You are on page 1of 6

This cathode ray tube has a quartz window which lets ultraviolet light pass

Observation

No electrons are emitted below

a certain frequency regardless
of how intense the light was.
The minimum frequency that
would cause photoemission is
called the threshold
frequency.

Kinetic energy of the electrons

increases as the frequency of
the incident light increases
(red to blue), however there is
no change in the electron
energy if frequency is constant
and intensity increases.
Increasing intensity only
increases number of electrons,
but not their energy.
There is always immediate
emission of photoelectrons,
even if the light has a low
intensity.

But classical
physics
says
If you wait
long enough,
the required
energy will
build up
and
photoemissio
n should
occur.
Increase in
intensity
should result
in an
increase in
energy of
the
electrons.

that

Electrons
should take
time to build
up enough
energy from
a low
intensity
light source.

Einstein:

Explained that the photoelectric effect was simply a photon-electron

interaction. When one photon of energy E=hf is absorbed by an electron,
the electron is ejected from the metal surface if the frequency is greater
than the threshold frequency.
Electrons in metals are bound to the lattice structure and energy is needed
for them to separate. The energy required is called the work function W.
W = hfthreshold

When a photon is absorbed by an electron, its energy is used to overcome

the work function. Any remaining energy is expressed as kinetic energy.

E = hf = Kmax + W

The minimum amount of energy required for photoemission is when there

is just enough energy to overcome the work function. (Kinetic energy is
equal to zero).

How do we measure Kmax?

1. Reverse the polarity of the cathode ray tube so that the electrons are
repelled by the collector plate.

2. Measure the voltage at which the current drops to zero.

The work done by the field at that voltage is equal to the kinetic energy of the
most energetic electron.
How do we control the kinetic energy of the electrons being emitted?
1. Higher frequency light
2. Stronger electric field
3. Lower threshold frequency of the photocathode.

During his experiments, Hertz put the receiving coil in a glass box (which doesnt
allow UV to enter) and noticed that there was a weaker spark. How does the
photoelectric effect explain this?
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________
Assess Einsteins contribution to quantum theory and its relation to blackbody
radiation. (6)
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________

Classical theory failed to explain the photoelectric effect.

Einstein introduced the idea of the threshold frequency and the particle
nature of light. He looked at how properties of light affected the energy
and intensity of the light.
He explained the photoelectric effect using Plancks assumptions: energy
is quantised, E = hf and all its consequences.
He thus validated Plancks work which was regarded as an act of
mathematical fudgery.

a) If we were to plot frequency vs. maximum kinetic energy, what would be

the:
i.
gradient
ii.
y intercept?

b) Is it linear?
c) Is it the same for all metals of different threshold frequencies?

Applications? The Photocell.

Photocell: an electronic device which changes resistance when exposed to light.

No light = no current.
R = V/I. If I = 0, then R = very high.
With light, due to the photoelectric effect, electrons travel across the gap.
Resistance is lowered.
Used in:

Alarm systems
Automatic doors