<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Visible light

The range of photon energies for visible light    from red to violet is 1.63 to 3.26 eV, respectively (left for this chapter’s Problems and Exercises to verify). These energies are on the order of those between outer electron shells in atoms and molecules. This means that these photons can be absorbed by atoms and molecules. A single photon can actually stimulate the retina, for example, by altering a receptor molecule that then triggers a nerve impulse. Photons can be absorbed or emitted only by atoms and molecules that have precisely the correct quantized energy step to do so. For example, if a red photon of frequency f size 12{f} {} encounters a molecule that has an energy step, Δ E , size 12{ΔE} {} equal to hf , size 12{ ital "hf"} {} then the photon can be absorbed. Violet flowers absorb red and reflect violet; this implies there is no energy step between levels in the receptor molecule equal to the violet photon’s energy, but there is an energy step for the red.

There are some noticeable differences in the characteristics of light between the two ends of the visible spectrum that are due to photon energies. Red light has insufficient photon energy to expose most black-and-white film, and it is thus used to illuminate darkrooms where such film is developed. Since violet light has a higher photon energy, dyes that absorb violet tend to fade more quickly than those that do not. (See [link] .) Take a look at some faded color posters in a storefront some time, and you will notice that the blues and violets are the last to fade. This is because other dyes, such as red and green dyes, absorb blue and violet photons, the higher energies of which break up their weakly bound molecules. (Complex molecules such as those in dyes and DNA tend to be weakly bound.) Blue and violet dyes reflect those colors and, therefore, do not absorb these more energetic photons, thus suffering less molecular damage.

Photograph of a worn-out movie advertisement poster on a wall.
Why do the reds, yellows, and greens fade before the blues and violets when exposed to the Sun, as with this poster? The answer is related to photon energy. (credit: Deb Collins, Flickr)

Transparent materials, such as some glasses, do not absorb any visible light, because there is no energy step in the atoms or molecules that could absorb the light. Since individual photons interact with individual atoms, it is nearly impossible to have two photons absorbed simultaneously to reach a large energy step. Because of its lower photon energy, visible light can sometimes pass through many kilometers of a substance, while higher frequencies like UV, x ray, and γ size 12{γ} {} rays are absorbed, because they have sufficient photon energy to ionize the material.

How many photons per second does a typical light bulb produce?

Assuming that 10.0% of a 100-W light bulb’s energy output is in the visible range (typical for incandescent bulbs) with an average wavelength of 580 nm, calculate the number of visible photons emitted per second.

Strategy

Power is energy per unit time, and so if we can find the energy per photon, we can determine the number of photons per second. This will best be done in joules, since power is given in watts, which are joules per second.

Solution

The power in visible light production is 10.0% of 100 W, or 10.0 J/s. The energy of the average visible photon is found by substituting the given average wavelength into the formula

E = hc λ . size 12{E = { { ital "hc"} over {λ} } } {}

This produces

E = ( 6 . 63 × 10 –34 J s ) ( 3.00 × 10 8 m/s ) 580 × 10 –9 m = 3.43 × 10 –19 J . size 12{E = { { \( 6 "." "63 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{"–34"} } " J " cdot " s" \) \( 3 "." "00 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{8} } " m/s" \) } over {"580 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{"–9"} } " m"} } =" 3" "." "43 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{"–19"} } " J"} {}

The number of visible photons per second is thus

photon/s = 10.0 J/s 3 . 43 × 10 –19 J/photon = 2.92 × 10 19 photon/s . size 12{"photon/s "= { {" 10" "." "0 J/s"} over {3 "." "43" times " 10" rSup { size 8{"–19"} } " J/photon"} } =" 2" "." "92 " times " 10" rSup { size 8{"19"} } " photon/s"} {}

Discussion

This incredible number of photons per second is verification that individual photons are insignificant in ordinary human experience. It is also a verification of the correspondence principle—on the macroscopic scale, quantization becomes essentially continuous or classical. Finally, there are so many photons emitted by a 100-W lightbulb that it can be seen by the unaided eye many kilometers away.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

