Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is a photon's momentum transverse?

  1. Aug 5, 2009 #1

    ConradDJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I understand that light propagates as a transverse wave -- does this mean that the momentum carried by a photon is perpendicular to its path?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2009 #2

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No. The momentum of a photon (and of an electromagnetic wave) is in the direction of motion.

    (Don't think of the photon as wiggling transversely as it travels; keep the classical electromagnetic wave picture and the photon picture separate.)
     
  4. Aug 5, 2009 #3
    As Doc Al states, the momentum of a photon is only in the direction of motion. If the photon strikes an electron and produces a photo electron (photoelectric effect). The transverse momentum of the electron (relative to the incoming photon direction) has to be balanced by the transverse momentum of the recoiling atom or lattice.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is a photon's momentum transverse?
  1. Transverse Momentum (Replies: 1)

  2. Transversing in rain (Replies: 5)

  3. Photon momentum vs hf? (Replies: 4)

Loading...