Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Compton effect does the electron radiate?

  1. May 28, 2009 #1
    In the Compton Effect, we normally treat the interaction as a billiard ball collision. It's not clear to me that this takes everything into account. If the electron ricochets off the photon, then it accelerates. Does it then radiate? If so, it seems to me that there would be additional losses not accounted for in the textbook calculations.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2009 #2

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Not really. We simply assume that conservation of energy and conservation of momentum apply, using the relativistic equations for both. Those principles don't depend on the details of the interaction.
     
  4. May 28, 2009 #3
    Either use classical or quantum mechanics, not both.

    According to classical mechanics, the electron is accelerated by an EM wave, and this does indeed cause it to radiate: and that radiation is what cancels out part of the original EM wave and constitutes the colour-shifted wave.
     
  5. May 29, 2009 #4
    Textbook calculations are usually limited to the lowest order of the perturbation theory. If you take into account also higher orders you'll see that the Compton scattering is accompanied by the emission of "soft" photons, i.e., additional energy losses.
     
  6. May 29, 2009 #5
    Isn't that the way we treat billiard balls?
     
  7. May 29, 2009 #6

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Not to dispute this, but simply to get an idea of the size of this effect... consider for example a 662 keV gamma-ray photon Compton-scattering off an electron (which is commonly studied in simple undergraduate laboratories). Roughly how much energy do these soft photons carry?
     
  8. May 29, 2009 #7

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There's a range of energies, but an estimate of the size would be of order [itex]\alpha/\pi[/itex], probably somewhat less. Perhaps hundreds of eV.
     
  9. May 29, 2009 #8
    The "range" of energies is what I'd like to understand. In this kind of motion there is no sustained oscillation giving a single frequency, but rather a spectrum of frequencies which combines to account for the motion. The energy density within this spectrum is far from equalling a single quantum of energy for any specific frequency. So what does it mean if you detect a soft photon? Does the whole frequency spectrum "collapse"? Because there is no way all the soft energy could have gone into a single frequency at the moment of collision.
     
  10. May 29, 2009 #9
    Vanadium50 gives a ballpark of several hundred eV for the soft photons. This seems really high to me. Lets just ballpark...

    The 662 keV photon has a wavelength on the order of 10 ^-12 meters. So in the COM frame, the electron has the same wavelength. This corresponds to an electron energy of approx. 1000 eV. So Vanadium's "soft photons" would carry of a very significant part of the electron energy. How would the undergraduate laboratory demonstration give the right numbers in that case?
     
  11. May 29, 2009 #10

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm just looking for an order of magnitude figure for the total energy radiated. So it's hundreds of eV compared to hundreds of keV for the incoming and scattered photon, which is on the order of 0.1% of the total energy involved in this process.

    You'd surely need pretty sensitive experiments to detect this effect, which is one reason why it's not brought up in a standard intro modern physics course. Also the theoretical analysis is a bit above the level of that kind of course.
     
  12. May 29, 2009 #11

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Suppose the photon scatters at 45 degrees. The usual Compton-scattering energy equation

    [tex]\frac {1}{E^{\prime}} - \frac {1}{E} = \frac {1}{mc^2} (1 - cos \theta)[/tex]

    gives the energy of the scattered photon as E' = 480 keV. Therefore the recoiling electron has kinetic energy 662 - 480 = 182 keV.

    A few hundred eV for the additional soft photons is a few times 0.1 keV.
     
  13. May 29, 2009 #12

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I'm also probably on the high side here as well. The other scales in the problem are all smaller, and I know that the interferences are destructive, not constructive.

    You can visualize the soft photon emission as follows: the photon scatters off the electron, sending it flying. Now that the electron has experienced an acceleration, it radiates.
     
  14. May 29, 2009 #13

    jtbell

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    A wavelength of [itex]10^{-12}[/itex] m correponds to a momentum of 1240 keV/c. For an electron, this means a (total) energy of [itex]E = \sqrt {(pc)^2 + (mc^2)^2}[/itex] = 1342 keV.

    For my example, with a scattering angle of 45 degrees, the wavelength is [itex]3.55 \times 10^{-12}[/itex] m, which leads to a (total) electron energy of 619 keV.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  15. May 29, 2009 #14
    Here is a web reference that discusses scattering of 1-eV laser photons off a 4 to 8 GeV electron beam. references to published papers on Compton scattering vertex corrections are included.
    http://www.dextermag.com/uploadedFiles/Alnico_Data_Sheet.pdf [Broken]
    The vertex corrections are less than 1%, Do a google search on "SLAC Compton Scattering" to find other similar papers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. May 29, 2009 #15

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Um...no, that's a link to an Alnico data sheet.

    The 1-loop vertex corrections are not the same as this. Indeed, this particular piece of the calculation is IR-divergent.
     
  17. May 29, 2009 #16
    As meopemuk said, there is always soft radiation with a continuous spectrum.

    The Compton scattering kinematics is similar to billiard ball one if one considers photons as particles with specific energy-momentum (quantum) relationship and the electrons as relativistic particles. But the Compton wavelength Λ=ћ/mc is written for electron as if it were a quantum wave (not a particle) and the photon were a classical wave of a given frequency (not a particle). In QED both are de Broglie waves, so their scattering is due to non linearity of QED's wave equations. Of course, the other photon modes are also excited (soft radiation). Normally their energy is within the hard photon source/detector and electron detector accuracy range (i.e. included experimentally events). It corresponds to the inclusive theoretical QED cross section. See my "Atom as a "dressed" nucleus" for the inclusive cross section physics under large-angle scattering.

    Bob_for_short.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  18. May 29, 2009 #17
  19. May 30, 2009 #18
    Thanks for checking my numbers. I see what I did wrong. (I ballparked a 10eV electron wavelength as 10^{-10}m based on the hydrogen atom, then multiplied the momentum by 100 to equate to the wavelength of the photon. Forgot to square 100 to get the energy multiplier. Still out by a factor of 10 but what the heck.)
     
  20. May 30, 2009 #19
    What is the incident gamma-ray energy uncertainty in such experiments?
    What are the gamma-detector and electron detector uncertainties?

    Bob.
     
  21. May 30, 2009 #20
    The 662 KeV gamma from Cs-137 is very precise, because the half-life of Cs-137 is many years. A gamma detector has statistical uncetainties on the energy resolution, which depends on what fraction of the photon energy is absorbed, and/or electron/holes (silicon) or photoelectrons (for NaI(Tl)) are created for each individual incident photon. In both cases (silicon and NaI(Tl)), the incident photon can create a Compton electron, and the recoil secondary photon escapes the detector. This will show up in the energy spectrum as a Compton backscatter peak at about 184 KeV.
    My first "exposure" to the 662 KeV cesium spectrum was when we received a pulse height analyzer (PHA) from the vendor in 1958, and the spectrum was still stored in the PHA core memory.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Compton effect does the electron radiate?
  1. Compton Effect (Replies: 3)

  2. Compton effect (Replies: 3)

  3. Compton effect (Replies: 3)

Loading...