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Photons are essentially packets of energy. The photoelectric effect basically states that a certain amount of energy is required to emit an electron from a metal (work function). If the photon's energy equals or exceeds the work function then the photon will transfer it's energy to the electron so that the electron can be emitted.
A photon is essentially a packet of electromagnetic energy. Photons are unique in that they are both, a particle and a wave. A photon must have enough energy (high enough frequency) in order to remove an electron from a metal. In other words, the photon's energy must be greater than or equal to the threshold energy of the metal, which is the amount of energy required to remove an electron. The threshold energy varies by metal.
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