Forgive me if this question is too simple or in the wrong place, but my texts have confused me and I need some clarification. The photoelectric effect says that photons strike a metal surface and are absorbed by outer electrons, giving them enough energy to break free and escape. So, what do we have left? Does that mean that, if we left a light shining on a piece of metal long enough, that eventually there would be a hole burned in the metal? Are these electrons replaced? What happenes to the atom? It has absorbed a photon and lost an electron. Is the total energey of the system lower or higher?