Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What holds conducting electrons from flying off into vacuum

  1. Apr 4, 2012 #1
    In a conductor suspended in an external electric field, in a vacuum, what holds the conducting electrons inside the conductor? Why don't they just fly off into space, under the influence of the field? If they are free enough to move between the atoms of the conductor, this means the force from the atomic nuclei etc. is not great enough to bind them to a specific location/atom. So why is it any different at the surface?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2012 #2
  4. Apr 4, 2012 #3

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    While in the simplest approximation these electrons are considered to be "free electrons", in reality, they aren't! They still see the periodic potential of the ions of the metal. So in essence, they are still bounded to the metal. This is why we have the "work function".

    Zz.
     
  5. Apr 4, 2012 #4

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    Yes as in any sort of electronic vacuum tube. say a TV picture tube

    Dave
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: What holds conducting electrons from flying off into vacuum
  1. Fly on/off the Antennae (Replies: 11)

Loading...