# "Dumb" question : is there an upper bound on the energy of a photon?

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• s00mb
In summary: Yes, there is a theoretical limit to how much energy a photon can have, but it depends on the specific circumstances and processes involved.
s00mb
TL;DR Summary
Looking for an upper bound on energy of a photon.
I was wondering if anybody knew if there was an upper bound on how much energy you can pack into a photon, if such a thing exists. I'm wanting to say no there isn't but it occurred to me that I did not know the answer. Sorry if this is an absurdly easy question but I don't remember reading anywhere that said whether there was or was not one. If there was not one wouldn't that mean that you could create an extremely powerful electric and magnetic field with just a single photon? Also, wondering if anyone knew if someone recorded a record for the most high energy beam of photons? Just curious thanks for feedback! :) -James

s00mb said:
if there was an upper bound on how much energy you can pack into a photon

It depends on what kind of upper bound you mean.

Any photon is going to have to come from some process that emits energy, and how much energy can be packed into that photon is going to depend on how much energy the process that emits it can produce and pack into one photon. I don't know how much energy the most energetic photons we've ever observed from an actual process had, but it will be some finite number.

Also, if a photon has enough energy and is in the presence of other particles, it can create an electron-positron pair--or, if it has even more energy, other particle-antiparticle pairs. (Note that in vacuum this can't happen--a single photon can't create a pair, because there is no way to conserve both energy and momentum. It takes two photons to create a pair in vacuum. But in the presence of other particles that can recoil in response to the pair creation, a single photon can do it.) So once you get to high enough energies, you can't really think in terms of just photons any more, because other particles can be created.

Theoretically speaking, we know that at high enough energies, electroweak symmetry is no longer broken, and if electroweak symmetry is not broken, there are no "photons" in the sense we use the term; the set of gauge bosons for the electroweak interaction is different. So it wouldn't make any sense to think of a "photon" having energies that high because at that high an energy the theory that describes things in terms of "photons" wouldn't apply.

s00mb said:
if there was not one wouldn't that mean that you could create an extremely powerful electric and magnetic field with just a single photon?

No, because the kinds of things we call electric and magnetic fields are made up of huge numbers of photons. The phenomena associated with single photons are very different from the phenomena associated with electric and magnetic fields.

That makes sense. Mostly in reference to the comment about high energies. I knew about the process of creating photons had to be finite I was just wondering if there was a theoretical limit thank you.

berkeman
s00mb said:
thank you

You're welcome!

## 1. What is the energy of a photon?

The energy of a photon is determined by its frequency, which is directly proportional to its energy. This relationship is described by the equation E = hf, where E is energy, h is Planck's constant, and f is frequency.

## 2. Is there a limit to the energy of a photon?

According to current scientific understanding, there is no upper bound on the energy of a photon. However, the energy of a photon is limited by the energy of the system in which it is present.

## 3. Can a photon have infinite energy?

No, a photon cannot have infinite energy. As mentioned before, the energy of a photon is limited by the energy of the system in which it is present. Additionally, infinite energy is not a concept that is supported by current scientific theories.

## 4. How is the energy of a photon measured?

The energy of a photon is typically measured using a device called a spectrometer, which separates light into its different wavelengths. The energy of a photon can then be calculated using the equation E = hf, where h is Planck's constant and f is the frequency of the photon.

## 5. Can photons have negative energy?

No, photons cannot have negative energy. In physics, energy is defined as the ability to do work, and negative energy does not have any physical meaning. Photons, like all other particles, have positive energy.

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