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How/why does electricity make metal shiny?

  1. Dec 2, 2005 #1
    i have heard this a few places but so far no one has explaned themselfs. i'd assume it has to do something with how the atoms bond, but electrons are pretty loose with metal that why it conducts so good. so i don't get it.:confused:
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2005 #2
    I am not quite sure on what you mean by "shiny" but if you are referring to the screening of an incident E-field by the metal's conduction electrons, then your answer is : PLASMONS

    Plasmons are the particles (well quasi particles actually) that are associated with the longitudinal waves of the conduction electrons in a metal that has been submitted to incident EM-radiation.

    The conduction electrons in the metal will start to vibrate longitudinally as a response to the incident EM-radiation (ie as a reaction to the incident oscillating electrical field actually). It is this oscillation of conduction electrons that gives rise to the phase shifted reflected light of a conductor.

    The plasma frequence is that frequence above which the electrons can no longer 'follow' the oscillating incident E-field. Thus the E-field is no longer reflected but passes through the medium.

    Hope that helps,

  4. Dec 2, 2005 #3
    thanks for the info, would this book have a graphical explanation?

    CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics

    i'm thinking of asking for this for christmas, maybe a bit heavy for bathroom reading though.
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