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CONTENTS

Page no.

Abstract
Introduction

2
2

Failure of classical wave theory

Existence of threshold frequency

Almost immediate emission of photoelectrons

The independence of kinetic energy of photoelectron


on intensity and the dependence on frequency 3
Plancks Quantum theory
4
Electromagnetic radiation
4
The Discovery of the Quantum
5

MORE EVIDENCE FOR A PARTICLE THEORY OF ENERGY

The Photoelectric effect


Emission mechanism
Theory

8
10
10
10
13
14
16
16

Methods and materials


Apparatus
Experimental procedure
Results
Frequency of light and voltage
Value of Plancks constant
For
For
For

1=435.8nm
2=546nm
3 =435.8nm

Average Value
Percentage error
Discussion
Applications of Plancks constant
Conclusion
Sources of error
Systematic Errors

5
6
7

16
16
16
17
17
17
18
19
19

Precautions
Reference
Appendix

20
20
21

ABSTRACT

We test Einsteins theory of the photoelectric


eect, which predicts a linear relation between the energy of
light incident on a metal surface and the energy of the emitted
electrons. We determine the electron stopping voltage as a
function of frequency of incident radiation by illuminating a
potassium cathode and constraining the wavelength of incident
radiation using several optical band-pass lters. From this, we
calculate the constant of proportionality h/e as well as the
constant oset, known as the work function. Our analysis
included the criteria to determine the stopping voltage, which
led to a dierent estimate of Plancks constant. Our nal results
for this method is h = (7.12 0.88) 1034 Js.
INTRODUCTION

In 1887, Hertz was the rst to discover that a


metallic surface, when illuminated by light of sucient
frequency, may emit electricity. This photoelectric eect was
unexplained until Einstein connected this experimental
curiosity with Plancks idea that radiation comes in small
packets, or quanta. He proposed that the energy of the ejected
electrons is proportional to the energy of the incident light with
a constant oset that is unique to the metal, referred to as the
work function. This phenomenon was a crucial precursor to the
formulation of quantum mechanics as it was one of the rst to
show the wave-particle duality of light. When light incident
upon a matter target caused the emission of electrons from the
target. The eect was termed the Hertz Eect (and later the
Photoelectric Eect) and the electrons referred to as
photoelectrons. It was understood that the electrons were able
2

to absorb the energy of the incident light and escape from the
coulomb potential that bound it to the nucleus. According to
classical wave theory, the energy of a light wave is proportional
to the intensity of the light beam only. Therefore, varying the
frequency of the light should have no eect on the number and
energy of resultant photoelectrons. We hope to disprove this
classical hypothesis through experimentation, by demonstrating
that the energy of light does indeed depend on the frequency of
light, and that this dependence is linear with Plancks constant h
as the constant of proportionality. We will examine this eect,
test the hypothesized linear relation, and extract values for
Plancks constant.
FAILURE OF CLASSICAL WAVE THEORY:

According to classical wave theory,


Intensity of a wave is the energy incident per unit area
per unit time.
Energy carried by an electromagnetic wave is
proportional to the square of the amplitude of the wave.
Classical wave theory cannot explain the first 3 observations of
photoelectric effect.
EXISTENCE OF THE THRESHOLD FREQUENCY:

Since energy of the wave is dependent on the square of


its amplitude, the classical wave theory predicts that if
sufficiently intense light is used, the electrons would
absorb enough energy to escape. There should not be any
threshold frequency.

ALMOST IMMEDIATE EMISSION OF PHOTOELECTRONS:

Based on classical wave theory, electrons require a period


of time before sufficient energy is absorbed for it to
escape from the metal. Accordingly, a dim light after some
delay would transfer sufficient energy to the electrons for
ejection, whereas a very bright light would eject electrons
after a short while. However, this did not happen in
photoelectric effect.

