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DATE:

19/2/15

PRACTICAL #:

TITLE:

PLANCK'S CONSTANT

AIM:

To measure Planck's Constant using a light emitting diode


(LED).

APPARATUS/MATERIALS: breadboard, connecting wires, Light Emitting Diode (LED),


ammeter, voltmeter, power supply, current limiting resistor.

DIAGRAM:

DIAGRAM SHOWING THE CIRCUIT SET UP TO DETERMINE PLANCK'S CONSTANT

THEORY:
LEDs are semiconductors that emit electromagnetic radiation within or near optical
frequencies when a voltage is applied across them (in forward bias).
As each electron moves through a light emitting diode (LED), a quanta of energy is
released due to the recombination of an electron with a hole. This produces photons
each having discreet energy given by

E=hf =

hc

--eq 1

Where h is the Plancks constant, f is the frequency of emitted light, is the


wavelength of the emitted light, c is the speed of light.
From the law of conservation of energy the electrical energy from the power supply
is converted into light energy and heat energy due to resistance within the LED
itself. That is:
Electrical Energy = Light Energy + Heat Energy

IVt=N

hc
+ mc T

-- eq 2

--eq 3

Where I
is the current flowing through the LED, V is the potential difference
across the LED, N is the number of photons emitted in time t, m is the mass of the
LED bulbs, c is the specific heat capacity f the bulb, T is the change in temperature
across the bulb.
Because multiple states may be excited by increasing the voltage across a diode,
photons of increasing energies will be emitted with increasing voltage. Thus the
light emitted by an LED may span a range of discrete wavelengths that decrease
with increasing voltage above the threshold voltage (shorter wavelength = higher
energy).
We are interested in the maximum wavelength that is determined by the minimum
energy needed to just to create an electron hole pair. It is numerically equal to the
turn on voltage of the LED. If the LED is just turned on for a short time, heat energy
T is negligible, equation (3) becomes:

I V MIN t=N

hc

--eq4

For one photon released by an electron, the current flowing for time, t, is I =e/t.
Hence (4) becomes:

e V MIN =

METHOD:

hc
hc
V MIN =

1). The circuit was set up as seen in the diagram.


2). The switch in the circuit was closed and the current was
increased until the LED emitted a light.
3). The following were recorded:
a. A value for the current flowing in the current-limiting
resistor and LED,
b. A value for the potential difference across the LEDResistor combination.
4). It was assumed the charge on the electron was e = 1.6 x 10 19
C and the following were calculated:
c. The energy lost by one electron as it moves through the
LED-Resistor
combination,
d. The number of electrons flowing through the LED every
second.
5). Steps 2 and 3(b) were repeated with the LEDs of different
colours for 7 sets of Vmin.
6). Table 1 showed the corresponding wavelength for the LEDs
used.

7). A graph of Vmin against 1/ was plotted and the graph was
used to find the value of h suggested by the data above.

VARIABLES:

Manipulated Variable: The LEDs used, the current


Responding Variable: The voltage and colour of LED
Controlled Variable: Current flowing through LED and resistor

RESULTS:
TABLE SHOWING THE WAVELENGTH, COLOUR, VOLTAGE AND CURRENT OF LIGHT
EMITTING DIODES
Voltage, V / V
1.90
1.99
2.03
2.28
2.54
2.84

Ammeter, A /
A
0.95
0.95
0.95
0.95
0.95
0.95

Colour
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Violet

Charge on electron, e = 1.6 x 10-19 C


Speed of Light, c = 3.0 x 108 ms-1

CALCULATIONS:
Slope of V against 1/
(2.375 x 106 , 2.725) , (1.5625 x 106 , 1.9375)

gradient ,m=

m=

y 2 y 1
x 2x 1

3.001.375
2.50 1061.15 10 6

Wavelength of
Light, / m
6.60 x 10-7
6.20 x 10-7
5.95 x 10-7
5.72 x 10-7
4.70 x 10-7
4.00 x 10-7

