
spectral lines was known as the Balmer
series and contained the four spectral lines in
the visible region of the spectrum. These
lines correspond to electron jumps to the second lowest energy state, or first excited
state, (n = 2) of the hydrogen atom.
 When an atom of hydrogen is excited, by an incoming photon, the electron can absorb
sufficient energy to ‘jump’ to a higher energy level. As the electron is unstable it will
almost immediately fall back to its original energy level, emitting a photon of energy.

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o The energy is quantised by the
relationship .
o It follows that since there are only
certain energy levels permissible,
only certain frequencies are
possible, these corresponds to
certain wavelengths (colours) on
the emission spectra.
 As you move towards the n-th orbital,
the difference in energy between
successive orbitals decreases and also
the distance between each orbital

h) Discuss the limitations of the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom

i) Analyse secondary information to identify difficulties with the Rutherford-Bohr model,
including its inability to completely explain:
a. The spectra of larger atoms
b. The relative intensity of spectral lines
c. The existences of hyperfine spectral lines
d. The Zeeman effect

In reality Bohr’s model was a huge breakthrough in our understanding of the atom. For his great
contribution to atomic theory Bohr was awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physics. As with any
scientific model, however, there were limitations. The problems with the Bohr model can be
summarised as follows:

 Bohr used both classical and quantum physics together at the same time. His assumption
that some of classical physics worked while other did not, this was contrary to the principles
of physics
 It only works for atoms containing single electron, e.g. He + and Li2+. For all other atoms and
ions the electrons interact with each other producing different energy levels. This affected
Bohr’s model such that it could not explain the spectra of atoms with multiple electrons.
 Examination of spectra shows that the spectral lines are not of equal intensity but the Bohr
model does not explain why some electron transitions would be favoured over others.
 Careful observations with better instruments showed that there were other lines known as
the hyperfine lines. There must be some splitting of the energy levels of the Bohr atom but
the Bohr model cannot account for this.
 When a gas is excited while in a magnetic field, the emission spectrum produced shows a
splitting of the spectral lines (called the Zeeman Effect). Again, the Bohr model cannot
account for this.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
The limitations of classical physics gave birth to quantum physics
a) Define diffraction and identify that interference occurs between waves that have been
 Diffraction is the bending of waves around obstructions. It is solely a wave property, and is
observed when the passage of a wave is obstructed by an object.
 The wave can bend around the object and exist where there should be a shadow from the
object- this effect is strongest when the size of the object is of the same order as the
wavelength of the wave.
o The corner of the object acts as a point source for the wave, resulting in a curved
wave that radiates outward.
o There are now two waves- the point source and the main wave, and because they
exist in the same location interference occurs between the two waves.
o This means that the process of diffraction results in an interference pattern.
o This is because at some points the waves interfere destructively and at others they
interfere constructively.
 This results in lines of light and dark, or light and dark rings if it is a circular obstruction.

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b) Describe the impact of de Broglie’s proposal that any kind of particle has both wave and
particle properties
 In 1924, Louis de Broglie, a French physicist, suggested that the wave-particle dualism that
applies to EM radiation also applies to particles
of matter. He proposed that every kind of
particle has both wave and particle properties.
o Hence, electrons can be thought of as
either particles or waves.
 De Broglie suggested like photons of EMR have a
momentum associated with their wavelength,
then particles of matter should have a
wavelength associated with their momentum.
 The impact of de Broglie’s proposal was far
reaching. Its immediate impact was to provide a
physical interpretation of the Bohr quantisation
of stationary states within an atom.
 Its ongoing impact was to provide a new way of
describing the nature of matter, which assisted
greatly in the development of quantum
o In quantum mechanics, particles have
both a wave and a particle nature.

c) Describe the confirmation of de Broglie’s proposal by Davisson and Germer

 In 1927, Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer studied the surface of a piece of nickel by
examining the scattering of electrons from it.
o The nickel surface consisted of many microscopic crystal bounded together at
random orientations. This meant that even the smoothest possible surface would
still appear rough to the electrons.
o During the experiment, the vacuum tube broke and air entered the tube. As a result
an oxide layer
formed on the
nickel’s surface.
To remove this
oxide layer,
Davisson and

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decided to heat the metal to a temperature just below its melting point.
 As a result of the heating, the nickel had become annealed, resulting in the
formation of larger crystals, larger than the width of the fired electron
o When the beam was fired, they observed that the
electrons were producing an interference pattern
as a result of diffraction. However from a previous
understanding of X-ray diffraction, they knew that
diffraction was a property that only waves display.
 Thus they had concluded that, the electrons had a wave
nature as well a particle nature, quantifying de Broglie’s
hypothesis on the wave-particle duality of matter.

