The Photoelectric Effec1

The Photoelectric Effec1 - assumption, and he calculated a...

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The Photoelectric Effect In 1886 and 1887, Heinrich Hertz discovered that ultraviolet light can cause electrons to be ejected from a metal surface. According to the classical wave theory of light, the intensity of the light determines the amplitude of the wave, and so a greater light intensity should cause the electrons on the metal to oscillate more violently and to be ejected with a greater kinetic energy. In contrast, the experiment showed that the kinetic energy of the ejected electrons depends on the frequency of the light. The light intensity affects only the number of ejected electrons and not their kinetic energies. Einstein tackled the problem of the photoelectric effect in 1905. Instead of assuming that the electronic oscillators had energies given by Planck's formula ( 1 ), Einstein assumed that the radiation itself consisted of packets of energy , which are now called photons. Einstein successfully explained the photoelectric effect using this
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Unformatted text preview: assumption, and he calculated a value of close to that obtained by Planck. Two years later, Einstein showed that not only is light quantized, but so are atomic vibrations. Classical physics predicts that the molar heat capacity at constant volume ( ) of a crystal is , where is the molar gas constant. This works well for high temperatures, but for low temperatures actually falls to zero. Einstein was able to explain this result by assuming that the oscillations of atoms about their equilibrium positions are quantized according to , Planck's quantization condition for electronic oscillators. This demonstrated that the energy quantization concept was important even for a system of atoms in a crystal, which should be well-modeled by a system of masses and springs (i.e., by classical mechanics)....
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