Narendran Sairam-Yale April 16th, 2008 Physics Mr.

Sagar Shah The Photoelectric Effect General Information: The photoelectric effect or the Hertz effect is a quantum phenomenon in which electrons are excited and emitted after absorbing electromagnetic radiation or visible light. These electrons are also called photoelectrons. This effect was originally discovered by Albert Einstein in 1905, but he based his proposition on Max Planck's ideas, which said that the energy of a moving particle was quantized or came in whole lumps. If so, he then assumed that the moving photons of light also had quantized energy. So he proposed that each moving photon of light had an energy level of the Planck's constant (h=6.626 x 10-34 )times its frequency. This meant that every time a beam of light with a specific threshold frequency hit a metal surface, it would excite electrons and cause the metal surface to emit them and no matter how intense the light, the amount of electron emitted entirely depends on the frequency of the light. This is because of the Particle nature of light. Since light is made up of particles or photons, if the intensity of the light hitting the surface is increased, it will not change the number of electrons that are emitted because there the energy of the photons depends on the frequency and not the intensity. If the light is more intense then there will be a larger amount of photons hitting the surface of the metal but that will not make any difference because the individual energy of the photons will still remain the same. In 1905 he also published his ideas in a paper called 'On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light.' In 1921 Einstein received a Nobel Price for his work on the photoelectric effect but he did not receive a Noble Price for the Theory of relativity. Testing The Photoelectric Theory: The way to test the photoelectric theory is to use a variable voltage source. When the voltage source is turned off, and there is light incidenting upon the cathode there will be a current flowing through the circuit. If the voltage source is turned on, then the electrons from the voltage source will resist the electrons from the cathode and stop them from getting to the anode unless they have sufficient kinetic energy. If the voltage keeps increasing then the circuit hits a point where there is no flow of electrons because the electrons that are bumped off from the cathode are completely stopped by the electrons from the voltage source and so there is a balance. If there was an ammeter involved in this circuit, it would read zero at this point which is called the stopping point potential of the circuit. Practical Uses Of The Photoelectric Theory: This effect is used in solar panels to convert the light energy into electric energy. The garage door openers have an infrared beam that triggers the door to stop closing if there is something in the way when its closing. Photocells are used in movie films. They are also used in camera flashes.

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