Photons from Electrons: Unanswered Physics Questions

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In summary, when an electron is thermally excited to a higher energy level, it quickly returns to its ground state by releasing its energy in the form of a photon(s), which is explained by the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics. The electron is coupled to the electromagnetic field and causes it to emit wiggles, which can be interpreted as photons. This process is similar to jumping on a trampoline, with the electron representing the jumper and the trampoline representing the electromagnetic field. While the exact quantum mechanical description is more complex, this analogy helps to understand the basic concept.
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Swapnil
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When you thermally excite an electron to a higher energy level, it quicky comes back to its ground state by realeasing its energy in the form of a photon(s).

We all, I assume, accept this fact. But does it make sense? How does the electron do that? I thought that the electron was an indivisible particle without any volume. Then how can it emit a photon?

Is this something that is left unexplained by physicists?
 
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According to the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics, the electron (field) is coupled to the electromagnetic field. An excited electron will cause the electromagnetic field to become wiggly, and these wiggles will travel away from the atom at the speed of light (as per Maxwells equations). These wiggles are to be interpreted as photons. The electron will no longer be excited.

Analogy: Imagine you get onto a trampoline, and you stand atop it steadily. If you represent the electron and the trampoline represents the electromagnetic field, this scenario corresponds to the atom in the ground state (electron is not excited).

Now jump (exactly once) on the trampoline. Your jumping motion represents the excited electron. If you imagine yourself jumping on an infinitely large trampoline, you should be able to convince yourself that your subsequent bounces will diminish in amplitude, as the trampoline saps energy from you. The wiggles that you create on the trampoline represent the emitted photon.

Disclaimer: This is an extremely crude picture of what goes on. The proper quantum mechanical description of this event requires the electron-proton system interacting with the quantized electromagnetic field (for spontaneous emission).
 
  • #3
Swapnil said:
When you thermally excite an electron to a higher energy level, it quicky comes back to its ground state by realeasing its energy in the form of a photon(s).

We all, I assume, accept this fact. But does it make sense? How does the electron do that? I thought that the electron was an indivisible particle without any volume. Then how can it emit a photon?

Is this something that is left unexplained by physicists?
I think that in a recent post someone else asked this question. The easy answer, as I recall, is that the atom (which includes the electron) is excited, and so the atom actually is responsible for the photon's emission.
 

Related to Photons from Electrons: Unanswered Physics Questions

1. What are photons and electrons?

Photons are particles of light that have no mass and travel in a wave-like pattern. Electrons are subatomic particles that have a negative charge and orbit the nucleus of an atom.

2. How are photons created from electrons?

When an electron gains energy, it can jump to a higher energy level within an atom. As it falls back to its original energy level, it releases a photon of light.

3. What is the relationship between photons and electrons?

Photons and electrons are both fundamental particles that make up the building blocks of matter and energy. Photons are responsible for carrying electromagnetic radiation, while electrons are responsible for electric current and chemical bonding in atoms.

4. What are some potential applications of understanding the relationship between photons and electrons?

Understanding the interaction between photons and electrons can lead to advancements in technology such as solar panels, LED lights, and lasers. It also helps scientists study the behavior of matter and energy in different environments.

5. What unanswered questions remain about photons and electrons?

There are still many unanswered questions about the behavior of photons and electrons, such as their exact nature and the mechanisms behind their interactions. Scientists also continue to study how photons and electrons can be manipulated for various applications.

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