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Photon/wave relationship

  1. May 27, 2012 #1
    Question,

    For a given wavelength of light, I have assumed that there will typically exist one photon (on average) per complete wave/peak(This would mean that a train of 5 waves would contain 5 photons). I have also assumed that the photon would most likely be "found" at the peak of the wave as it passes.

    Are these fairly accurate assumptions?

    -Curious Novice.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2012 #2
    no, not at all.
     
  4. May 27, 2012 #3

    Ken G

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    Gold Member

    To expand on that, the number of "bumps" in the wave train does not control the flux of photons, that is controlled by the amplitude of the wave (the strength of the electromagnetic field, in the classical treatment, or the magnitude of the wave function, quantum mechanically). The number of cycles in the wave tells you something else-- it tells you the ratio of the wavelength of the wave to the uncertainty in the wavelength. A wave with a definite wavelength has to be infinitely long, and contain an infinite number of cycles, but since that's not really possible, instead we always have some uncertainty in the wavelength. A wave with 5 cycles has an uncertainty in wavelength that is 1/5 of the distance between crests-- but it could still represent just a single photon, and that photon could be manifested anywhere along that wave, with equal probability.
     
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