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B Does Electromagnetic wave qualifies to become a particle?

  1. Mar 26, 2016 #1
    Hi, light as an EM wave attributes wave-particle duality. In general, are the other bandwidths of EMW (UV & IR for example) qualifies the same duality? How? Why and why not?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2016 #2


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    All frequencies of electromagnetic radiation share the same basic quantum mechanical behavior, so the quick answer to your question is "yes".

    However, you should also be aware that the entire concept of "wave-particle duality" is of dubious value. It's not exactly wrong, but it is inconsistent with the way we've formulated QM since the early days, and it can easily mislead.
  4. Mar 27, 2016 #3


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    Also, as an interesting side point, the reason you don't really hear much about low energy microwave and radio-wave photons in the scientific literature (especially compared to Infra-red and all higher energies) is because their energies are so low that we just don't have detectors that are both sensitive enough to register individual clicks at that energy, and that would be cold enough to not emit too much blackbody radiation a the same wavelength it's trying to detect.

    Using Wien's displacement law, we can find the temperature of a blackbody whose frequency spectrum has a given peak value.
    For example, a blackbody emitting photons whose peak frequency is about 10 gigahertz (microwave-band) would correspond to a temperature of about 0.2 Kelvins, which is quite cold, but we can cool a body to these sorts of temperatures with cutting edge technology ( I think the current record for a bulk object is about a hundredth of this).
    To go further into the radio-band (say 1 megahertz), you could need to cool your detector to about 0.02 milli-Kelvins, which is beyond current technological capabilities. We can cool clouds of gas much more, but this is beyond what we can (currently) do for solid objects.
    To go to the really low end of the radio-band (say 1 kilohertz) you would need to cool your detector to about 0.02 micro-Kelvins, which is barely within what we can do even with Bose-Einstein Condensates, and far far colder than what we can do for bulk objects.

    If you consider that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a temperature of the order 2 Kelvins, trying to detect radio-band photons without being overwhelmed by other sources of radiation is a problem that remains to be solved.
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