1/
m-1
1.52 x 106
1.61 x 106
1.68 x 106
1.75 x 106
2.13 x 106
2.50 x 106

m=

1.625
6
1.35 10

m=1.20 10

Red Light

N 0.95 1.90 6.60 107


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 108

Planck's Constant, h
gradient, m = 1.20 x 10-6 Vm
electron charge, e = 1.6 x 10-19 C
Speed of light, c = 3.0 x 108 ms-1

m=

= 1.1913 x 10-6 / 1.986 x 10-25


= 6.00 x 1018 Electrons per
second
Orange Light

N 0.95 1.99 6.2 107


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 10 8

hc
e

= 1.17211 x10

25

h 3.0 10
19
1.6 10

h=

/ 1.986 x 10-

=5.90 x 1018 Electrons per


second
Yellow Light

1.20 10 =

-6

N 0.95 2.03 5.95 107


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 108

19

1.20 10 1.6 10
3.0 10 8

h=6.4 1034 Js
-25

= 1.1474575 x 10-6 / 1.986 x

10
Energy lost by one electron as it moves through
= 5.78 x 1018 Electrons per
the LED-Resistor Combination
second
Green Light
E = eV
Red Light
V = 1.90 V
E = -1.6 x 10-19 1.90
= -3.04 x 10-19 J
Orange Light
V = 1.90 V
E = -1.6 x 10-19 1.99
= -3.18 x 10 -19 J
Yellow Light
V = 2.03 V
E = -1.6 x 10-19 2.03
= -3.25 x 10-19 J
Green Light
V = 2.28 V
E = -1.6 x 10-19 2.28
= -3.65 x 10-19 J

N 0.95 2.28 5.72 107


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 108

10

-25

= 1.238952 x 10-6 / 1.986 x

= 6.24 x 1018 Electrons per


second
Blue Light

N 0.95 2.54 4.70 107


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 108

25

= 1.13411 x 10-6 / 1.986 x 10-

= 5.71 x 1018 Electrons per


second
Violet Light
7

N 0.95 2.84 4.00 10


=
t 6.62 1034 3.0 108

Blue Light
V = 2.54 V
E = -1.6 x 10-19 2.54
= -4.06 x 10-19 J
Violet Light
V = 2.84
E = -1.6 x 10-19 2.84
= -4.54 x 10-19 J
Number of Electrons per second flowing through
the LED

I V min t=N

I V min =

hc

N hc

N I V min
=
t
hc
DISCUSSION:

When the power supply was turned on and the current was
adjusted so that the LED would emit a light of at a minimum
voltage, Vmin. The minimum voltage and the current were
recorded and 1/ for each wavelength of visible light was
calculated. A graph of minimum voltage against 1/ was plotted
and a straight line of best fit was drawn. The gradient was
calculated to be 1.20 x 10-6 Vm with y-intercept of zero. Using
the equation:

m=

hc
e , the value for Planck's constant was

calculated to 6.40 x 10-34 VCs which is close to the theoretical


value of 6.62 x 10-34 with a 3.32% error. The difference in the
values is very small and could be due to errors in the
experiment. The energy lost by electrons for the red, orange,
yellow, green, blue and violet light was calculated using the
equation: E = eV, as 3.04 x 10-19 J, 3.18 x 10-19 J, 3.25 x 10-19 J,
3.65 x 10-19 J, 4.06 x 10-19 J and 4.54 x 10-19 J respectively. The
number of electrons per second flowing through the LED was
calculated using the equation:

N I V min
=
, as 6.00 x 1018, 5.9
t
hc

x 1018, 5.78 x 1018, 6.24 x 1018, 5.71 x 1018 and 5.43 x 1018
electrons per second respectively.

SOURCE OF ERRORS:
1). Fluctuations on the ammeter and voltmeter made it
difficult to determine the exact value for the current and
voltage.
2). Error in over-adjusting the current to get the minimum
voltage.

PRECAUTIONS:

1). Take care in adjusting the current to prevent the LED getting
damaged.
2). Ensure to turn off the power supply on the breadboard
before changing the LED.

CONCLUSION:

The value for Planck's Constant was calculated to be 6.40 x 10 34


Js, the percentage error calculated for Planck's Constant was
3.32%. The value for the energy lost by the electrons red,
orange, yellow, green, blue and violet light was calculated to be
3.04 x 10-19 J, 3.18 x 10-19 J, 3.25 x 10-19 J, 3.65 x 10-19 J, 4.06 x
10-19 J and 4.54 x 10-19 J respectively. The value for the number
of electrons flowing through the LED per second was calculated
to be 6.00 x 1018, 5.9 x 1018, 5.78 x 1018, 6.24 x 1018, 5.71 x 1018
and 5.43 x 1018 electrons per second respectively.