Are photons affected by the strong force? The weak force?

In summary, photons can travel through an atom and interact with subatomic particles. They are not affected by the strong force, but can be affected by the weak force at high energy levels. In quantum mechanics, photons do not travel in straight paths and their interactions with atoms and subatomic particles are determined by probability and energy levels. The photoelectric effect is not an atomic reaction, but a reaction in a solid where electrons behave as a collective.
  • #1
potmobius
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Can light travel through an atom? If yes, how will it emerge? If no, why not? Will it interact with any subatomic particles?
 
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  • #2
I'm inclined to believe that photons, being the electromagnetic force carriers, aren't affected by any other forces. but then, this is not really my field. haha, excuse the pun.
 
  • #3
hahaha. I'm still a novice at physics, but I'm fascinated by it, and questions like these just seem to pop up into my head every now and then, for no apparent reason! Anyways, I thought photons might be affected by the electrons in the atom, as they might increase the electrons' energy to throw them out of the atom... photoelectric effect, anyone? But, assuming that the incident photons on an atom do manage to make it past the electron cloud without interacting with them, how would they react when they hit the nucleus?
 
  • #4
potmobius said:
Can light travel through an atom? If yes, how will it emerge? If no, why not? Will it interact with any subatomic particles?
Many nuclei have photonuclear reactions, such as (photon,neutron) or (photon, alpha particle). For example, photons above about 20 MeV on oxygen-16 will knock a neutron out, leaving radioactive oxygen-15. The cross section is typically a few millibarns.
For comparison, the nuclear size (radius) for oxygen is about R=1.3A1/3 x 10-13 cm = 3.2 x 10-13 cm, so geometric area = 0.33 barns.
 
  • #5
potmobius said:
hahaha. I'm still a novice at physics, but I'm fascinated by it, and questions like these just seem to pop up into my head every now and then, for no apparent reason! Anyways, I thought photons might be affected by the electrons in the atom, as they might increase the electrons' energy to throw them out of the atom... photoelectric effect, anyone? But, assuming that the incident photons on an atom do manage to make it past the electron cloud without interacting with them, how would they react when they hit the nucleus?
Yeah, but that's an electromagnetic interaction. Photons are not affected by the strong force.

I think they would be affected by the weak force, since the W bosons (carriers of the weak force) are charged. I don't know enough offhand to describe that in detail, though.
 
  • #6
if the energy levels were high enough the electromagnetic and weak forces would unify, so it wouldn't be surprising if, in those conditions, and photon could conceivably be affected by the... well not really weak force, rather the elctroweak force
 
  • #7
diazona said:
Yeah, but that's an electromagnetic interaction. Photons are not affected by the strong force.

I think they would be affected by the weak force, since the W bosons (carriers of the weak force) are charged. I don't know enough offhand to describe that in detail, though.

Photons will not interact with those at these energy scales though, this is why one needs electroweak unification at very very high energies.
 
  • #8
potmobius said:
hahaha. I'm still a novice at physics, but I'm fascinated by it, and questions like these just seem to pop up into my head every now and then, for no apparent reason! Anyways, I thought photons might be affected by the electrons in the atom, as they might increase the electrons' energy to throw them out of the atom... photoelectric effect, anyone? But, assuming that the incident photons on an atom do manage to make it past the electron cloud without interacting with them, how would they react when they hit the nucleus?

photoelectric effect is not a atomic reaction, but a reaction in a solid where the electrons behaves as a collective.

Here are some resources

http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/RadiationSafety/theory/interaction.htm

http://www.sciencemadness.org/lanl1_a/lib-www/la-pubs/00326397.pdf
 
  • #9
potmobius said:
Can light travel through an atom?

Of course it can. Can you see through glass?
 
  • #10
okay, so light travels through an atom... let's go deeper into it. How? I want to know exactly how it passes through an atom... does it just go straight through the nucleus and the electrons, without anything affecting it? or does it pass through the vacuum inside an atom? Does it travel in a straight path? Is there any reflection/refraction/deviation?


Vanadium 50 said:
Of course it can. Can you see through glass?

Yes, we can see through glass. If the answer was this simple, i wouldn't have posted it in the quantum mechanics section :biggrin: We can see through glass... then why can't we completely see through a photographic plate, or butterpaper, or a diamond?
 
  • #11
i) In QM, photons do not go straight lines, we don't have defined paths in quantum mechanics. Particles are not tiny tiny balls, and the atom is not a tiny tiny solar system. Photons do not "travel through atoms"

ii) Interactions and processes are deterministic, the photon has a certain probability to interact with the atom/electron/nucleus. The probability is a function of energy and material etc.

iii) Interactions in matter is not atomic feature but solid, the electronsm behave as collective -> constituting a energy band (in atom we have energy levels/lines)

What you are asking doesn't make sense in a QM point of view. In QM sense we have two basic ingredients: 1) probability of outcome 2) energy bands

Glass have an energy band in the optic spectra, wheras some other material don't.
 