d) Explain the stability of the electron orbits in the Bohr atom using de Broglie’s hypothesis
 Bohr’s first postulate was that electron could
exist in stable circular orbitals around the
nucleus (stationary states) without emitting any
o However Bohr could not explain this
 De Broglie’s matter wave hypothesis made it
possible to explain this postulate. De Broglie said
that if an integral number of electron
wavelengths were fitted into the circumference
of the orbit, then standing waves would be
produced and no energy would be lost.
o In a standing wave, energy is continually
transferred between kinetic energy and
potential energy, but energy is
 Through several calculations, de Broglie arrived
upon Bohr’s third postulate. This is Bohr’s
quantisation condition that angular momentum must be an integral multiple of h/2π.
 Thus de Broglie’s proposal that particles have a wave and particle nature explained the
Bohr’s postulates on quantised electron orbits.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
e) Gather, process, analyse and present information and use available evidence to assess the
contributions made by Heisenberg and Pauli to the development of atomic theory.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle:

 Heisenberg firstly devised matrix mechanics to explain the atom in terms of quantum
probabilities, rather than mixing classical and quantum theory as Bohr had done. This led to
an entirely quantum theory of the atom, helping to mathematically understand its nature.
 The uncertainty principle states that product of the uncertainty in measuring the position
and momentum of an object has to be greater than or equal to a constant, h/4π.
o In atom it is not possible to determine with the same degree of certainty the
location and momentum of an electron.
o This is mathematically given by:
 This effectively says that for a particle such as an electron, the more precisely the position is
determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in the instant and vice versa.
 This changed the way science viewed atomic structure, and is perhaps one of the most
important central principles of quantum mechanics, that knowledge of one thing can be
mutually exclusive to knowledge of another.
 This isn’t just due to measurements changing quantities- it’s a fundamental property of
quantum mechanics. Heisenberg’s work greatly changed the way in which scientists
approached quantum physics.

Pauli’s Exclusion Principle:

 The exclusion principle states that no two electrons in the same atom can possess all four
quantum numbers.

1. The principal quantum number (n)

 This quantum number is related to the principal energy shells that Bohr proposed.

2. The orbital quantum number (l)

 This quantum number is related to the angular momentum and therefore to the orbital
shape of the electrons.
 They are also known as the sub-shells in chemistry.
 The slight difference in energy explains the existence of hyperfine spectral lines.
o Slight differences in energy result in slight differences in frequency, which constitute
the hyperfine lines.

3. The magnetic quantum number (ml)

 This is the quantum number assigned to the magnetic orientation (moment) of the electron
orbiting in the magnetic field.
 The magnetic quantum number can also be used to explain the Zeeman Effect.

4. The magnetic spin quantum number (ms)

 This quantum number is assigned to the spin of electrons about their own axis. Each
electron can spin in two different ways, which are known as positive a half spin (+ ½) and
negative a half spin (−½).

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 In summary, Pauli’s exclusion principle provides a very solid theoretical background for why
electrons have to be configured in the way they are in atoms. The principle also explains the
regularity of the periodic table and the reason for atoms’ position in the periodic table.
 Pauli’s exclusion principle can be seen as a further advancement to Bohr’s model in how to
place electrons around the nucleus. Most electrons’ behaviours can potentially be explained
by using the quantum numbers and the exclusion principle.
 Consequently, Pauli’s model can be seen as more comprehensive and complete compared to
the earlier theories

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
The work of Chadwick and Fermi in producing artificial transmutations led to
practical applications of nuclear physics
a) Define the components of the nucleus (protons and neutrons) as nucleons and contrast
their properties
 The components of the nucleus are named nucleons in which there are two types of
nucleons: the proton and the neutron.
 Neutrons are similar in mass to protons but are approximately 1.15 times heavier.
 Neutrons also have no charge so they do not interact with each other and other charged
objects (like magnetic or electric fields) unlike protons that will repel each other due to their
positive charge.
Property Proton Neutron
Mass 1.673 x 10⁻²⁷ kg 1.675 x 10⁻²⁷ kg
Charge 1.602 x 10⁻¹⁹ C 0C

b) Discuss the importance of conservation laws to Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron

