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Part2: Photons & Matter Waves

Dr.Entesar Ganash
1. Light as a Probability Wave
The standard Version
How is light can be a wave (which spreads out over a region) in classical physics but be emitted
& absorbed as photons (which originate & disappear at points) in quantum physics?

A probabilistic description of a light wave is another way to view light. It is not only an
electromagnetic wave but also a probability wave.
1. Light as a Probability Wave

The Single-photon Version

What is a difference between those versions?

The light source in the Taylor experiment is very weak that it emits only one photon
at a time, at random intervals.

Interference fringes still generate on screen when the experiment runs enough time.

As a result of these interference fringes on the screen, we can speculate that each
photon passes from source to screen as a wave.
This wave fills up the space between source &screen & then vanishes in a photon
absorption at some point on the screen, with a transfer of energy & momentum to the
screen at that point.
1. Light as a Probability Wave

We cannot predict where this transfer will occur. But, we can predict the probability
that a transfer will occur at any given point on the screen.

Transfers will tend to occur (& thus photons will tend to be absorbed) in the regions
of the bright fringes in the interference pattern on the screen.

Hence the wave traveling from the light source to the screen is a probability
wave, which generates a pattern of "probability fringes" on the screen.
1. Light as a Probability Wave
The Single-photon, wide-Angle Version


Beam Splitter

Does a single photon travel along path 1 or path 2 (or along any other path)?
Or can it move in both directions at once?

To answer, we assume that when a molecule emits a photon, a probability wave

radiates in all directions from it.
1. Light as a Probability Wave

All three versions of the double-slit experiment can be explained by assuming the

(1) light is generated in the source as photons,

(2) light is absorbed in the detector as photons,
(3) light travels between source and detector as a probability wave.
2. Electrons & matter Waves

De Broglie stated a beam of light is a wave, but it transfers energy & momentum to
matter only at points, by photons.
What is a momentum of photon?

He suggested that p = h / might apply to photons & electrons.

De Broglie wavelength is


Small objects as electrons, protons, atoms, & molecules travel as matter waves.
However, as we consider larger & more complex objects, there must come a point at
which we are no longer justified in considering the wave nature of an object.
2. Electrons & matter Waves
To demonstrate the scattering of either x rays or electrons by crystals the following
arrangement can be used.

The scatter of x rays or electrons by the crystals produces a circular interference pattern

the pattern for the scatter of x rays the pattern for the scatter of electrons

The patterns are the same-both x rays & electrons are waves.

What is the de Broglie wavelength of an electron with a kinetic energy of I20 eV,
The rest energy of electron=0.511MeV?
3. Classification of optical processes
Light interacts with material in different methods. For example, Metals are shiny,
water is transparent. Stained glass & gemstones transmit some colours, but absorb others.
In addition, Milk appears a white colour because the molecules scatter the incident light
in different directions. Front surface Back surface

Transmitted light depends

on ?
3. Classification of optical processes

What is a velocity?

When dose the absorption occur ?

What is the relations between
transmission & absorption?
4. Optical coefficients

Coefficient of reflection or reflectivity (R)= reflected power/ incident power

Coefficient of transmission or transmissivity (T)= transmitted power/ incident power.
If there is no absorption or scattering (if medium is transparent), then by conservation of
energy we must have that:
The propagation of the beam through a transparent medium is described by the
refractive index n. n depends on f,
What is n? what is the name of this effect?

The absorption of light by an optical medium is quantified by its absorption

Coefficient ( ). This is defined as the fraction of the power absorbed in a unit
length of the medium.
z is a propagation direction
I ( z ) = I 0 e z
This is called Beers law Optical intensity at z=0
5. Complex refractive index & absorption coefficient

The absorption & refraction can be described by a single quantity called the complex
refractive index.
extinction coefficient. It is related by
The electric field is given by absorption coefficient

In none absorbing material, The wave vector (k) is

In general,


Absorption coefficient,

The vacuum wavelength.


The complex refractive index of germanium at 400 nm is given by n~ = 4.141 + i 2.215.

Calculate for germanium at 400 nm:
(a) the phase velocity of light,
(b) the absorption coefficient
Fundamental of Physics y Halliday, Resnick & Walker 2008 John Wiley & Sons, 8
Optical properties of solid state by mark fox