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Summary of last lecture

Space-time diagram
Energy-Mass Equivalence
Fission and fusion
Process of stellar fusion

Topic 3: Quantum Physics-I

Black Body Radiation

Photo-electric Effect
Particle-wave duality

Quantum mechanics (QM): a leading scientific paradigm

Quantum mechanics is undoubtedly one of the most important,
accurate and successful theory in science. So far, quantum
mechanics has been experimentally proven to be flawless.
Physics, chemistry, biology and most of modern technology
are all directly based on quantum mechanics.
The experimentally verified accuracy of QM, in conjunction
with special relativity, is one part in a trillion. In particular QM
is 1,000 times more accurate than Einsteins theory of general
Although it is over a century since quantum mechanics was
discovered in 1900, paradoxically enough even though one
has an operational understanding of it, till today its
foundations are not understood and remain a mystery.

Mysterious Finding 1: Radiating bodies

Heating an object makes it radiate ...


Casting iron

Color similarity

as it gets hotter the apparent color shifts

from red to orange to yellow and finally white.

There are two different phenomena involved in

this color shift. One is physical and the other
Indeed, in daily life we say red hot.
Also, it is interesting that hot items seems to
have the same or similar colors even when they
are made of different materials. The sun isnt
made of iron, isnt it? Yet the color is so similar?

Towards Black Body Radiation: EM-Waves recap

EM radiation goes by many different names:
light, x-rays, ultraviolet, infrared, microwaves,
radiowaves, -rays, ...
Physicists tend to use just light as a shorthand
and refer to the visible part of the spectrum as
visible light.
For EM-waves

= c
= wavelength
= frequency
c = speed of light

Wavelength (or frequency) and amplitude

characterize a wave.
When considering radiation, intensity is
another key measure. It is the amount of
energy emitted per surface area per

Towards Black Body Radiation: Black Body

Experimentally, one can find that all glowing objects appear to radiate identically. However,
doing measurements on e.g. hot flowers would not be very handy.
Hence, we need an idealization of a glowing object. It is called a black body since it does not
reflect any light (em-radiation) and is hence black.

A blackbody absorbs all light (radiation) that falls on it

A blackbody is in thermal equilibrium with the environment
Since it is in equilibrium, all energy absorbed is eventually reemitted
All the properties of the absorption and emission spectrum are independent of
material properties.
A black body
designed like this will
be a pretty good
approximation to the
ideal black body.
Is anything black a
good black body?

Black Body Radiation

One can now do experiments and plot the intensity of the radiation for a given temperature
versus the wavelength. What one finds indeed matches that hot objects are red, even hotter
ones orange etc.

Note that visible light is

only a small part of the

As the temperature increases, the peak of the

distribution shifts towards shorter wavelengths.
See also the applet at:

Black Body: What we see (human vision)

As objects get hotter, the apparent color shifts
from red to orange to yellow and finally white.

Does this match the spectrum and

the applet from the previous slide?

Why do we see really hot objects as white?

Are we equally sensitive to all colors?
Can we use our eyes as thermometers?

Our eyes have 3 types of

We are not equally
Our visual system
cones receptive to different
sensitive to all colors.
mixes the colors
Hence we perceive really hot objects as white since their black body spectrum contains the
right mix of light at S, M and L wavelengths (see figure above) such that our visual system
interprets it as white.

Black Body: What others see (animal vision)

Humans are trichromatic. I.e. we have color receptors for 3 different wavelengths.
There is a large variation in the number of color receptors among animals.

Mantis shrimp




Perhaps the most complex eyes

with amongst other features 12
different receptors.

Trichromatic like us but

shifted to the UV.

Most birds are

tetrachromatic. Extra
cone for UV vision.

Like most mammals,

dogs are dichromatic.


Black Body: Color temperature

We often encounter the term color temperature. An object such as a light bulb is assigned a
color temperature by comparing its visual appearance with that of a black body. The
temperature at which the color of the black body looks the most similar to the color of the
object in question is its color temperature.
CFL: Warm/Soft White < 3000
CFL: Cool white ~ 4000 K
CFL: Daylight ~5000 K
Blue star: ~10000 K
Sunlight (1h after dawn):
~3500 K
Candle: ~2000 K

CFLs come in many

different color

Surface of the sun.


Tungsten light bulb.


Do you think dogs and humans can agree on the color temperature of a light bulb?