 In 1920, Rutherford proposed that a neutral particle with similar mass to the proton, which
he termed the neutron, might exist in the nucleus.
 Its neutral charge would not affect the nucleus’ charge and the extra mass would account
for the measured mass of the nucleus.
 In 1930, Bothe and Becker (in Germany) fired alpha particles at beryllium and found that a
highly penetrating radiation was produced. The radiation seemed to be similar to gamma
rays (high-energy photons) but it was much more highly penetrating than the gamma rays
previously observed.
 In France, the Curies, studied this mysterious radiation and let it fall on a block of paraffin.
o They found that the radiation knocked protons (hydrogen nuclei) from the paraffin
o If gamma rays had been responsible, their very high penetrating power would have
resulted in fewer interactions with protons.
o The high energy of the protons (5 MeV) was a problem because applying the
conservation of energy and conservation of momentum to the collision between a
gamma ray and a proton yielded a value for the incident gamma ray of at least 50
o This was a major dilemma because the energy of the incident alpha particles was
only about 5 MeV. In other words, if this was the correct interpretation, there had to
have been a tenfold increase in energy in the interaction, violating the conservation

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
 In 1932 James Chadwick suggested that this radiation consisted of Rutherford’s neutrons.
 In that time Chadwick applied conservation of energy and conservation of momentum to the
interaction of a neutral particle with a proton.
o Chadwick set up a pair of simultaneous equations using the known masses and
speeds of the alpha particles and then ejected protons.
 Chadwick made measurements of the recoil of nuclei of hydrogen and nitrogen after
interactions with his proposed neutron. The measurements were difficult but led to the
mass of a neutron being calculated to be 1.15 times that of a proton.
 Thus Chadwick was able to prove the existence of the neutron, validating Rutherford’s
theory on the existence of the neutron, but his work relied on the laws of conservation
holding true for quantum physics.

c) Define the term transmutation

d) Describe nuclear transmutations due to natural radioactivity
 Transmutation occurs when one element changes into another element. Natural
transmutations occur in radioactive decay such as alpha and beta decay.
o Radioactivity is the spontaneous breakdown of an unstable element into a new
stable element by the emission of alpha, beta and/or gamma rays.
o This causes the number of protons in the atom’s nucleus to change; hence a new
element is formed.
 Artificial transmutation is where elements are bombarded with other particles (heavier
nuclei, neutrons, alpha particles, etc…) causing the target element to radioactively decay.
 An atom undergoes natural radioactivity if: Its atomic number is greater than or equal to 83
o Its neutron to proton ratio is outside the band
of stability (approximately 1:1 first 20 elements,
1:1.5 for elements greater than 20)
 In all transmutations, the mass number and atomic
number are conserved, i.e. the sum of mass numbers
and the sum of atomic numbers on the left hand side
equals to sum of the mass numbers and the sum of
atomic numbers on the right hand side.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
Alpha, beta and gamma decay:

Radiation Alpha Particles (α) Beta Particles (β) Gamma Radiation

Consist of: Helium nucleus 1 electron High frequency radiation – energy
( ) (photons)
Charge 2+ -1 No charge
Mass 4 amu 0.00055 amu No mass
Ionising ability Good Fair Poor
Penetration Poor (sheet of Fair (few cm of Very good(several cm of lead sheets,
paper) aluminium) few m of concrete)
Deflection in Towards negative Towards positive No deflection
electric fields plate plate
Transmutation type α decay β decay
When does the Atomic number greater than 83 When the neutron to proton ration
transmutation occur is to high  lies above zone of
Change to mass number Mass number decreases by four Mass number doesn’t change
Change to atomic number Atomic number decreases by Atomic number increases by one;
two 1n changes into 1p and 1e and an
antineutrino ̅ . The p remains and
the e and ̅ are emitted.
General Equation

NOTE: Gamma ray emission never occurs itself; it accompanies alpha and beta decay reactions.
Gamma rays are the excess energy that is released during a nuclear reaction.

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e) Discuss Pauli’s suggestion of the existence of the neutrino and relate it to the need to
account for the energy distribution of electrons emitted in β- decay
 When radioisotopes undergo alpha decay, the ejected alpha particles either have energy
that is identical or varying in a predictable way. However, when beta decay occurs, the
energy of the ejected electrons exhibits a wide range.
o This was shown by passing the emitted beta decay particles through magnetic field,
where it was found that there was a continuous range of radii suggesting that the
particles had been emitted with different energies.
o This meant that some of the beta particles contained less kinetic energy and the
momentum contained before and after were not equal, leading to the violation of
the law of conservation of energy and momentum.
 An obvious question is that if a beta particle can achieve a certain maximum energy, then
what accounts for the missing energy for those beta particles with a sub-maximal energy
 Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli solved this by proposing that there was another small
particle that was co-emitted during beta decay that would carry away the missing energy.
o This particle was later termed the neutrino (and then later again, rediscovered to be
an antineutrino).
 The proposed neutrino was hypothesised to be electrically neutral and have very little (or
no) rest mass.
o However, it carried energy and momentum and travelled at the speed of light.
o The neutrino also has an intrinsic spin to satisfy conservation of angular momentum
 The neutrino carried away a variable fraction of energy during beta decay so that the total
energy of the decay is always conserved
o If the beta particle carries more energy, then the neutrino carries less and vice versa.
 Remember that an anti-neutrino is associated with the emission of the electron (β−),
whereas a neutrino is associated with the release of the anti-electron (positron) (β+).