THE INDEPENDENCE OF KINETIC ENERGY OF PHOTOELECTRON ON


INTENSITY AND THE DEPENDENCE ON FREQUENCY:

According to classical wave theory, if light of higher


intensity is used, the kinetic energy of an ejected electron
can be increased. This is because the greater the intensity,
the larger the energy of the light wave striking the metal
surface, so electrons are ejected with greater kinetic
energy. However, it cannot explain why maximum kinetic
energy is dependent on the frequency and independent of
intensity.

PLANCKS QUANTUM THEORY:

In the late 18th century, great progress in physics


had been made. Classical Newtonian physics at the time was
widely accepted in the scientific community for its ability to
accurately explain and predict many phenomena. However, by
the early 20th century, physicists discovered that the laws of
classical mechanics are not applicable at the atomic scale, and
experiments such as the photoelectric effect completely
contradicted the laws of classical physics. As a result of these
observations, physicists articulated a set of theories now known
as quantum mechanics. In some ways, quantum mechanics
completely changed the way physicists viewed the universe,
and it also marked the end of the idea of a clockwork universe
(the idea that universe was predictable).
ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION:

Electromagnetic (EM) radiation is a form of


energy with both wave-like and particle-like properties; visible
light being a well-known example. From the wave perspective,
all forms of EM radiation may be described in terms of their
wavelength and frequency. Wavelength is the distance from one
wave peak to the next, which can be measured in meters.

Frequency is the number of waves that pass by a given point


each second. While the wavelength and frequency of EM
radiation may vary, its speed in a vacuum remains constant at
3.0 x 108 m/sec, the speed of light. The wavelength or
frequency of any specific occurrence of EM radiation determine
its position on the electromagnetic spectrum and can be
calculated from the following equation:
C=f

where c is the constant 3.0 x 108 m/sec (the speed


of light in a vacuum),

= wavelength in meters, and f

=frequency in hertz (1/s). It is important to note that by using

this equation, one can determine the wavelength of light from a


given frequency and vice versa.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE QUANTUM:

The wave model cannot account for something


known as the photoelectric effect. This effect is observed when
light focused on certain metals emits electrons. For each metal,
there is a minimum threshold frequency of EM radiation at
which the effect will occur. Replacement of light with twice the
intensity and half the frequency will not produce the same
outcome, contrary to what would be expected if light acted
strictly as a wave. In that case, the effect of light would be
cumulativethe light should add up, little by little, until it
caused electrons to be emitted. Instead, there is a clear-cut
minimum frequency of light that triggers electron ejection. The
implication was that frequency is directly proportional to
energy, with the higher light frequencies having more energy.
This observation led to the discovery of the minimum amount
of energy that could be gained or lost by an atom. Max Planck
named this minimum amount the "quantum," plural "quanta,"

meaning "how much." One photon of light carries exactly one


quantum of energy.
Planck is considered the father of the Quantum
Theory. According to Planck: E= hf, where h is Planck's
constant (6.63 x 10-34 Js), f is the frequency, and E is energy of
an electromagnetic wave. Planck (cautiously) insisted that this
was simply an aspect of the processes of absorption and
emission of radiation and had nothing to do with the physical
reality of the radiation itself. However, in 1905, Albert Einstein
reinterpreted Planck's quantum hypothesis and used it to
explain the photoelectric effect, in which shining light on
certain materials can eject electrons from the material.
MORE EVIDENCE FOR A PARTICLE THEORY OF ENERGY:

When an electric current is passed through a gas,


some of the electrons in the gas molecules move from their
ground energy state to an excited state that is further away from
their nuclei. When the electrons return to the ground state, they
emit energy of various wavelengths. A prism can be used to
separate the wavelengths, making them easy to identify. If light
acted only as a wave, then there should be a continuous
rainbow created by the prism. Instead, there are discrete lines
created by different wavelengths. This is because electrons
release specific wavelengths of light when moving from an
excited state to the ground state.
THE PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT:

When light shines on the surface of a metallic


substance, electrons in the metal absorb the energy of the light
and they can escape from the metal's surface. This is called
the photoelectric effect, and it is used to produce the electric
current that runs many solar-powered devices. Using the idea

that light is a wave with the energy distributed evenly


throughout the wave, classical physicists expected that when
using very dim light, it would take some time for enough light
energy to build up to eject an electron from a metallic
surface. WRONG!! Experiments show that if light of a certain
frequency can eject electrons from a metal, it makes no
difference how dim the light is. There is never a time delay.

