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Is a Photon a standing wave?

  1. Jun 4, 2015 #1
    standing wave
    noun: standing wave; plural noun: standing waves
    a vibration of a system in which some particular points remain fixed while others between them vibrate with the maximum amplitude.


    As a Photon gains or looses energy it's maximum amplitude would change? I've never heard them be referred to standing waves before, I only heard of this kind of wave recently because Microwaves have it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2015 #2
  4. Jun 4, 2015 #3


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    A photon is a quantum particle and a wave is an essentially classical construct. A photon doesn't 'wiggle about' and neither is it a tiny bullet. If you have just one photon (sourced by a single atom) it doesn't constitute a wave. Where the wave idea comes in is that the wave will describe the probability of finding that photon in a particular place. In a standing wave, you will detect many more photons if you put a detector at an antinode than if you put it in a node so the 'amplitude' relates to the number of photons and not the 'size' of a particular photon. It is fruitless to try to tie the two ideas too closely together. It took many decades to get things sorted out in that respect and Physics has moved on.
  5. Jun 4, 2015 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Furthermore, a photon moves, so it is clearly not a standing wave, which is stationary.
  6. Jun 4, 2015 #5
    So, a Soliton can't be a standing wave then?
  7. Jun 4, 2015 #6
    A soliton is a travelling pulse, isn't it?
    What are you trying to find out actually with these questions? Do you have something specific in mind?
  8. Jun 4, 2015 #7
    Nothing in particular, I misunderstood what a soliton was I guess. Just one question too, I'm not OP
  9. Jun 4, 2015 #8
    Oh, sorry. You are not OP, indeed. :)

    Solitons are an example o nonlinear waves.
    First observed on some canal in UK, as a single pulse moving fast and without changing shape much.
    The Wiki entry can tell you more.
  10. Jun 4, 2015 #9
    I see, I completely misunderstood. I'm sorry for my off-topic post, I thought it was on-topic.
  11. Jun 5, 2015 #10
    A photon is both a wave and a particle, I thought maybe the wave stands still whilst the particle moves, that's all.
  12. Jun 5, 2015 #11
    The photon is neither. Wave and particle are classical concepts which apply only approximately to a photon.
    But you can understand a lot about light by studying just classical wave theory.
  13. Jun 6, 2015 #12


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    No. A flux of EM energy can be described as a wave and it can also be described in terms of photons; that's not what your statement implies here. I think it is important not to try to look at photons a little wiggly (wavelike) entities; that is just not QM. Use the word photon and you should chuck out pretty well everything you think you know about EM - certainly do not try to come to conclusions by following that path.
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