Transmutation Beta plus decay (positron Electron Capture

When does the When an isotope is below the When an isotope is below the zone
transmutation occur zone of stability, it is deficient in of stability, it is deficient in
neutrons. Thus it undergoes neutrons. Thus it undergoes
transmutation by positron transmutation by electron capture

Change to mass number Mass number doesn’t change Mass number doesn’t change
Change to atomic number Atomic number decreases by Atomic number also decreases by
one; 1n changes into 1p and 1e one; A proton captures one of the
and a neutrino . The p orbiting electrons in the nucleus to
form a neutron and a neutrino.
remains and the e and are

General Equation

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
f) Evaluate the relative contributions of electrostatic and gravitational forces between
g) Account for the need for the strong nuclear force and describe its properties

 The nucleus contains protons and neutrons. Protons are positively charged particles,
therefore when they are placed next to each other; they both exert a gravitational force and
an electrostatic force on each other.
o We are able to calculate the magnitude of both of these forces using
and .
 We will find that the gravitational attraction between two protons is substantially less than
the electrostatic repulsion between the same two protons.

 Though the electrostatic force of repulsion is greater, and it is expected that the protons will
repel each other, the nucleus is observed to be stable, and there must be another force
present to account for this stability.
 Experiments have shown that an extremely powerful but short range force acts equally
between the following nucleon combinations:
o Proton-neutron
o Proton-proton
o Neutron – neutron
o This force present, is called a strong nuclear force
 The presence of this strong nuclear force is what allows to protons to remain within a close
proximity, overcoming the electrostatic force of repulsion.

The best way to illustrate the size and profile of this force is by using a graph

 The strong nuclear force is a very powerful force and acts independently of charge (between
nucleons); however it only acts over a very short distance.
 As you can see, the strong nuclear force is at its greatest strength, about 104 N, when it is
acting over a distance of approximately 1.3 × 10-15 m, which is the average distance of
separation between the nucleons.
 This force is very adequate in holding the nucleons together. However, the size of the force
declines very quickly and reaches almost zero when acting at a distance of 2 × 10-15 m.
 Also, note that at a distance less than 5 × 10-16 m, the force becomes repulsive.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
 This is also significant as the repulsiveness of the force prevents the nucleons getting too
close or fused together.
o The strong nuclear force is such that it tries to hold the nucleons apart at an
approximately constant distance of 1.3 × 10-15 m.

h) Explain the concept of a mass defect using Einstein’s equivalence between mass and
 The mass of a nucleus is always smaller than the combined mass of the protons and
neutrons. The difference between the mass of a nucleus and the total mass of its constituent
nucleons is called the mass defect.
o This is because some of the mass is converted into binding energy when all the
constituents come together to form the nucleus.
o The binding energy of a nucleus is the energy equivalent of the mass defect of the
 We are able to calculate the binding energy and mass defect using Einstein’s mass energy
equivalence (E=mc2).
 The stability of a nucleus is indicated by the average binding energy per nucleon.
o A higher binding energy per nucleon means an atom or a nucleus is more stable as
more energy is required to break the bonds.
o The binding energy per nucleon increases until Iron-56 in which it peaks.

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i) Describe Fermi’s initial experiment observation of nuclear fission
 After the discovery of the neutron, Enrico Fermi and several of his co-workers worked in
the field of neutron physics, where they bombarded as many of the known elements
with neutrons.
o In most cases new isotopes were formed, occasionally this isotope went under
beta decay.
 When Fermi bombarded uranium with neutrons, he expected an isotope to form that
would beta decay to form the first transuranic element.
 Fermi had discovered that slow neutrons were much better at irradiation than fast
neutrons. Neutrons did not need to have a large energy to closely approach a nucleus
because there was no electrostatic repulsion of the neutron.
 Neutrons travelling at low speeds spent more time in the vicinity of the nucleus and
hence had a better chance of being captured.
o This is associated with the de Broglie wavelength of the neutrons. The slower
neutrons have a much longer wavelength that associates with the uranium
nucleus and hence have a much greater possibility of capture by a nucleus.
 The result was that at least four different products which emitted beta radiation with
different measurable half-lives were formed, rather than one element with a higher
atomic number. Fermi could not find reasoning for his observation and therefore failed
to discover nuclear fission with his experiment with uranium
o The experiment was revised by Hahn and Straussman who discovered that aside
from detecting the nucleus of uranium-239, a range of other elements was
produced. This they believed must have been a product of the splitting of the
uranium isotope.