Black Body Spectrum: Key properties

The shape of the spectrum depends only on the temperature of the object

No material property influences the spectrum

The peak of the spectrum shifts towards the blue as temperature is increased

The spectrum goes to 0 for both long and short wavelengths in a smooth fashion

The behavior is sufficiently

general that it should be
possible to fully account for
it with theoretical


Black Body Spectrum: Classical Prediction

The walls of the cavity are assumed to be small

oscillators that can emit and absorb radiation

In thermal equilibrium in a cavity only some modes of

the radiation can exist

The equipartition theorem from statistical mechanics

dictates that the energy is evenly distributed among
the modes in the cavity

Since there are many more modes with short

wavelengths than long, the expression diverges

Ultraviolet Classical prediction of the black body

catastrophe spectrum . obviously wrong!


Black Body Spectrum: Plancks solution

In classical physics, the energy of an oscillator only depends on its amplitude and it can be
arbitrarily small.
In 1900 Planck discovered that the spectrum of black body radiation can theoretically be derived
by assuming that the energy of the oscillators is an integer multiple of their frequency times a
proportionality constant. The oscillators emit radiation of a given frequency given by in terms of
the Plancks constant h
n = integer
= frequency=f (note = c)
h = proportionality constant (called Planck constant)


The outcome:

Rayleigh-Jeans law

Planck law

c = speed of light; k = Boltzmann constant; T = temperature

(incorrect classical prediction)

Line: Plancks law

c = 3 x 108 m/s
h = 6.626 x 10-34 J s

Circles: Experiment

Black Body Spectrum: Plancks solution

Planks technique worked ... but nobody knew why, not even himself. Clearly something was not
quite right with classical physics.
There was simply no excuse for quantizing the energy of the oscillators. The quantization
constant is very small so it did not immediately affect other predictions.
Planck ushered in the forthcoming quantum revolution through the introduction of

Energy quantization


h = 6.626 x 10-34 J s

Energy comes in chunks!

Next let us consider another mystery of the time: The photoelectric effect.

Planck's law of black body radiation

Radiation: a special term that refers to propagating electromagnetic
Planck's law states that
I( ,T) is the energy per unit time (or the power) radiated per
unit area of emitting surface in the normal direction per unit
solid angle per unit frequency
h is the Planck constant; c is the speed of light in a vacuum;
k is the Boltzmann constant;
is the frequency of the emitted electromagnetic radiation;
and T is the temperature of the black body in Kelvins.


Black Body Spectrum

Note the qualitative feature of the spectrum of a black body is that, for a given temperature,
there is a maxima at some value of the wavelength, or equivalently, of frequency. As the
temperature of the black body is increased, the wavelength of the maxima decreases.

Wien's Law states the value of the wavelength for which there is a maximum for the
spectrum, namely is inversely proportional to the temperature T of the blackbody. That
is, for some constant b


Black Body Spectrum: Plancks solution

Almost always, the oscillators emit one quanta of radiation of energy, namely h.
This is an extremely important observation of Planck: that at least one quanta of radiation has

to be emitted by the oscillators; for radiation of frequency an oscillator cannot emit a smaller
packet of energy than h=hc/.
Where do the oscillators get the energy to pump into radiation? Clearly from the heating that is
being applied to the oscillators. From a microscopic point of view, temperature T of a material
body is a measure of (kinetic) energy of the atoms of the body. The single quantum of radiation
draws its energy from the heat of the blackbody.
For temperature T, on the average the energy of an atom (oscillator) is kT. The single
quantum of radiation emitted carries off the thermal energy of the oscillator. Hence
= constant
A more accurate calculation yields the following

Note that the higher energy photons, which are causing the ultraviolet divergence for blackbody
radiation, are all removed from the spectrum -- since the oscillator just does not have enough
energy to emit even a single quantum of the very high frequency (small wavelength) radiation.

Mysterious Finding 2: Hertzs Observation

Hertz had a setup like shown below. He noticed that the spark in 3 is brighter if there is no
casing. The sparks are caused by electrons jumping form one side to the other.
After some investigation, Hertz realized in 1887 that a glass panel between the source of the
em-wave and the receiver in 3 reduces the sparks brightness -- while air and quartz does not -leading him to the conclusion that UV light assists the spark.

A glass plate reduces the intensity of the spark.


The Photoelectric Effect: Hallwachs Observation

Inspired by Hertzs results, Hallwachs found that a Zinc plate rapidly discharges when shone
upon by UV light. He had a setup as illustrated below:

Separated leafs indicate

If the Zn plate is
charged positively, no
rapid discharge.
If Zn plate is charged
negatively, it
discharges rapidly
under UV.

These two (Hertzs and Hallwachs) observations were reported

without much comment ... they were not really understood.

The Photoelectric Effect

The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons
from a material due to energy absorption from
incoming em-radiation.