What are the two major system units in the world
Jizel Reply
What is physical quantities
Jizel
they are physical properties that can be measured or calculated
ZIFAC
Do you mean the SI system and Imperial system? SI is used by scientists the world over (with notable exception being the USA)
Who is the father of physics
Gabriel Reply
Newton.Geliliyo and Einstein is called father of physics
Neha
Newtin
Jizel
Einstein
Jizel
Ancient - Archimedes Classical Physics - Newton Modern Physics - Einstein But each of these has built on the work of predecessors. No single personality defines physics.
Thanks
Hussain
Galileo Galilie must be. He was the creator of the scientific method
Vincent
Galileo was no doubt inspirational, but the scientific method has existed for millennia. What Galileo did was prove the superiority of experimentation to just thinking (Aristotle's way). Again all noteworthy scientists
Newton galileo and Einstein
Gabriel
what is wave
Charity Reply
a wave is a distirbance that transmits energy from one place ro another within or without a medium
Vincent
wave is the transfer of energy from one medium to another without the transfer of particles
ZIFAC
wave is a disturbance which transfer energy from one medium to another without causing any permanent displacement by itself
Joyfulsounds
wave is a disturbance or oscillation that travel through space and matter,accompanied by a transfer of energy
Ridwan
A wave is any disturbances in an elastic medium which carries energy from one point to another through a medium
abdul
what is harmonic motion
Nozyani
is a restoring force
Joyfulsounds
a wave is a disturbance and there are trasfer energy from one medium to another and travel through any space without the trasfer of particles.
Neha
a wave is a disturbance that travels or carries energy from one point to another through a medium
Wisdom
A moving disturbance in the level of a body water, undulation
Jizel
what is thermodynamics
Williams Reply
what is thermodynamics
Charity
thermodynamics is a heat and energy significant physics
Neha
Relating to the conversation of heat into other forms of energy
Jizel
It's the science of conversion between heat and other forms of energy
ZIFAC
Are the antimatters of Hadrons also Hadrons?!Does the same rule apply to Leptons?
Daniel Reply
yes. Hadrons are the elementary particles that take part in stong, electromagnetic and weak interactions. Infact only Hadrons are involved in Strong interactions and when an anti-particle of any hadron is produced, it would be a hadron-conservations laws. Leptons are involved in weak int and follow
Lalita
what is physics
Sade
physic is a pure science that deal with behavior of matter,energy & how it related to other physical properties
Ridwan
Owk. But am are Art student.
Hussaini
Thanks a lot,Lalita
Daniel
what are the differences between reflection and refraction ?
Matins
What happens when an aeroplanes window is opened at cruise altitude?
Theophilus Reply
what is the minimum speed for any object to travel in time?
Pankaj Reply
as per theory of relativity, minimum speed will be the speed of light
Mr.
what is physics
Lote Reply
it is just a branch of science which deals with the reasons behind the daily activities taking place everyday in our lives. it clearly states the reason in the form of laws.
sandhya
?
lkpostpost2000@yahoo
like Newton's laws , Kepler's laws etc....
sandhya
physics is the study of motion or moving things. Usually the moving things are normal items like vars or planets but sometimes it's electricity or heat that moves.
Jake
physics is one of the most significant diciplines of natural science which describe the nature and its matter
Neha
I would describe it as the science that is interested in the fundamental laws of nature. For example, what is light, what is sound, what is electricity/magentism, what forces are at work on a specific body. The knowledge of the world around us makes it possible to fly, have cell phones, GPS, etc.
Robyn
what happens when an aeroplane takes off?
Kofi Reply
it flies
Mr.
the lift generated by the wing overcome the weight of the plane(in Newton)and a net force of upward is created
Phebilia
it is a direct application of Magnus effect (which helps in throwing curve balls) the wings of plane are made in such a way that the net flow of air is more below them rather than on their upper side. So when the plane accelerates, the flaps produce the upward lift when enough velocity is obtained
Mr.
then due to lower pressure on upper part of wings helps producing an additional lift because air flows from areaof lower to the area of higher pressure
Mr.
The engines located under the wings generate thrust .. in relation thrust is a force ... which ovwrcomes or becomes greater than the weight of the plane.. remember weight is a force Weight = m x g-2 So therefore F(thrust) becomes greater than F(weight) Even if by 1Newton the plane starts lifting o
Theophilus
what happens when a ship moves
Williams
What is the sign of an acceleration that reduces the magnitude of a negative velocity? Of a positive velocity?
Conwil Reply
If it reduces the magnitude of the velocity, the acceleration sign is the opposite compared to the velocity.
Nicolas
yes
Williams
what is accerelation
John Reply
an objects tendency to speed up over time
RayRay
acceleration is the change in velocity over the change in time it would be written delta-v over delta-t.
Shii
the change in velocity V over a period of time T.
Matthew
Delta means "change in"...not period of
Shii
just kidding. it all works mathematically
Shii
except doesn't time really only change if the instantaneous speeds vary...?
Shii
and I assume we are all talking average acceleration
Shii
Hey shiii 😀
conrad
the rate of change of velocity is callaed acceleration
Amna
a=delta v/delta t
Amna
the rate of change in velocity with respect to time is acceleration
Nana
nana you r right
Indrajit
good
oguji
what is meant by lost volt
Hardeyyemih Reply
Lost volt. Lol. It is the electrical energy lost due to the nature or the envirommental conditions (temperature and pressure) that affect the cable across which the potential difference is measured.
Theophilus
What is physics?
Bedabyas Reply
physics is brance science concerned with nature and properties of matter and energy
George
sure
Okpara
yah....
kashif
physics is study of the natural phenomenon on the basis of certain laws and principles. it's like watching a game of chess and trying to understand its rules how it's played.
Ajit
awesome
Okpara
physics is study of nature and it's law
AMRITA
physics is a branch of science that deals with the study of matter ,properties of matter and energy
Lote
Branch of science (study) of matter, motion and energy
Theophilus
what is a double-slit experiment?Explain.
Daniel Reply
when you pass a wave of any kind ie sound water light ect you get an interface pattern forming on a screen behind it, where the peaks and troughs add and cancel out due to the diffraction caused by a wave traveling through the slits
Luke
double slit experiment was done by YOUNG. And it's to give out monochromatic coherent, if an incoherent wave is passing through it. And then the waves form interference fringes. The screen placed in front of the double slit is preferably a film and then in the middle where "p=0" a brighter color
navid
is formed and then the constructive interferences occur at 0 (which is the brightest band)... then a sequence of bright band (constructive interference) and dark band (destructive interference) happens and the further from the central band the lower the intensity of bright band(constructive interfe
navid
what is photoelectric effect
Godwin Reply
the emission of electrons in some materials when light of suitable frequency falls on them
Hardeyyemih
The phenomenon that involves the emission of electrons (photoelectrons) when light of appropriate wavelength and frequency is incident on the surface of a metal.
ibrahim
Practice Key Terms 9

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask