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Homework Help: Wave-Particle Duality Experiment

  1. Apr 16, 2009 #1
    I placed it in here because it does have to do with homework, though it is not a numerical problem.

    The Problem

    I have to do an Extended Essay in Physics and Quantum mechanics really interest me. What I was planning on doing was doing an experiment with the Wave-Particle Duality experiment, though I do not know any questions that are answered by this, except "does light behave like a particle or wave?" Is there any other questions that someone may know that would be answered with this experiment?

    Thanks for all help in advanced.

    What is an Extended Essay (E.E.)?

    The Extended Essay (EE) is one of the requirements of the IB Diploma Programme. It is an essay of a maximum 4000 words, written on a freely-chosen topic, and provides the students with an opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic that interests them. The student writing an EE works together with a supervisor, usually a teacher, who advises and guides them in the writing process. In total, students are expected to spend about 40 hours on writing the EE, but some students use a shorter amount of time, and others a longer amount. The Extended Essay is externally assessed (graded) by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

    Although the Extended Essay may be written on a topic of the student's choice, it is recommended that it not be taken from the field of any one of the IB subjects that one is studying (e.g. while one can write about a book that has been studied as part of IB English, it must show extra research and depth). This restriction in subject choice is to encourage individual research and learning, and encourages the student to take an interest in subjects other than those studied. However, the topic must not be too broad or too narrow that it is difficult to write 4000 words, and the general subject must be taught under the IB diploma somewhere by one of the members of staff at the college (so that there is someone with expertise able to help). The subject (not topic) on which the Extended Essay is written is recommended to be one that the candidate has formally studied, but this is not required. Also, the EE may not be written across different subjects – it must concentrate on one subject only. However, some subjects include several disciplines, with an emphasis towards one. An example is the subject Environmental Systems and Societies, which can include chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. generally with an emphasis towards one discipline.

    The supervisor provides the student with assistance in putting together their EE, including guiding them in finding a suitable research question and on how to acquire the necessary resources to complete the research (such as a specific resource material–often hard-to-find documents or books–or laboratory equipment). The supervisor may suggest improvements to a version of the EE, but must not be engaged in writing it. The IBO recommends that the supervisor spend approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE. Some schools allow their students to choose a supervisor from outside their school, provided that the student appoint a teacher from inside the school to handle required administrative paperwork (such as anti-plagiarism policies).

    The Extended Essay is assessed (graded) by examiners appointed by the IBO on a scale of 0 to 36. There are "general" and "subject-specific" criteria, at a point ratio of 2:1 (24 possible points for the general criteria and 12 for the subject-specific one). This is converted into a grade from A to E. A similar system is used for Theory of Knowledge and students can gain up to 3 bonus marks for the diploma based on the grades achieved for EE and ToK. However, not submitting either of them, or achieving a grade of E in both of them constitutes a failing condition.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2009 #2


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    Wave-particle duality is a basic foundation of all of Quantum Mechanics. A particle has a wave associated with it, and a wave has a particle associated with it. It's not just photons, but everything.

    The basic experiment dealing with wave-particle duality is the double-slit experiment, wherein based on initial conditions you can recover either wave-like or particle-like behavior out of an electron, or other particle.
  4. Apr 16, 2009 #3
    I know that, I meant I was going to do the double-slit experiment, I guess I should have mentioned that, though I need a question that I am going to be exploring with the experiment. I cannot think of a question though, which is what I need help with.
  5. Apr 16, 2009 #4


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    Well, the question that the double slit experiment tries to answer is "is an electron (or other particle) a particle or a wave?"

    The usual way to find that photons are particles too is the photoelectric effect and the "quanta" of light.

    Uh...the double slit experiment can also be used to find out what kind of actions will cause wave function collapse. If wave function collapse occurs before the electrons reach the detector, then there will be no interference. Shining a light at the slits, therefore finding out which slit the electrons went through, will recover particle-like characteristics of the electrons.
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