j) Describe Fermi’s demonstration of a controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942

 Fermi created the first man-made nuclear reactor (or atomic pile) in 1942 as part of a demonstration
of the viability if nuclear reactions as an energy source.
o The aim as to see if it was possible to obtain a neutron multiplication factor greater than one.
o This would mean that a chain reaction could occur.
 Fermi’s atomic pile contained:
o 50 tonnes of natural uranium in the form of 22 000 slugs.
o 400 tonnes of graphite which had been machined into 40 000 graphite bricks. Graphite was
used as the moderator because it was the only material that was available in sufficient
quantity and of the required degree of purity, at that time.
o The moderator sows down the neutrons, increasing the likelihood of their interaction with
the surrounding uranium.
o Cadmium rods were used as control rods and spread regularly within the pile to regulate the
rate of reaction.
o Withdrawing the rods would increase neutron activity in the pile to lead to a self-sustaining
chain reaction. Re-inserting the rods would dampen the reaction.
 The test of the pile occurred on December 2 1942.
 By slowly withdrawing the cadmium rods, Fermi showed that the pile started to heat up; the nuclear
fission has begun, heralding the beginning of the nuclear age.

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j) Compare requirements for controlled and uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions

Controlled Nuclear Chain Reaction Uncontrolled Nuclear Chain Reaction

 Requires a fuel that is capable of fission  Requires a fuel that is capable of fission
(fissile material). (super fissile material).
 Requires a moderator.  Requires a moderator.
 The amount of fissile material is at critical  The amount of fissile material is at
mass (minimum amount of fuel required to supercritical mass.
sustain a chain reaction).  Energy is released rapidly over a short period
 Steady amount of energy released and of time.
sustained.  Number of neutrons able to cause fission is
 Number of neutrons able to cause fission is unregulated.
regulated (generally only one).  The rate of the chain reaction is increasing.
 Requires control mechanisms (control rods).  No control mechanisms.

k) Perform a first-hand investigation or gather secondary information to observe radiation

emitted from a nucleus using a Wilson Cloud Chamber or similar detection device.
 The Wilson Cloud Chamber consists of an ethanol rag and cooling baseplate.
 The cooling baseplate on the bottom of the chamber creates a temperature gradient in the
chamber and thus the ethanol condenses to form supersaturated ethanol vapour.
 When radiation passes through the chamber, vapour particles are ionised.
 Because ethanol is polar, it will surround the ionised particles and condense, producing a
visible droplet.
 These droplets will form a track tracing a path in which the radiation passed through.
 Alpha particles are highly ionising but have a large mass and so are not easily deflected
meaning that its tracks will be short and thick.
 Beta particles are less ionising and are easily deflected due to its low mass meaning that its
tracks are fainter
than alphas and are
zig zag shaped.
 Gamma rays have
the lowest ionising
ability and have no
mass meaning they
will form long faint

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
An understanding of the nucleus has led to large science projects and many
a) Explain the basic principles of a fission reactor
 A nuclear fission reactor is an application of controlled fission, where the thermal energy
released by the reaction is absorbed by a coolant which is in direct contact with the fuel.
 This coolant could be something such as heavy water (if it is also the moderator) under very
high pressure, or even helium gas.
o This coolant is used to vaporise water (possibly in an external heat exchanger) which
turns a turbine connected to a generator to produce electricity.
o The secondary coolant (the water) is then condensed and reused.

Reactor Core

 Where the fission reaction takes place

 Fuel rods consisting of enriched uranium which contains a higher percentage of fissionable
Uranium 235 are embedded in a moderator.
o A critical mass of the fissile material is required to sustain a chain reaction.
 The fuel is fissionable with slow neutrons but not as readily with fast neutrons.
 Moderator is used to slow down neutrons without undergoing fission themselves.
 Consists of either:
o Ordinary water
o Heavy water (deuterium oxide)
o Graphite (used by Fermi)
o Beryllium
 Control rods are also embedded in the moderator. The control rods absorb neutrons in the
reactor core and can be moved freely to control the rate of reaction.
 When there are lots of rods in the reactor, the rate of fission will be very low. If there only a
few rods in the reactor, the rate of fission will be very high.
 Rods are usually made of cadmium or boron which readily capture neutrons
 The reactor is surrounded by multiple layers of shielding to protect the walls of the reactor
from damage, reflect neutrons back into the reactor core and prevent radiation from
escaping the core.
o Graphite shield – reflects neutrons back into the core
o Thermal shield – prevents unwanted heat loss
o Biological shield – several metres of concrete mixed with lead pellets absorb
gamma rays and neutrons and protect the external environment from