In 1905, Albert Einstein came up with the solution.


If Max Planck's idea that energy comes in clumps (quanta) is
correct, then light must consist of a stream of clumps of energy.
Each clump of light energy is called a photon, said Einstein,
and each photon has an energy equal to hf (Planck's constant
times the frequency of the light). Therefore the energy of light
is not evenly distributed along the wave, but is concentrated in
the photons. A dimmer light means fewer photons, but simply
turning down the light (without changing its frequency) does
not alter the energy of an individual photon. So for a specific
frequency light, if a single photon has enough energy to eject an
electron from a metallic surface, then electrons will always be
ejected immediately after the light is turned on and the photons
hit the metal. The photoelectric effect requires photons with
energies from a few electronvolts to over 1 MeV in elements
with a high atomic number.

In 1887, Heinrich Hertz discovered that electrodes illuminated


with ultraviolet light create electric sparks more easily. In 1905
Albert Einstein published a paper that explained experimental
data from the photoelectric effect as the result of light energy
being carried in discrete quantized packets. This discovery led
to the quantum revolution. In 1914, Robert Millikan's
experiment confirmed Einstein's law on photoelectric effect.
Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for "his
discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", and Millikan
was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for "his work on the
elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect"
EMISSION MECHANISM:

The photons of a light beam have a characteristic


energy proportional to the frequency of the light. In the
photoemission process, if an electron within some material
absorbs the energy of one photon and acquires more energy
than the work function (the electron binding energy) of the
material, it is ejected. If the photon energy is too low, the
electron is unable to escape the material. Since an increase in
the intensity of low-frequency light will only increase the
number of low-energy photons sent over a given interval of
time, this change in intensity will not create any single photon
with enough energy to dislodge an electron. Thus, the energy of
the emitted electrons does not depend on the intensity of the
incoming light, but only on the energy (equivalently frequency)
of the individual photons. It is an interaction between the
incident photon and the outermost electrons.
Electrons can absorb energy from photons when
irradiated, but they usually follow an "all or nothing" principle.
All of the energy from one photon must be absorbed and used
to liberate one electron from atomic binding, or else the energy
is re-emitted. If the photon energy is absorbed, some of the
energy liberates the electron from the atom, and the rest
contributes to the electron's kinetic energy as a free particle.

THEORY:

Plancks constant apparatus has been designed for


determining the magnitude of a fundamental physical quantity,
Plancks constant. It consist of a phototube in which
photoelectric emission occurs, two rheostats for adjusting the
voltage and connecting terminals mounting on a housing with
attached clamp which fits a 13-mm support rod. A card
containing a set of three sharp cutoff filters fits in a holder in
front of the phototube. The filters are used with a mercury arc
light source and are numbered according to the wavelength of
the highest frequency spectral line of mercury which they will
transmit. The wavelengths 577.0nm, 546.0nm and 435.8nm
corresponds to the frequencies of 5.19 1014Hz, 5.49 1014Hz
and 6.87 1014Hz respectively,(1nm=10-9m).
A phototube consist of two electrodes enclosed in
an evacuated glass tube. One electrode has a large
photosensitive surface and is called the cathode or the emitter.
The other electrode is in the form of a wire and is called the
anode or the collector. In normal operation the anode is held at
a positive potential with respect to the cathode. When the
cathode is exposed to the light, electrons are ejected from its
photosensitive surface. These electrons are attracted to the
positive anode and form a current which can be measured with
a galvanometer.
The kinetic energy of the ejected electrons is
determined by the frequency of the light striking the phototube.
The quantity of the ejected electrons is dependent on the intensity
of light. The maximum kinetic energy of the photoelectrons is
given by
K.Emax = hf-w
Where,
h = Plancks constant
f = Frequency
w = work done

Since the work function, which is the energy required to


release an electron from the surface of a metal is a constant, the
maximum kinetic energy depends directly on the frequency of
light.

