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Photoelectric effect and free electrons

  1. Mar 24, 2016 #1
    When we shine a light of particular color on a metal,it expells the free electrons present in the metal.In that case,doesn't the metal get ionized ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Depends on what you exactly mean by ionization. You won't be able to point to ions. There are no isolated, charged atoms, rather every single atom misses a piece of an electron.
  4. Mar 24, 2016 #3
    Can you elaborate more on that ? And you say they "miss a piece of electron", why can't that be called ionisation ?
  5. Mar 24, 2016 #4
    In a metal, the outermost electrons are delocalised rather than bound to an individual atom, so no single metal atom loses an electron.
  6. Mar 25, 2016 #5
    What do you mean by delocalised ?
  7. Mar 25, 2016 #6
    Have you tried the wikipoedia page on delocalized electrons?
  8. Mar 25, 2016 #7
    I just went through the page.I still can't get it.Even if it is delocalized,it is still a free electron that once belonged to the metal's atoms.So any way there is a losing that takes place.In that case,considering the metal to be ionized should be right,isn't it ?
  9. Mar 25, 2016 #8


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The metal will be charged unless it replaces the missing electron, but we don't say that the metal is ionized. That terms is usually reserved for single atoms and sometimes molecules.
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