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
Heat Exchanger/Primary Coolant

 Heated coolant circulates out of the reactor core and heats water to make steam that is
used to operate the generator and produce electricity
 The primary coolant is circulated back into the reactor core to carry more energy, repeating
the cycle
 The primary coolant does not mix with the steam, forming a closed loop and preventing the
transfer of nuclear waste out of the reactor core into the environment.

Generator/Secondary Coolant

 Steam is used to turn the turbine of the generator

 After the steam is used it is condensed to warm water using a secondary coolant before
being recirculated to the heat exchanger to produce more steam.
 Secondary coolant generally consists of cool water taken from a natural source. After it is
used it is discharged back into the environment

To prevent thermal pollution (caused by discharging warm or hot water into a local waterway
causing a rise in temperature in water and a reduction in amount of dissolved oxygen – impairing the
reproductive cycle of aquatic organisms) a cooling pond may be used to lower the water’s

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
b) Describe some medical and industrial applications of radio-isotopes
c) Identify data sources, and gather, process, and analyse information to describe the use of:
a named isotope in medicine, a named isotope in agriculture and a named isotope in


 It is used in radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer:
 The beta decay of cobalt-60 to nickel-60 releases gamma radiation.
o Cobalt-60 is concentrated onto the cancerous cells in the patient, using machinery.
o The gamma rays emitted destroy the DNA of the cancerous cells, ensuring that the
cells will no longer reproduce.
 Gamma rays can penetrate deep into the tissue where cancerous cells may be.
 The energy is just high enough to kill the cancerous cells.
 Cobalt-60 has a half-life of 5.3 years, so the treatment process can be carried out for a good
length of time.
 Since there is no control over the gamma rays, they can also destroy healthy cells. This in
turn could create cancerous cells.
 Workers have to be protected from radiation exposure.

Industry (Agriculture):

 To irradiate food to extend its shelf life
 Food is placed on a conveyer belt that is then passed through a chamber containing
o The gamma rays that emitted are extremely effective in destroying biological
molecules (harmful bacteria or other microorganisms).
o This kills the harmful microbes in food, making it safer to eat.
 The gamma rays have sufficient radiation to kill harmful bacteria, but not enough to make
the food radioactive.
 Caesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years, so can be used for a long time for this industrial
 Workers who deal with these processes have to be protected from radiation.
 Gamma rays are capable of destroying the nutrients in the food.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
Industry (Engineering):

Cobalt -60

 Co-60 is used as a thickness gauge of materials in the manufacture of sheeting.

 A radioactive source and a detector is arranged to monitor and control the thickness of
materials (often steel sheets).
 The amount of radiation received by the detector depends upon the thickness of the
material passing between them.
o If it becomes too thick or thin, the detector senses the change in radiation and can
be used to adjust the machinery to ensure the correct thickness.
 It emits beta radiation which is suitable due to its moderate penetrative ability.
 It also has a very long half-life of 28 years so it does not need to be replaced often.

d) Describe how neutron scattering is used as a probe by referring to the properties of

 Neutron scattering is a powerful method of analysing the internal structure and properties
of matter. A beam of neutrons are fired at a target, where their scatter pattern can be
identified and then used to obtain data that allows scientists to study the structure of
 A neutron is a non-charged particle, with a mass slightly greater than that of a proton.
Neutrons are used as probes because their lack of electric charge allows them to penetrate
the nucleus more easily than a proton or alpha particle.
 A beam of neutrons might be scattered by a nucleus, or other particles may be ejected from
it. This allows scientists to study the structure of the nucleus.
 Neutron has a wave nature, and the de Broglie wavelength of thermal neutrons is
comparable to the space between atoms. This allows interference patterns to be formed as
the lattice acts as a diffraction grating.
 Neutron has a magnetic moment, which allows it to be used to study materials or structures
with magnetic properties.
 Neutrons interact strongly with nuclei of atoms (through a strong nuclear force), which
allows them to be used as a probe to study the structure of nuclei, especially different
isotopes of the same element, in particular the lighter elements.
 Neutron has similar vibrational energies to atoms in solids ad liquids and as such can be
used to study the movement of atoms in molecules.
 Neutrons can be used to study matter non-destructively.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
e) Identify ways by which physicists continue to develop their understanding of matter, using
accelerators as a probe to investigate the structure of matter
 Physicists can develop their understanding of the structure of matter through probing the
nucleus with particle accelerators as well as neutrons.
 Accelerators give high-energy to subatomic particles, which then collide with targets.
 Beams of high-energy particles are useful for both fundamental and applied research in the
 For the most basic inquiries into the dynamics and structure of matter, space and time,
physicists seek the simplest kinds of interactions at the highest possible energies.
 Out of the collisions and interactions come many other subatomic particles that pass into
detectors. From the information gathered in the detectors, physicists can determine
properties of particles and their interactions.
 A particle accelerator uses powerful electromagnets to accelerate electrically charged
particles through huge circular tubes. Other electromagnets steer and focus the beam of
accelerating particles.
 At the desired energy level, the particles are allowed to collide head-on, or smash into the
 An array of detection equipment studies the particle tracks and radiation from the collision.

