Can you ionize metal with photons?

In summary, the photoelectric effect occurs when light causes electrons to fly off atoms, resulting in a net charge of 0 for the atom. If a piece of metal is left in the sun for a long time, a large number of electrons will fly off, giving the exposed part of the metal a positive net charge. This is known as the charging effect, where isolated materials undergoing photoemission become charged. However, visible light does not typically have enough energy to cause this effect on metals, and any charge can be balanced out by other sources.
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IAmAnthony
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The photoelectric effect occurs when light causes electrons to fly off atoms. An equal number of electrons to protons gives an atom a net charge of 0. If I left a piece of metal in the sun for a long time, that would mean a large number of electrons would fly off. This should, in theory, give the part of the metal exposed to sunlight a positive net charge

NOTE: Although I say in theory, the purpose of this post is not to debate a theory. Rather, I am trying to understand a question that I cannot resolve.
 
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IAmAnthony said:
The photoelectric effect occurs when light causes electrons to fly off atoms. An equal number of electrons to protons gives an atom a net charge of 0. If I left a piece of metal in the sun for a long time, that would mean a large number of electrons would fly off. This should, in theory, give the part of the metal exposed to sunlight a positive net charge

NOTE: Although I say in theory, the purpose of this post is not to debate a theory. Rather, I am trying to understand a question that I cannot resolve.

When I did photoemission spectroscopy experiments many years ago, we have to make very sure that the photocathode is properly grounded. If not, we will run into what is known as the charging effect, i.e. the material that we want to study (i.e. the photocathode) becomes charged because it cannot replenish the electrons lost via photoemission.

So yes, something that is isolated (metal, semiconductor) and undergoes photoemission WILL become charged.

A metal left in the sun, if it is just the visible spectrum, will not typically be charged because visible light does not have enough energy to overcome the typical work function of a metal. Besides, a charge metal left out in the open can usually grab charges from other things in the air or from cosmic radiation.

Zz.
 
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1. Can photons ionize metal?

Yes, photons can ionize metal. When a photon with enough energy strikes a metal atom, it can knock off one or more electrons, creating a positively charged ion.

2. How does the ionization of metal by photons occur?

The ionization of metal by photons occurs through a process called photoionization. When a photon with enough energy is absorbed by a metal atom, it causes the atom's electrons to become excited and break free from the atom's nucleus.

3. What factors affect the ability of photons to ionize metal?

The main factors that affect the ability of photons to ionize metal include the energy of the photons, the type of metal being ionized, and the number of photons bombarding the metal per unit of time.

4. Can all metals be ionized by photons?

No, not all metals can be ionized by photons. The ability of photons to ionize metal depends on the metal's ionization energy, which is the amount of energy needed to remove an electron from the metal atom. Metals with higher ionization energies require more energetic photons to be ionized.

5. What are some practical applications of ionizing metal with photons?

The ability to ionize metal with photons has many practical applications in various fields, including materials science, electronics, and energy production. For example, it can be used in the production of microchips, solar cells, and in nuclear reactors to produce energy.

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