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Stern-Gerlach experiment with electric field

  1. Apr 25, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I was re-studying some issues that I wanted to repeat in magnetism and the moment I saw the stern gerlach experiment again, I came up with a question: what would happen if we kept this experiment exactly the same, but this time we used electric field only, instead of magnetic field? More specifically which would be the outcome if we used neutral atoms? Electrons? Photons? Ions? Would we be able to separate different ions like Ag3+ from Ag2+? And finally can we separate ions with a normal ( with normal I mean by using magnetic field only ) stern gerlach experiment?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Separating ions of different charge has nothing to do with the idea of the Stern-Gerlach experiment.
    Charged particles will just get deflected according to their charge.

    You would need particles with a permanent electric dipole moment for the experiment. Unfortunately, I think polarizability will always win over that, if the inhomogeneous field is strong enough to see any deflection of neutral particles at all.

    Photons do not interact with an electric field in any relevant way.
  4. Apr 30, 2015 #3
    Thanks a lot for the response. In general terms that was my initial thought as well
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