  • #12
I did anticipate an answer like this :P So then, what field does this question make sense in? Is it even possible to answer my question using QM?
 
  • #13
yes QM, but in QM we don't have particles traveling around like tiny balls...
 
  • #14
okay, explain it using the QM model with waves, and the energy/material uncertainty, or whatever it is...
 
  • #15
potmobius said:
okay, explain it using the QM model with waves, and the energy/material uncertainty, or whatever it is...

i just told you the basics, the photon has a probability to interact with matter as a function of its energy.
 
  • #16
malawi_glenn said:
photoelectric effect is not a atomic reaction, but a reaction in a solid where the electrons behaves as a collective.
Photons can knock an electron out of a single atom of gas, with the only final state components being a photoelectron, and a recoil ionized atom. One example would be a 15-eV UV photon ionizing a gaseus hydrogen atom, with a photoelectron and a recoil proton in the final state.
 
  • #17
Can light travel through an atom? If yes, how will it emerge? If no, why not? Will it interact with any subatomic particles?

Good question. Simple questions often have no simple answers. This is one. One could possibly write a book in reply. If you are looking for a purely quantum mechanical explanation read no further as I don't know theoretical QM at that level of detail. Your question is posed in classical terms but is under QM so I'm not sure if you realize the overlap between different fundamental theories. Quantum field theories for the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force have been developed, the former called quantum chromodynamics and might be of interest to you.

A classical analogy would be to ask "does light travel through the Earth sun complex?" think of the sun as the nucleus the Earth as an electron...atoms are 99% (illustrative number only) empty like this system. so usually light DOES usually pass through an atom in this sense...it passes through the "vacuum" as you posted. (but it is NOT a vacuum). And the phton NEVER goes exactly STRAIGHT through because each photon IS deflected every so slightly by gravity...say of the nucleus, but that's not measureable.

Another reasonable answer is that photons interact with materials (atoms) in a number of different ways which depends both on the energy of the photon and the nature of the material. Some materials reflect most light , others are translucent like glass (pass most light) yet can also "bend" (focus) light like a concave glass lense, other materials are opaque and others exhibit the photo electric effect. Each affects light (photons) a bit differently.
In quantum mechanics, since a photon is likely to bring an atom into a firm state if it wasn't already ( collapsing the wave function in one interpretation) likely the photon can't "travel through" in the classical sense, but the actual result as noted by others is statistical in nature.

The strong force affects quarks, the weak force radioactive decay, the electromagnetic force charged particles; a photon is none of these but IS affected by the gravitational force. See gravitational lensing which CAN be measured.

You can also look up COMPTON SCATTERING in wikipedia, for example, for related interactions...and note the wave particle duality...
 
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  • #18
Bob S said:
Photons can knock an electron out of a single atom of gas, with the only final state components being a photoelectron, and a recoil ionized atom. One example would be a 15-eV UV photon ionizing a gaseus hydrogen atom, with a photoelectron and a recoil proton in the final state.

But that we call Ionizing ;-)
 
  • #19
malawi_glenn said:
But that we call Ionizing ;-)
In some (most) physics books, photon scattering off an electron (with a photon in final state) is called Compton scattering, and photoelectric when there is no secondary photon. Accelerator builders are now acceleratiing H-minus beams; a single proton with two electrons. The H-minus atom has charge of minus one. A 2-eV photon (red laser) can knock off one electron, leaving a photoelectron and a neutral hydrogen atom. Would you call this a de-ionizing reaction? See
http://neutrons.ornl.gov/aboutsns/how_sns_work.shtml
 
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  • #20
What is the difference of photoelectric effect and ionization then?
 

1. Are photons affected by the strong force?

No, photons are not affected by the strong force. They do not have a color charge and therefore do not interact with gluons, which are the carriers of the strong force.

2. Are photons affected by the weak force?

Yes, photons can be affected by the weak force in certain situations. This is because they can interact with particles that have a weak charge, such as W and Z bosons.

3. How can photons interact with the weak force if they have no mass?

The interaction between photons and the weak force is known as the electroweak interaction. This is possible because the weak force is not solely dependent on mass, but also on other properties such as electric charge and weak charge.

4. Can photons carry the strong force?

No, photons do not carry the strong force. As mentioned earlier, they do not have a color charge and therefore cannot interact with gluons, which are the carriers of the strong force.

5. Do photons play a role in nuclear interactions?

Yes, photons can play a role in nuclear interactions through the process of nuclear photoexcitation. This occurs when a photon is absorbed by an atomic nucleus, causing it to become excited and potentially undergo a nuclear reaction.

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