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PH300 Modern Physics SP11

Summary from last time…

•  Scientists “make up” theories to explain the
evidence they see.
•  These theories are constrained by experiment.
•  We can’t always open up the seed and look
inside. Have to make inferences from indirect
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried evidence.
anything new.” - Albert Einstein •  A theory with a plausible mechanism is more
convincing than a rote algorithm.
•  The more different cases our theory works on, the
2/15 Day 9: Thursday: more we believe it.
Questions? Photoelectric Effect
Exam 1
•  But it could always be wrong…
Photoelectric Effect
1 2

The Photoelectric Effect Experimental apparatus: PE effect

The photoelectric effect is a Metal surface

phenomenon in which electrons Glass cylinder
are emitted from a metal as a
consequence of the electrons
absorbing energy from light.

The effect was only observed with UV light, but not so with
red or IR light. à Effect is frequency dependent!?

But Maxwell told us that the light intensity doesn’t depend on

frequency! (Intensity only depends on |E|2)

Experimental apparatus: PE effect What happens?


Metal surface Glass cylinder 2 ohms

- 10 V +

Two metal plates in vacuum with a voltage between them.

How much current is flowing through the resistor?
A) 0A
B) 0.2 A Answer: (A) 0 amps.
Adjustable voltage C) 5A No electrons there to move.
D) 10 A Note: different from resistor across gap.
E) infinite current
Current meter

When does an electric field exert a
An electric field ALWAYS exerts a force
force on a charge? on any charge!
A)  Always    
B)  Sometimes (depends on the charge) (
Fq = q E + v × B ) Lorentz force law

C) Sometimes (need an oscillating E-field)

D) Sometimes (depends on many things)
In the absence of a magnetic field:
E)  Never Force = charge x electric field
 
F = q⋅E

Potential difference between A and B is 10 V

Photoelectric effect experiment apparatus. Without light, no electrons can get across gap.
Two metal plates in vacuum, adjustable voltage between But if we put an electron near the surface of plate A it 'feels' the
them, shine light on one plate. Measure current between plates. electric field between the two plates.
The electron accelerates towards the positive plate (B) and
picks up the energy ΔE=qΔV= q(10V) = 1 electron charge x
10 V = 10 eV

Uniform E-field E
F=qE + 10V
between plates 0V +
A + B
Constant +
force on
A B àconstant
- 10V + Current==0.1
Current 0 AA

Potential difference between A and B = acceleration

0V 10Volts
- 10 V +
a. 0 V, b. 5 V, c. 10 V d. infinite volts

A note about units of energy How to put the e- close to plate A?

Joules are good for macroscopic energy conversions. Shine light on the plate!!
But when talking about energy of single electrons,
Joules are inconvenient… (way too big!) Metal surface Glass cylinder
Define new energy unit: The electron-volt (eV)
1eV = kinetic energy gained by an electron when
accelerated through 1 volt of potential difference +
A Electrons get pulled B
Vacuum plate B by +
1eV ≈ 1.6·10-19 J
F = E·q the electric field
0V 1V
F +
E path + Adjustable voltage
1V Current meter

First we could argue that the light heats Experimental apparatus: PE effect
up the plate  electrons pop-out
Play with color and intensity
& measure current.

I  # e− s

Measure the current! Measure the current!

Swimming Pool Analogy

If no water slops over side of pool, no flow. Little pump or big
pump, still no water current. Similar to: Hot plate.
If electrons stuck inside metal plate, no current for little or big V. A few electrons get
enough energy to just
barely “splash” out.

What is the current

vs. battery voltage?

0 Voltage
? 0 Voltage


Pool party: put bunch of energy into water, splash some out, C
get flow through pump.
Put energy into metal by heating it very hot, D 0 Voltage
0 Voltage
gives electrons energy, some “splash” out. Gives current.

What’s happening here?

Each electron that pops out is accelerated and
Vacuum tube diode
hits the plate on the right side.