Linear Accelerators:
 A linear accelerator consists of a series of tubes connected to an oscillator.
 The oscillator is connected in such a way that each tube had the opposite polarity to the
preceding tube.
 Charged particles such as protons, emitted from a source are attracted to the first tube
which is momentarily negative.
 The charge accelerates in the electric field that exists in the gap between the tubes and
hence gains energy.
 The electric field inside the drift tube is zero and so the charge drifts along and does not
accelerate when inside the tube.
 The oscillator’s frequency is arranged so that by the time the charge gets to the end of one
tube, the next tube had changed its polarity.
 The tube it is leaving therefore repels the proton and it is then attracted to the next tube
which, provides additional energy.
 To compensate for the increased velocity of the particles as they move down the line of
tubes, each tube is made progressively longer than the preceding one, ensuring that the
charge gets to the
end just as the
polarity reverses
the tubes.
 Linear accelerators
are used
individually and in
conjunction with
other accelerators.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks

 Cyclotrons are particle accelerators that work by moving the particle in a circle and applying
energy in resonance to boost speeds.
 An ion source is located near the
mid-point of the gap between the D-
shaped magnets called dees.
 The dees are connected to a high
frequency AC source.
o This causes the potential
difference between the dees
to alternate rapidly with the
result that the electric field
in the gap reverses direction
millions of times per second.
 The dees are placed between the
poles of a powerful electromagnet.

 The magnetic field bends the

 Ions from the source enter the
electric field and are accelerated
across it to D2, where it moves in a
circular path due to the magnetic field.
 If when the ion leaves the polarity has switched, it will be accelerated towards D1 and will
increase in speed. Thus, it will move in a circle of increased radius.
 By repeated polarity changes, the ion can be continually accelerated until it reaches the
required speed and energy, and reach the edge of the magnetic field. They are then
deflected to their target.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks

 A synchrotron accelerates charged particles into an orbit at almost the speed of light.
 Particles at high energies, often from a Van de Graaff generator, are injected into a single
circular evacuated tube.
 They pass through the tube under the
influence of a large magnet and are
accelerated at the right time by a high-
frequency supply.
 An increasing magnetic field keeps the
radius of the path of the particles
constant until they reach the required
speed, when they are deflected to the
 The disadvantage of a synchrotron is
that it can accelerate only one packet
of charge particles at a time. These
must be removed before another
package can be started.

f) Gather, process and analyse information to assess the significance of the Manhattan
Project to society
 Fermi’s demonstration of a fission chain reaction triggered a rapid acceleration in the US
army-directed Manhattan Project.
 Physicists realised that unlike Fermi’s reactor, a bomb could not be built with natural
uranium because the fraction of fissionable material in uranium is far too low. Large
factories were built to separate out the fissionable U-235 from the common U-238.
 On August 6 1945, a uranium gum assembly bomb was exploded over the Japanese city of
Hiroshima and three days later a plutonium implosion device was detonated above

Positive Impacts Negative Impacts

 Positive outcomes of the project  It led to the deaths of over 100 000
included an increased understanding of people when it was used at the end of
fission power reactors, and the use of WWII and changed the balance of power
nuclear radiation in medicine and between countries after the war.
industry.  The project also led to the arms race
 Nuclear power stations, currently meet between the superpowers after the war
about 20% of the world’s energy needs and eventually to the possibility of
which reduces the consumption of nuclear conflicts in the post WWII world
irreplaceable fossil fuels and created  Nuclear weapons proliferated during the
more jobs. 40 year Cold War. On several occasions,

