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In the lecture today Dr Lavelle mentioned that electrons show wave like properties. I was a bit confused because in previous lectures i thought he said electrons act as packets or particles. could someone help explain this to me?
I think the thought was that electrons have a particle-wave duality. In which they act as both a particle and a wave in different experiments. The main idea to take away from this I believe was that things in the quantum world behave quite a bit differently from those of the classical world or the (large) world that we are able to see.
Like Olivia said, I believe Professor Lavelle wanted us to understand that there exists a wave-particle duality for elementary particles like electrons or photons in the quantum world. As an example, for light and photons, we understand that they are waves with measured frequencies, amplitudes, and wavelengths. However, on a quantum level, seen in the photoelectric effect experiment, defining light and photons as simply waves was not sufficient when increasing the intensity (amplitude) of light did not allow for previously not ejected electrons to then get ejected. We have to understand that photons, too, are particles with intrinsic energy values that interact one to one with electrons on the metal surface in order to eject them.
He mentioned that anything at the quantum level elicits some wave-like properties. Like with light, electrons have some properties that are best described using a particle model. In the experiments discussed last week, the particle model was best suited to describing the properties of electrons. However, in some cases, such as the diffraction seen when electrons pass through a crystal, electrons are better described with the wave model.
I believe that all objects have this wave-particle duality. The only reason we don't see it in objects like baseballs or cars is because the momentum of these objects results in a small wavelength (when plugged into the DeBriglie equation). This wavelength is too small for us to register that the objects have wavelike properties.
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