If the potential applied to the anode is gradually


decreased and made negative, then the electrons ejected from the
cathode will not have enough energy to reach the anode and will
be repelled back to the cathode. At a certain voltage called
stopping potential the electron current from the cathode to the
anode will become equal to zero. At that point the maximum
kinetic energy of the electrons is equal to.
eV = hf W
where,
e = electron charge

10

(1.602 10-19 coulombs)


V = stopping potential
By experimentally determining the stopping
potential for several values of frequency and using the above
equation, Plancks constant can be determined.
For first filter
eV1 = hf1 W _____________ (1)
For second filter eV2 = hf2 W _____________ (2)
Subtracting (2) from (1), we have
E (V1 V2) = h (f1 f2)
Or,
h=

e(V 1 V 2)
(f 1f 2)

METHODS AND MATERIALS

To perform the experiment well need the following.

Apparatus:

A sensitive Galvanometer
Electronic voltmeter.
Mercury Arc Light Source, High Intensity.
Two Dry Cells, Each of 1.5 volts.

EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE

An electronic voltmeter (VTVM) is suggested for


this experiment because of its high input impedance. It has been
found that any voltmeter with a low input impedance affects the
circuit and the current.
A mercury arc lamp used with sharp cutoff filters
has been found to be the most useful way of obtaining several
distinct wavelengths of high intensity light for this experiment.
White light is less satisfactory because of the difficulty and
expense of obtaining high transmission narrow band pass filters
to isolate the desired wavelengths.

11

Support the apparatus on a stand by means of


spring clamp. Construct the circuit diagram by connecting the
galvanometer, voltmeter and batteries to the approximately
labeled terminals.
Place the card containing the sharp cut-off filters in
the slot in front of the photo-tube. Illuminate the tube with the
high intensity mercury arc light source. After aligning the light
source in front of the tube do not move either the light source or
the Plancks constant apparatus for the duration of the
experiment. The room should be dark when performing the
experiment as extraneous light of a slightly higher frequency

12

than that of the spectral line of mercury under consideration


may pass into the phototube and causes error.
Using the two rheostats to control the voltage, start
with the zero volts and gradually increase the retarding
potential in increase of 0.1 volt. At each voltage record the
galvanometer current as closely as possible. An accurate
determination of Plancks constant depends greatly on the
accuracy with which this data is taken especially for negative
values of current. Plot the curve of galvanometer current versus
reverse potential. Repeat the above procedure using the other
filters in front of the phototube.

In order to properly analyze the current-potential


curves to obtain the stopping potential the emission of electrons
from the anode must be taken into account. Anode emission
probably occurs because of a small amount of photo-sensitive
material deposited on it during construction of the cell.
Although the relative number of electrons emitted by the anode
is very small, their contribution to the current is appreciable.
Thus, the potential required to stop completely the electron

13

emitted by the cathode is greater than the potential at which the


net current is zero. A typical experimental curve is given above.
It can be seen to be composed of two curves (doted lines). The
forward current is the electron current from cathode to anode,
while the reverse current results from the anode emission. The
stopping potential is estimated as the value of the voltage at
which current becomes approximately constant. Because it is
difficult to determine an exact value of stopping potential from
the I-V curve, the experiment should be repeated several times
and an average value should be determined.
When the average value of the stopping potential
has been obtained for each frequency, stopping potential should
be plotted against frequency. Plancks constant can be
determined from the slope of V-f curve by using the relation.
h = e ( V )

The standard value of h is 6.625 10-34


RESULTS

14

Sr no.

