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# UNIT 7

Waves and Modern Physics

CHAPTER 18: EARLY QUANTUM THEORY

Based on his studies of the absorption and emission spectra of gases, Gustav Kirchhoff was able to define the properties of a blackbody. He observed that gases emit very specific frequencies of light. He proposed that all objects absorb the same frequencies of radiation that they emit.

Since black objects absorb all frequencies of light, they must also emit all frequencies of light. This is a blackbody. A blackbody is define as a perfect radiator – a body that emits a complete spectrum of electromagnetic radiation.

The most commonly referred to blackbodies are the Sun and Stars!

Fortunately, blackbodies are very easy to create – anything that has its inner walls heated to a very high temperature and has a very small hole for radiation to escape will give off a spectrum almost identical to a blackbody.

Kirchhoff was able to show that the power radiated by a blackbody depends on the blackbody’s temperature. So, as the temperature of a blackbody increases, the frequency that is emitted with the highest intensity (the highest peak on the curve) also increases.

Josef Stefan showed experimentally that the power radiated by a blackbody over a certain area is related to the fourth power of the temperature.

But there was a problem! Lord Rayleigh and Sir James Hopwood Jeans tries to use this energy-temperature relationship experimentally and failed miserably. This experiment went so horribly differently that it is now called the ultraviolet catastrophe!

ULTRAVIOLET CATASTROPHE

THE BIRTH OF QUANTUM THEORY

Max Planck, a student of Kirchhoff, created an empirical relationship between the intensity and frequency of blackbody radiation. Planck assigned discreet energy levels to the oscillators in the blackbody. He set these allowed energy values for the oscillators equal to a proportionality constant, h, times the frequency.

THE BIRTH OF QUANTUM THEORY

According to this hypothesizes system, an oscillator could exist with an energy of zero or any integer multiple of hf, but not at energy levels in between.

THE BIRTH OF QUANTUM THEORY

A system like this is said to be quantized – there is a minimum amount of energy (also called a quantum of energy) that can be exchanged in any interaction.

Planck eventually determined the value of h, now called Planck’s constant.

THE BIRTH OF QUANTUM THEORY

This new idea that Planck proposed – that energy is quantized – was so new and radical that physicists (Planck included) were unwilling to accept it. They needed more evidence before they could support this theory – it had the potential to destroy all of the physics knowledge they had solved thus far.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

The photoelectric effect, the experiment that would soon confirm the theory of quantization of energy, was discovered completely by accident! Heinrich Hertz wanted to verify Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism, so he created an electric circuit that generated an oscillating current, causing sparks to jump back and forth between a gap between electrodes. He noticed that the sparks were enhanced when the metal electrodes were exposed to ultraviolet light.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

It wasn’t until 10 years later that Thomson discovered electrons. Now, physicists were able to explain the phenomenon that Hertz saw. The ultraviolet light had ejected electrons from Hertz’s metal electrodes, thus creating a “conducting path” for the sparks to follow. This ejection became known as the photoelectric effect.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

In 1902, Lenard decided to perform more detailed experiments on the photoelectric effect. He noticed that when he increased to intensity of the ultraviolet let, the current through the system increased. So, he decided to switch the polarities and try again – now the electric field between the electrodes would oppose the motion of the photoelectron.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

He realized that, now, as he increased the potential difference, the current gradually decreased until it stopped flowing entirely. The potential difference that stopped the photoelectrons is called the stopping potential. He also noticed that the stopping potential for higher frequencies of light was greater than for lower frequencies.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

This meant that light of higher frequencies ejects electron with greater kinetic energies! Overall, Lenard showed that:
When the intensity of the light increases, the number of electrons ejected increases.  The maximum kinetic energy of the electrons is determined only by the frequency of the light (not by the intensity).

This second point cannot be explained by classical wave theory of light!

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

After all of this happened, Einstein proposed that light must not only be emitted as quanta, but it also must be absorbed as quanta. He then suggested that Planck’s unit of energy, E=hf, is the energy of a photon! He said that when a photon hits a metal surface, all of its energy is absorbed by one electron in a single event.

