Why do electrons behave like a particle in the photoelectric effect?

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Shanzey
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Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:20 am

Why do electrons behave like a particle in the photoelectric effect?

Postby Shanzey » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:41 pm

Why is it the electrons exhibit particle-like behavior for the photoelectric effect, when they also have wave-like properties?

Myka G 1l
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:17 am

Re: Why do electrons behave like a particle in the photoelectric effect?

Postby Myka G 1l » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:36 pm

In the photoelectric effect, the photons behave as particles because they experience 1:1 interactions with the electrons in the metal. Increasing the intensity of the light does not result in more energy in this experiment(as it would if light was behaving as a wave) because increasing the intensity is only increasing the number of photons, these individual photons still don't have the energy needed to surpass the threshold energy of the metal and eject an electron. In order to eject electrons, the frequency must be higher, resulting in higher energies of the individual particles, which can surpass the threshold energy of the metal.

Helen Struble 2F
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:17 am

Re: Why do electrons behave like a particle in the photoelectric effect?

Postby Helen Struble 2F » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:07 pm

The photoelectric effect actually studies the particle-like qualities of light, more so than electrons. If light were truly a wave, then by the standard wave model increasing the intensity of the light should eject electrons from the surface of a metal. It was assumed that more intensity = more energy to meet the energy threshold. However, increasing the intensity of longer wavelengths did not result in ejected electrons.

It was thus theorized that light did not behave exclusively as a wave—it behaves like a particle, too. This was able to explain the photoelectric effect. Because it is a single photon which interacts with a single electron, it is the energy of the photon, not of the wave, that must overcome the energy threshold required to eject electrons. Light exhibits wave-like properties AND particle-like properties, but certain experiments capitalize on its wave properties and other capitalize on its particle properties.


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