Potential (volts)

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13

0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.0
1.1
1.2

1=435.8nm
I (div)

1=546
nm
I (div)

1=577
nm
I (div)

2.9
2.5
1.9
1.35
0.8
0.5
0.3
0.15
0.1
0
0
-0.05
-0.06

1.3
1.0
0.65
0.3
0.1
0
-0.01
-0.02

0.5
0.4
0.2
0.1
0
-0.01

Graph b/w I & V


3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
Current I
0
-0.5

Voltage V
I (div) for 435nm

I (div) for 546nm

I (div) for 577nm

FREQUENCY OF LIGHT AND VOLTAGE:

1=435.8nm
C=
So,

f 1=

f 1 1
c
1
8

310
f 1=
9
435.8 10

f 1 =

6.88 1014 Hz

Similarly for:

2=546nm
C=

15

f 2 2

So,

f 2=

c
2

3108
f 2=
9
546 10

f 2=

5.49 1014 Hz

Similarly:

3 =577nm
C=
So,

f 3 3

f 3=

c
3
8

310
f 3=
9
577 10

f 3 =

5.19 1014 Hz

From Graph (stopping potential):


V1 = 0.95v for

16

V2 = 0.5v

for

V3 = 0.4v

for

f 1 =

6.88 1014 Hz

f 2=

5.49 1014 Hz

f 3 =

5.19 1014 Hz

Sr no.

Stopping potential(v)

Frequency(Hz)

1
2
3

0.95
0.5
0.4

6.88 1014
5.49 1014
5.19 1014

Graph between f & V


1
0.8

f(x) = 0.28x + 0.07

0.6

stopping potential V

0.4
0.2
0
5.19

5.49

6.88

Frequency f
Linear ()

Linear ()

VALUE OF PLANCKS CONSTANT:


FOR

1=435.8nm
h1 = e(V 1 V 2)

f 1f 2
e = 1.6 10-19

here,

h1 =

(1.61019 )(0.950.5)
(6.88 1014 5.49 1014)

h1 = 5.17 10-34 Js
FOR

2=546nm
h2 = e(V 2 V 3)

f 2f 3
here,

17

e = 1.6 10-19

h2 =

19

(1.610 )(0.50.4)
14
14
(5.49 10 5.19 10 )

h2 = 5.33 10-34 Js
FOR

2=577nm
h3 = e(V 3 V 1)

f 3f 1
here,

e = 1.6 10-19
h3 =

(1.61019)(0.40.95)
(5.19 10146.88 1014)

h3 = 5.20 10-34Js
AVERAGE VALUE:

Our experiment value gives:


h1 = 5.17 10-34
h2 = 5.33 10-34
h3 = 5.20 10-34
Average value:
h = h1 + h2 +h3
h = 5.17 10-34 + 5.33 10-34 + 5.20 10-34
h = 5.23 10-34 Js
PERCENTAGE ERROR:

Actual value = h = 6.63 10-34 Js


Observed value = h = 5.23 10-34 Js
18

Actual valueObserved value 100


Actual value
34
34
Percentage error = (6.63 10 5.23 10 ) 100
6.63 1034
Percentage error =

Percentage error = 0.21 100 = 21


DISCUSSION

APPLICATIONS OF PLANCKS CONSTANT:

Using the Planck constant, the speed of light in a vacuum


(186,383 miles per second), and the gravitational constant, the
Planck length can be determined. According to the theory, and
supported by all our current knowledge of physics, the Planck
length is the smallest length anything can be. This may not
seem possible, but there is a length that is simply indivisible. A
good analogy for this is a pixel on a computer screen. To our
eyes, the many dots blend into a full image, but at subatomic
(well perhaps sub-subatomic) levels, there is actually a smallest
length. No one knows what kind of matter (if it exists) could be
at this primitive level. The Planck length is exactly 1.61625281

1035
meters
(0.0000000000000000000000000000000000161625281
meters).
A theory of the Big Bang violates this claim,
because if the Universe began from an infinitesimal point it
would go through a period, however short, where the
dimensions of the Universe would be smaller than the smallest
possible length. There are two possible ways to excuse this
possible exception. One is that the Universe never got that
small, and a Big Bounce occurred. A Big Bounce occurs when a
Universe contracts into a very small region and then re-expands
into another, separate Universe. Therefore, the Universe never