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
 Rockets were developed to deliver the the world seemed to be on the brink of a
nuclear weapons, but the ‘spin-off’ was nuclear was which potentially could have
their use for space exploration and destroyed all human civilisation
satellite technology. The modern world  Fission power is Greenhouse friendly,
relies heavily on satellites for but presents the danger of devastating
communication, commerce and finance, accidents such as at Chernobyl (Ukraine)
as well as entertainment. in 1986. There are also great challenges
 Nuclear medicine includes all the ways in the safe storage and disposal of
that nuclear technology is used for radioactive wastes from fission power
diagnosis and treatment of a wide range stations.
of health problems, including cancer.
 Nuclear technologies have been widely
considered as having more risks and
dangers than benefits. However, there
have also been many ‘spin-offs’ which
have been highly beneficial to society.

Despite the direct negative consequences of the Manhattan Project (deaths of millions of Japanese
civilians in the two cities) the use of the atom bomb brought a quick end to what could have been a prolonged
conflict. Overall it has a positive societal outcome where cleaner and cheaper energy is now available
from nuclear plants. Relative to today’s context, we are in a time of disarmament and the project
has had a net positive impact, especially from a medical perspective.

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
g) Discuss the key features and components of the standard model of matter, including
quarks and leptons
 The standard model is a theory that attempts to describe all interactions of subatomic
particles, except those due to gravity.
o The standard model is a mathematical description of all known particles and the
forces between them. It enables us to explain all the behaviour of these particles.
 There are four fundamental forces of interaction, listed in order of magnitude.
o Strong nuclear force – is a short range force, acts on quarks.
o Electromagnetic – acts for an infinite distance, acts on charged particles.’
o Weak nuclear force – is a short range force, acts on quarks and leptons.
o Gravitational – acts for an infinite distance, acts on all masses.
 The four fundamental forces interact with the 12 basic subatomic particles and 12 subatomic
antiparticles because every particle has an antiparticle equivalent in mass but opposite in
charge, to form matter. How they interact determines whether they are classified as leptons
or quarks.

Matter Particles:
 These are the fundamental particles (they have no known smaller components); they are the
quarks and the leptons.
 Twelve fundamental particles make up all known matter
o There are six quarks and six leptons.
 Quarks are considered ‘point-like’ in that they have measurable size and are fundamental
since they have no known components.

o There are six varieties (flavours) of quarks.

Generation Quark (q) Symbol Charge Anti-quark

1st Up u +⅔e Anti-up
2nd Charm c +⅔e Anti-charm
3rd Top t +⅔e Anti-top
1st Down d -⅓e Anti-down
2nd Strange s -⅓e Anti-strange
3rd Bottom b -⅓e Anti-bottom

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
 Quarks do not exist in isolation as they are so strongly bound together. Rather quarks exist
in more stable forms by combining with one or two other quarks.
o This combination of quarks is known as hadrons.
 Hadrons have an integral charge and interact through the strong nuclear force.
 Hadrons are classified in two groups:
o Baryons – combination of 3 quarks
o Mesons – combination of a quark and an anti-quark

BARYONS  Combination of a quark and an anti-quark (opposite charge).
 Combination of 3 quarks.  Example: A pion ( ) is made from up made from an up
 Example: A proton is uud (charge = 2/3 + 2/3 – quark (+2/3) and an anti-down quark (+1/3) giving it an
1/3 = +1). overall charge of −1.
 Example: A neutron is udd (charge = 2/3 – 1/3  Mesons are generally unstable therefore short-lived; this
– 1/3Leptons:
= 0). makes them hard to detect or identify.

 Leptons are particles with little or no mass. The do not experience the strong nuclear forces,
but experience electromagnetic or weak nuclear force.
o They can exist on their own and have half-integer spins
o There are six flavours of leptons

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Option – From Quanta to Quarks
Force-carrier Particles:

 The four fundamental forces are carried by force particles called bosons:
o Gravity – graviton (yet to be discovered): act on all matter
o Electromagnetic force – photon: act on charged particles
o Strong nuclear force – gluon: act on quarks
o Weak nuclear force – weakon: act on quarks and leptons
 The way that force particles are thought to convey attraction forces (between matter) is by
having the matter pulling on the force particles as they are exchanged, whereas repulsion
forces are conveyed by having the force particles being pushed away as they are exchanged.

The concept of the standard model of matter and the existence of quarks, leptons and bosons is an
area of physics that has existed for more than 40 years. We may also consider this model as a further
advancement in our understanding of the atom. Though there are still some limitations to this model
as it cannot explain:
 Why quarks have the masses they do
 Why the top quark is so massive
 How to incorporate gravity

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