Why photon never stop?

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I know photon has no mass, and have energy 0/0, which mean photon can have any energy. But photon can interact with matter. It also can be absorbed by electron. But these interaction, and the fraction never stop photon, nor do photon lose it energy. Why?
 

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  • #2
NewLocality
A photon cannot be absorbed by an electron, this would violate the consevation of energy. Electrons can only scatter photons, they can only be absorbed by electrons bound to quantum systems(Atoms).

Have look at the Compton effect.
 
  • #3
mathman
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Photoelectric effect is essentially an electron (within an atom) absorbing a photon.
 
  • #4
dextercioby
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mathman said:
Photoelectric effect is essentially an electron (within an atom) absorbing a photon.
I think the most important aspect is still the EMISSION OF THE ELECTRON...

What else would Einstein's rudimentary theory refer to??And besides,one usually computes [itex] \frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega} [/tex] for the emission...Pages 339-341 of 1994 (copyright) edition of Sakurai will confirm my statements...

Daniel.
 
  • #5
mathman
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Photoelectric effect is the result of a bound electron absorbing a photon and thus having enough energy to escape from its atom.
 
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dextercioby
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I'm glad you finally figured it out... :smile:

Daniel.
 
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scilover89 said:
I know photon has no mass, and have energy 0/0, which mean photon can have any energy.
How can they have any energy if the amount of energy in the universe is fixed?
 
  • #8
Astronuc
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How can they have any energy if the amount of energy in the universe is fixed?
Conservation of mass-energy.

And, we do not know that mass-energy in the universe if fixed. Most theories probably assume that - but we haven't 'seen' the entire universe.

Energy (mass-energy) is transformed.
 
  • #9
ZapperZ
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I did not originally intend to jump into this thread, but I think at this point, I should. There are several issues that need to be addressed or corrected here.

1. If you think about it carefully, it is more UNLIKELY that anything is "stopped", meaning it is actually unusual for anything in the universe to be in the same inertial frame as we are. In spite of our terrestial experience, most things and objects are NOT in our inertial frame. Therefore, what should be asked, really, is why is that object stopped, and not why an objected is not stopped, because the former is the more unusual, highly specific event.

2. Based on the rudimentary Newton's Law, to stop anything, one needs to make that object interacts with some external force or field. And object with mass m and charge q can interact with either a gravitational field or an electric field. Thus, to "stop" it, one apply either a gravitational force or an electric force in the opposite direction to its direction of motion. You can't do this with photons (no charge and no rest mass). While they do follow the spacetime curvature of gravitational fields, they don't really interact with gravity the same way as we know classically. So you have no mechanism to stop them!

3. One needs to define the word "stop". If I shoot an object into a blackbox, and the object never leaves that blackbox over a period of time, can I then say that I've "stopped" that object? If so, then one can say that one has stopped light when it never makes it out of an object. So anything that absorbes this light can be thought of as having stopped light.

4. However, in physics, #3 isn't usually defined as stopping light. This is because photon numbers are usually not conserved. Photons can be converted easily into other forms of energy, so they are really not stopped, but rather destroyed. Physics makes a distinction between these two.

5. So can light be stopped in the "physics" sense? Yes! What it means here is that the energy and phase coherence of light is preserved somewhere and then, at a later time, retransmitted without any loss. Lene Hau at Harvard has achived this several years ago.[1] For physicists, this is what is meant by stopping light.

6. In a typical photoelectric effect, the photon is NOT absorbed by an atom or an electron, resulting in the emission of that electron. Remember that a photoelectric experiment is done on SOLIDS, or more specficially, on metals as cathodes. In a metal, the conduction electrons are the ones being emitted in this effect. Conduction electrons DO NOT belong to a particular atom of the metal. The overlapping of the valence shells in a metal causes the formation of "bands" in which the valence electrons loses it's confinment to individual atoms and are now part of the whole bulk solid. So it is incorrect to think that the individual atom's atomic structure are still valid within such energy scale, especially in the usual photoelectric effect experiments.

Zz.

[1] C. Liu et al., Nature v.409, p.490 (2001).
 
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  • #10
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Thanks a lot. So, what Zapper trying to say is the photon is defined as stopped if it turn into energy. When an electron transfrom from a higher energy state to a lower one, isn't the electron emit photons? Where do the photons come from?
 
  • #11
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Why is the speed of light a universal constant ?

Why is the speed of light a universal constant ?

This is actually the same question as asking "Why photon never stop? " .
Particles mainly do not have a properties like "their speed". Their speed may change. Photons have a given speed: c.
Other massless particles also have the same speed c. This is a necessity for massless particles if SR is to be consistent.

Seems to me it is a very good question !
 
  • #12
ZapperZ
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scilover89 said:
Thanks a lot. So, what Zapper trying to say is the photon is defined as stopped if it turn into energy. When an electron transfrom from a higher energy state to a lower one, isn't the electron emit photons? Where do the photons come from?
That's not what I said! Pay attention to the #5! You don't just "absorb" a photon's energy and call that stopping light.

Secondly, electrons do NOT emit photons! It is the whole atom (nucleus + electrons) or the whole solid that emit photons upon a transition! Free electrons cannot emit and absorb photons! There are violations of conservation rules if that happens!

Thirdly, if photon number is not conserved, then not only can photon just "disappear" upon absorption, it can certainly also "appear" upon creation via an appropriate transition. Why do you think that there are selection rules for an atomic transition, for example? Not only do you need an energy transition to create a photon, but that transition must also be between approriate orbital to conserve angular momentum quantum number.

Zz.
 