Here, BUT: # of electrons = constant

So current is constant!

by neg.


not I = V / R !!

0 Battery Voltage voltage

reverse V, reverse V,
Vacuum tube diode!
no electrons no electrons
- early electronic device.
flow. flow.

Photolelectric effect experiment apparatus.
Recap for today. We know:
Electrons I. How apparatus works.
Test metal

II. What would expect to see from classical wave view:

previous experiments like double slit interference, heating

barrels, etc.
•  Current vs voltage step near zero then flat.
•  Color light does not matter, only intensity.
0 Voltage
So if light is classical wave, predict that it puts energy into •  Takes time to heat up ⇒ current low and increases with time.
plate, heats up, get diode current voltage curve. •  Increase intensity, increase current.
Also takes time to heat up.
• Light on longer, heat more, e’s III. Do actual experiment, see if agrees with prediction.
out faster = more current. I vs V (current vs. voltage)
• Color (frequency) of light does not matter, 0 Voltage
How does this depends on intensity and color of light?
only intensity.

HIGH intensity

e’s e’s

First experiment- I vs. V high intensity, low intensity
Second experiment- I vs. V two different colors
voltage to turn around

most energetic electron
write down what happens “stopping potential”

0 Battery Voltage

Which graph represents low and high intensity curves?


A B HIGH intensity LOW intensity

0 Batt. V 0 Batt. V


Fewer electrons pop off metal
Current decreases.
0 Batt. V Current proportional to light intensity.
0 Batt. V

ans. B

0 Batt. V
0 Battery Voltage

HIGH intensity
Predict what happens to
LOW intensity
the initial KE of the
electrons as the frequency
of light changes? (Light
e’s intensity is constant)

Initial KE
Same KE electrons
popping off metal.
Predict shape
So same “stopping
of the graph


0 Frequency of light

0 Battery Voltage
Initial KE

Correct answer is D.
Initial KE


There is a minimum frequency

0 Frequency below which the light cannot
0 Frequency
kick out electrons…
even if wait a long time
Initial KE

Initial KE

C D As the frequency of light increases

(shorter wavelength), the KE of
Initial KE

electrons being popped off

0 Frequency 0 Frequency (it is a linear relationship)

0 Frequency of light What about different metals?

E. something different

Summary of Phot. Electric experiment results.

(play with sim to check and thoroughly understand)
Putting these together
Initial KE

1. Current linearly proportional to intensity.


high intensity
low intensity 2. Current appears with no delay.
3. Electrons only emitted if frequency of light exceeds a
0 Battery Voltage 0 Frequency of light threshold. (same as “if wavelength short enough”).
4. Maximum energy that electrons come off with increases
•  How does stopping potential (Voltage) relate to linearly with frequency (=c/wavelength).
KE (of electrons) (Max. energy = -stopping potential)
•  Precise relation in a minute: 5. Threshold frequency depends on type of metal.
–  Note: One is positive and relates to electrons (KE)
–  The other negative and what it takes to stop electrons
how do these compare with classical wave predictions?

Summary of what we know so far:
Classical wave predictions vs. experimental observations
1.  If light can kick out electron, then even smallest intensities of that
light will continue to kick out electrons. KE of electrons does not
•  Increase intensity, increase current.
depend on intensity.
experiment matches
2. Lower frequencies of light means lower initial KE of electrons
•  Current vs voltage step near zero then flat.
& KE changes linearly with frequency.
(flat part matches, but experiment has tail of energetic electrons,
energy of which depends on frequency)
3. Is minimum frequency below which light won’t kick out
•  Frequency does not matter, only intensity.
experiment shows strong dependence on frequency
(Einstein) Need “photon” picture of light to explain observations:
• Takes time to heat up ⇒ current low and increases with time. - Light comes in chunks (“particle-like”) of energy (“photon”)
experiment: electrons come out immediately, no time delay to - a photon interacts only with single electron
heat up - Photon energy depends on frequency of light, …
for lower frequencies, photon energy not enough to free an electron