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I Photons on a CCD Vs. the magnetic or electric vector?

  1. Apr 6, 2016 #1
    If my understanding of the theory is correct, the fact that very low light is detected on a CCD at points demonstrates light's behavior as a particle. For, if light acted as a wave in this instance, we would see not points but vectors (lines) registered on the CCD, that is, representing entire wave-fronts. My question is this. Was it expected, if the light had been detected as waves, that the wave-fronts would've been detected along their magnetic vector, their electric vector, or both (forming a cross)? The question also pertains to light waves in general. Are they thought to deliver their energy in a particular way in relation to their magnetic and electric fields?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2016 #2
    I think they both exist together. One without other is just unthinkable and impossible.
  4. Apr 7, 2016 #3


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    The direction of propagation of an EM wave in free space is perpendicular to both the electric vector and the magnetic vector. The electric vector and the magnetic vectors are perpendicular to each other. The Poynting vector, which defines the direction of energy flow, is also perpendicular to both the electric and magnetic vectors, and hence points in the direction of propagation. This Wikipedia page has some nice plots showing the above.
  5. Apr 7, 2016 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Why would this create lines on the CCD?

    I don't think that the magnetic field vector creates a force in the direction of itself.
  6. Apr 8, 2016 #5
    I think the very process of detection is basically quantum or has particulate nature. propagation can be considered as wave but it defies detection. Fields can be pictured but not so called detected. What you call detection is interaction of fields which results in motion of some objects. Devoid of objects fields just permeate through space and are not detectable.
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