  • #13
what_are_electrons
ZapperZ said:
Secondly, electrons do NOT emit photons! It is the whole atom (nucleus + electrons) or the whole solid that emit photons upon a transition! Free electrons cannot emit and absorb photons! There are violations of conservation rules if that happens!

Zz.
What is the source of the photons in a synchroton?
 
  • #14
ZapperZ
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what_are_electrons said:
What is the source of the photons in a synchroton?
1. The bending of the path of the electrons

2. The wiggler

3. The undulator

In all three cases, they require the electrons interacting with some field to cause an acceleration. In QFT language, they couple to the virtual photon fields. In none of these do they emit photons by themselves spontaneously. Free electrons, by themselves, cannot "absorb" nor "emit" photons.

Zz.
 
  • #15
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iunno, does electrons have a fixed amount of rest mass energy? or something like that.
the way i see it is that if it does then electrons emitting photons means that it is losing energy... which i does not make sense to me if it has a fixed amount of energy. no idea, tired and probably not sure what i am writing makes any sense.
 
  • #16
Gonzolo
ZapperZ said:
Free electrons, by themselves, cannot "absorb" nor "emit" photons.
Basically, as soon as photons reach the free electron, they act as a field, so the electron isn't free anymore.

And of course, a free electron won't emit because it has momentum : uniform rectilinear motion. An electron in a synchrotron is not "free".
 
  • #17
ZapperZ
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Gonzolo said:
Basically, as soon as photons reach the free electron, they act as a field, so the electron isn't free anymore.
Still, if you draw a feynman diagram, can you still terminate the photon line right at that "free" electron without the assistance of a nearby "massive" particle?

Now this is different than "beam loading" by bunches of electrons in an EM field. This phenomenon is treated classically because the EM field wavelength is considerably larger than the electron's deBroglie wavelength, and also because it involves a continuous stream of electrons and EM field. One never sees any beam-loading of a single photon by a single free electron.

Zz.
 
  • #18
Gonzolo
ZapperZ said:
Still, if you draw a feynman diagram, can you still terminate the photon line right at that "free" electron without the assistance of a nearby "massive" particle?
I'm trying to reword what your saying according to what I know from EM. I suspect Feynman diagrams and QFT are not necessary to explain this, though I would appreciate recommendations for introductory readings on the subject.
 
  • #19
ZapperZ
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Gonzolo said:
I'm trying to reword what your saying according to what I know from EM. I suspect Feynman diagrams and QFT are not necessary to explain this,
Yes it does! A "photon" being absorbed or emitted by an electron requires such a treatment. Classical E&M are utterly incapable of dealing with this phenomenon at this scale.

Zz.
 
  • #20
what_are_electrons
ZapperZ said:
Yes it does! A "photon" being absorbed or emitted by an electron requires such a treatment. Classical E&M are utterly incapable of dealing with this phenomenon at this scale.

Zz.
My reference (Nuclear and Particle Physics Source Book by McGraw) states than an electron under linear acceleration does indeed emit any EM radiation, albeit not that much. What causes this to happen?
 
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  • #21
what_are_electrons
ZapperZ said:
Yes it does! A "photon" being absorbed or emitted by an electron requires such a treatment. Classical E&M are utterly incapable of dealing with this phenomenon at this scale.

Zz.
When protons are accelerated in a synchrotron, why do they emit EM radiation? (it takes an absurd amount of power to make this happen, but happen it does) Why?
Can they also couple with virtual photons?
 
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  • #22
what_are_electrons
Definition of Emit and Absorb

What do these words mean in QFT and also EM?

Maybe it is better to ask what phenomena occur when an atom or a electron in a synchrotron "emits" or "absorbs" a photon?
 
  • #23
ZapperZ
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what_are_electrons said:
When protons are accelerated in a synchrotron, why do they emit EM radiation?
Conservation of energy.

Zz.
 
  • #24
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what_are_electrons said:
When protons are accelerated in a synchrotron, why do they emit EM radiation? (it takes an absurd amount of power to make this happen, but happen it does) Why?
Can they also couple with virtual photons?
The basic principle is conservation of energy. An incident electron is surrounded by a cloud of virtual photons. Suppose, the electron is now "forced" to move on a circular orbit. The photons will continue the path along the tangential direction (beware : this is a simplified view and therefore not entirely correct) of this circular orbit (ie : the virtual photons are emitted from the electron due to the change in direction). Thus, if you look at this continuously, photons are being emitted when the electron moves along the circular orbit. EM(electromagnetic)-radiation will be emitted if a charged particle accelerates, or when its path is changed.

This picture is described in quantum electro dynamics which is a particular QFT (quantum field theory). QED describes the EM-interactions of charged particles mediated by the virtual photons.


marlon
 
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  • #25
what_are_electrons
marlon said:
The basic principle is conservation of energy. An incident electron is surrounded by a cloud of virtual photons. Suppose, the electron is now "forced" to move on a circular orbit. The photons will continue the path along the tangential direction (beware : this is a simplified view and therefore not entirely correct) of this circular orbit (ie : the virtual photons are emitted from the electron due to the change in direction). Thus, if you look at this continuously, photons are being emitted when the electron moves along the circular orbit. EM(electromagnetic)-radiation will be emitted if a charged particle accelerates, or when its path is changed.

This picture is described in quantum electro dynamics which is a particular QFT (quantum field theory). QED describes the EM-interactions of charged particles mediated by the virtual photons.


marlon
My comment was about protons, not electrons. So, I want to be sure. Does QFT tell us that protons are also surrounded by a cloud of virtual photons? If so, are they different in energy than those around the electron?
 

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