Classically, one can imagine that an em-wave causes electrons to move (to oscillate) when
light is incident on a material with loosely bound electrons (like a metal). Then, if they move
enough they can break free.
Now, if an em-wave is shaking the electrons out of the metal, more intense light should emit
more electrons and these electrons should have more energy (higher speed).
After all, according to classical physics, the energy deposited by the light incident on the metal
depends on the amplitude of the incoming light. If light was very dim, it would take a longer time
to accumulate enough energy for the electrons to break free.

The Photoelectric Effect: Classical and quantum

Classical Prediction:

Experimental Findings:

Clearly, that is about as different as it can get! How can this be explained?

The Photoelectric Effect: Classical Prediction

So classically, we should (qualitatively) have:

The energy of the ejected
electrons increases when
the intensity of the
incoming em-radiation

The energy of the ejected

electrons should not
depend on the frequency of
the incoming em-radiation.

The lower the intensity of
the incoming em-radiation,
the longer the time delay
until electrons start to be

I: Intensity of the incoming em-radiation

K: Kinetic energy of the ejected electron
: Frequency of the incoming em-radiation
t: Time delay between start of em-radiation and first ejection of electrons


Einstein: The photon

Einstein solved, in 1905, the puzzle of the photoelectric effect by proclaiming that the radiation
field (light) consists of photons. Light, or more generally EM radiation, is constituted by
particles and that means that electromagnetic-waves are quantized.
Planck, in 1900, had considered the oscillations of the blackbody (of the electron) as being
quantized; this will be more clear when the quantum theory of the atom is understood.
Einstein made the logical connection that energy conservation requires that oscillators
emitting energy in discrete packets must be transferring energy to the radiation field; hence,
the radiation field also be quantized in order to carry off these discrete quanta of energy
being radiated by the oscillators (atoms).
The photon is the particle-like aspect of a quantum field. Since the photon travels at the
speed of light, its mass is always zero in every frame of reference.
Radiation exists as chunks (quanta) of energy. Radiation consists of particles, called photons;
the energy of a single photon with frequency is given by
Planck relation

E=nh : n photons of frequency

Light is a particle, namely photons!


Photon and Time dilation

Recall that length 0 measured in a stationary frame is measured
by a particle moving at velocity v (with respect to a rest frame) as
given by =
where =

1 2

Since = , for the photon = 0; this means there is no such

thing as space.
Time of a body moving at v is measured to be equal to in
the rest frame and given by
= : time dilation.
Similarly, the time between two events in the photons frame
is always zero giving =0.
In other words, for a photon = 0 and time is frozen and time
does not flow for the photon.
Every photon is equally old since photons do not age.
So for the photon, our concept spacetime is meaningless.


So what is the electron? A Wave or a Particle?

The (surprising) answer is that it is both! Both aspects are always there. What one sees
depends on the type of experiment. The electron is always particle when it is observed; when it
is not observed it behaves like a wave that is spread over space. One can never directly
observe the electron geing
Crookes tube


Electron well-described as a bullet

Electron diffraction off a crystal lattice

Electron well-described as a wave

Photoelectric effect


Light well-described as particles

Youngs double slit experiment

Light well-described as wave

The Photoelectric Effect: Experiments Findings

Experiments, however, showed a completely different picture. (Qualitatively) we

The energy of the ejected
electrons does not depend
on the intensity of the
incoming em-radiation.

The energy of the ejected

electrons depends on the
frequency of the incoming
em-radiation and has a

I: Intensity of the incoming em-radiation

K: Kinetic energy of the ejected electron

The time delay between
the start of the incoming
em-radiation and the
ejection of electrons is
very short and
independent of the
intensity of the incoming

: Frequency of the incoming em-radiation

t: Time delay between start of em-radiation and first ejection of electrons


The Photoelectric Effect: Einsteins Solution

Einstein solved the puzzle by proclaiming that the radiation field (light) consists of photons. I.e.
light behaves like particles and that means that means that em-waves are quantized.
Light comes as chunks with energy:

Planck relation

The electrons are bound in a metal with a certain energy. If the energy of the photon
exceeds this binding energy, it can escape, otherwise not.
The electron absorbs only one photon. Hence, the intensity of light (i.e. the number of
photons) does not change the electrons energy and the intensity of light has no impact on
the energy of the emitted electrons.
Contrary to the classical view, changing the intensity of the light (being a measure of the
number of photons) can only changes the number of the emitted electrons. The intensity
cannot change the frequency of a photon, rather it measures the number of photons for a
given frequency.
Two modern photodiodes. Photodiodes
are used in many applications such as
for example lights that automatically
switch off during the day.


Photoelectric effect: Work function

To emit an electron, the frequency of
light shining on a metal has to be
greater than the minimum frequency .
If > , then the kinetic energy of the
emitted electron K is given by
K = h
where is the work function of the metal.
is the binding energy of the electron
in the metal.
The minimum frequency is given by


NO! Light is a Wave!