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

Since the energy of a photon is related to the frequency of the light, a photon with a higher frequency has more energy to give an electron. Thus, increasing the intensity of light of a given frequency ONLY increases the number of photons – it has no effect on the energy of a single photon!

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

Einstein also said that some of the photon’s energy is being used to overcome the attractive forces that hold the electron onto the surface of the metal, so that they can be ejected.

This is because some electrons are buried “deeper” into the metal, so a larger amount of energy is needed for them to be ejected from the surface.
So, the electrons with the most kinetic energy are those that are most loosely bound!

THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

Einstein called this the work function (W), which is the minimum amount of energy necessary to remove an electron from the metal surface.

MILLIKAN AND THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

Millikan then established that the charge of an electron was 1.60*10^-19C. He wanted to prove Einstein wrong, so he recreated the experiment and measured the stopping potential for a variety of frequencies, using the equation: E = qV.
E – energy of the charge q – the charge of the electron V – the potential difference

MILLIKAN AND THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

In this case, E was the maximum kinetic energy of the electron and q is the charge of the electron, so the equation becomes:

He then plotted his data and, much to his disappointment, managed to prove Einstein’s equations perfectly!

MILLIKAN AND THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT

THE ELECTRON VOLT (EV)

The electron volt is the energy gained by one electron as it falls through the potential difference of one volt. So really, it is just a conversion factor!

EXAMPLE

Light with a wavelength of 571nm strikes a cesium metal surface inside a vacuum tube.
a. What is the maximum kinetic energy of the electrons emitted from the surface? b. What is the stopping potential for these electrons? c. What is the threshold frequency for cesium metal?

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LIGHT PARTICLES AND MATTER WAVES

When Millikan’s results verified Einstein’s theory about the photoelectric effect, the scientific community began to accept the particle nature of light.

Physicists started to question just how much a particle of light, or a photon, resembled a particle of matter.
They decided to see if the law of conservation of momentum would apply to a collision between a photon and an electron.

THE COMPTON EFFECT

The best way to study the properties of particle to to use “free” particles. But, where are electrons usually found? So they decided that if they could find photons with a very large amount of energy, then the work function for the metal (the energy keeping the electron in the metal) would be insignificant.

THE COMPTON EFFECT

So, Compton used X-rays to perform the experiment. So, he collided these X-ray photons with electrons, and found out that when they collided the X-ray photon gave some of its energy to the electron and the rest of the energy scatters off as a lower energy photon.

THE COMPTON EFFECT

It is simple to describe the conservation of energy of the collision now that we know about the quantization of energy. We can simply replace the total energy with the photon energy and get: What can we say about the scattered photon if it has a lower energy?

THE COMPTON EFFECT

But what’s the problem with solving for the conservation of momentum? What can we use that is specifically used for describing relativistic particles?

THE COMPTON EFFECT

Using these two equations, we can derive a relationship for the momentum that does not include the mass!

THE COMPTON EFFECT

Using this new equation for the momentum of a photon, Compton was able to show that momentum was conserved in the collision between an electron and a photon.

So, these collisions obey all of the laws for collisions between two masses. The division between matter and energy is becoming even more faint than it already was!

THE COMPTON EFFECT

Calculate the momentum of a photon of light that has a frequency of 5.09x10^14 Hz.

THE DE BROGLIE WAVELENGTH

By the 1920’s, physicists had, for the most part, accepted the quantum theory of light and continued to refine the concepts. As part of his doctoral dissertation, Lois de Broglie proposed that not only do light waves behave as particles, but al particulate matter has wave properties.

THE DE BROGLIE WAVELENGTH

He then came up with what is now called the de Broglie wavelength using the Compton effect:

THE DE BROGLIE WAVELENGTH

Calculate the wavelength of an electron moving with a velocity of 6.39x10^6 m/s.

THE WAVE-PARTICLE DUALITY

So, thanks to a Physicist named Young, who created the famous experiment called Young’s double slit, it was shown that all subatomic particles have wave natures.

But does this mean we’ve dropped out knowledge of Newtonian mechanics? This is called wave-particle duality!