19

reached a size below the Planck length before billowing out


into another Universe. The other possibility is that the Universe
did go through a Big Bang, but the time in which the Universe
would have been smaller than the Planck length is shorter than
(you guessed it) the Planck time. The Planck time is another
unit indirectly derived from the Planck constant. The Planck
time can directly be calculated after the Planck length is known,
because the Planck time is the amount of time it takes for light
(the fastest thing in the Universe. Actually, there is a theory that
there is a particle that travels faster than the speed of light, see
the Tachyon) to travel over one Planck length. The actual value
of one unit of Planck time is 5.3912427 10-44 seconds (the
actual
value
is
0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000005391242
7 seconds).
CONCLUSION

The results obtained from the experiment gave


approximate value of Plancks constant 5.23 10 -34. The actual
value of Plancks constant is 6.63 10 -34. So we obtained the
value of Plancks constant from the experiment with 21
error.

We have successfully shown, albeit qualitatively,


that the ratio of the energy of incident radiation to its frequency
is a constant, and that there are low frequencies which do not
produce a photocurrent. However, we have failed on the
quantitative front. The values of h reported here clearly dier
from the established value; the rst calculation by 1 st filter, the
second calculation 2nd filter and the third calculation by 3rd
filter. Throughout the course of the experiment, we have tried to
ensure that no systemic sources of error were present. We made
sure our equipment was properly grounded, checked the
readings on the power supply and electrometer with a hand-held

20

voltmeter, and ensured that background noise was not


signicantly aecting the observed data.
SOURCES OF ERROR
SYSTEMATIC ERRORS:

Two sources of systematic error that may confound


the data and aect our analysis include the spread in
frequencies permitted to pass through the lter and the negative
current. The former is a result of the reported error on the
central wavelength of the band-pass lter: 2.0nm. Originally,
we considered this as a main contributor in the nonlinearity of
our data. However, further investigation, revealed that the
spectral output of the mercury lamp is far too peaked for this to
be a signicant source of error. Over time, potassium residue
builds up on the anode and light reected from the cathode back
onto the anode may cause photoemission at the anode, resulting
in electrons being accelerated toward the cathode. In eect, this
means that a zero current reading doesnt correspond to no
photoelectrons reaching the anode from the cathode, but it
indicates where the photocurrents from the cathode and from
the anode cancel out. Therefore the true stopping voltage at
which electrons with maximum kinetic energy are being
stopped is detected as a negative current. This complicates our
analysis greatly, as we now need a V-cuto selection method
that takes this eect into account. Since the reverse current
decreases monotonically with increasing positive retarding
voltage, we expect that the data should have a characteristic
linear tail.
Some other possible errors may be:
Instrument resolution
Failure to calibrate or check zero of instrument

21

Failure to account for a factor


Environmental factors(room not completely dark)
Instrument drift

PRECAUTIONS:

Never remove filters from the apparatus.


Never apply the voltage greater than the specified value,
always use dry cell for this purpose.
Put the high intensity Hg lamp at the suitable distance
from the filters.
Dont look directly at the high intensity mercury lamp,
permanent damage to vision can result.
Experiment should be performed in dark room.
REFERENCE

The American Institute of Physics Handbook (12th


edition)
Introduction to the Structure of Matter, JJ Brehm & WJ
Mullin, Wiley (inside cover)
Professor Quib
Course Manual
Wikipedia

APPENDIX

Electromagnetic radiation
Radiation (quantized as photons) consisting of oscillating
electric and magnetic fields oriented perpendicularly to each other,
moving through space.

Photoelectric effect

The emission of electrons from the surface of a material


following the absorption of electromagnetic radiation.

22

Threshold frequency
For a given metal, there exists a certain minimum frequency of
incident radiation below which no photoelectrons are emitted. This
frequency is called the threshold frequency.

Stopping potential
If we apply a negative potential to the collector plate Q with
respect to the plate P and gradually increase it, the photoelectric
current decreases, becoming zero at a certain negative potential. The
negative potential on the collector at which the photoelectric current
becomes zero is called the stopping potential or cut off potential

X___________________________________________________

M. Usman Mustafa

23

Group 5 (Leader)