Was the evidence from blackbody radiation and from the photoelectric effect enough to
convince people to abandon a wave description of light?

Not really! Compared to the range of phenomena explained by the wave theory of light, the
photoelectric effect and the blackbody spectrum were drops in a bucket. More evidence was
needed before the tension between waves and particles was resolved.


The electron is a Wave!

In the special theory of relativity, light has a momentum

given by
We also discussed the Planck relation:

Combining the two, we have for light:

We had also seen that Einstein could successfully explain the photoelectric effect by treating
light as consisting of photons and hence as particles.
In 1924, Louis de Broglie had a brain-wave and thought what
boils down to the following: If light (a wave) can be like matter (a
photon), then why cant matter (an electron) be like a wave (light)?
Indeed, if the formula p = h/ holds for light then it should also hold
for electrons.
Matter (such as electrons) has a wavelength given by:
for matter is often called de Broglie wavelength

But is this really true? Can one check that?


It really is a Wave! Sinlge-slit Electron Interference



If electrons have a wavelength,

we can treat them like light but
with a much smaller wavelength
than typical visible light

We can see this effect

in different
show diffraction
the interference
patterns typical of
waves. Therefore,
electrons must be

This is the result of the

experiment discussed


The electron is a Wave!

What's a typical wavelength for an electron, photon, etc?



For a free non-relativistic electron, = 2 . Hence = = 2

Massive particles (non-photons) have very small wavelengths.

For a truck to have the same energy as a red photon, it would have ~ v=10 -11 m/s
For a truck to have the same wavelengthas a red photon, it would have v=10 -30m/s

Electron Interference: Davison-Germer experiment

Consider a nickel crystal. Electrons are sent in one by one and the result is cumulated over time.

e det.

scatter off atoms

e e

move detector around,
see what angle electrons coming off

Reflected electron intensity has peaks: wave like interference

See peak!!
so probability of angle where to detect
Electrons is determined by interference
of de Broglie waves!

of es
e e

e det. e

Observe pattern of scattering electrons off atoms

Looks like . Wave! The electron is interfering
with itself since there is only one electron that is
spread out like a wave.



scatt. angle

PhET Sim: Davisson Germer

So what is the electron? A Wave or a Particle?

The (surprising) answer is that one can never directly observe the wave-like nature of the
electron! Both aspects are always there. How the electron behaves depends on the type of
Crookes tube


Electron well-described as a bullet

Electron diffraction off a crystal lattice

Electron well-described as a wave

Photoelectric effect


Light well-described as particles

Youngs double slit experiment

Light well-described as wave

Particle-Wave Duality
The previous slide may suggest that a photon or electron chooses to be either are particle or a
wave depending on the situation it finds itself in. This is not correct, however. It always has both
particle aspects as well as wave aspects. What the experiment determines, is which aspect is
measurable, and to what degree.
Indeed, it is experimentally possible to create a situation where both aspects are clearly present:
A modified double-slit experiment is such that single electrons (photons) are used such that there
are never two electrons (photons) in the apparatus at the same time, thus making it impossible
for them to classically interfere. The electron interferes with itself! Something that is classically

Double-slit experiment for

single electrons by

Double-slit experiment for single photons

from TU Delft.

Particle-Wave Duality: The Price Ignorance!

Nothing is for free or so the saying goes. Is there a price for photons and electrons having both
particle and wave characteristics? Yes there is! Ignorance!
It is fundamentally impossible to know which slit the photon/electron went through. It is exactly
as if it went through both slits (we will discuss this idea again in single-particle interference).
If one measures which slit the photon/electron goes through, the wave characteristic
disappears and the photon/electron behaves like a particle.


So what is the electron? A Wave or a Particle?

The electron always appears as a particle every time it is observed; when it is not observed it
behaves like a wave that is spread over space.
One can never directly observe an electron being at more than one point. Hence, one can
only infer that the electron was in a wave-like state when it was not observed.
The electron has two forms of existence, one which is wave-like, which simply means to
spread about in space, when it is not observed; the other form is particle-like, being localized to
a well defined position in space, and is the result of observation.
The crux of quantum mechanics lies in observation, namely in the process of measurement. It
is the process of measurement that connects the two forms of the electron.
A physical wave, like water wave or EM wave, which one directly observe the wave at different
points of space and each part of the wave is as physical as the rest. The wave de Broglie
introduced is another layer of superstructure into the description of Nature.
We can ask, what is the de Broglie wave? The de Broglie wave is fundamentally different from
a physical wave in that one can never directly observe it. So what is the relation of the de
Broglie wave with the electron itself? Is the electron a wave? clearly not when it is observed. Or
is the wave related to a description of the electron?
We will discuss these issues in the last lecture on quantum mechanics.