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Photoelectric Effect

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Lesson Focus

Photoelectric Effect


Learning Made Easy

You will observe the particle properties of light and the photoelectric effect through a series of activities.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that the photoelectric effect is the production of electricity using the energy of light.
  • Explain how varying the frequency and intensity of light affect a photoelectric current.
  • Describe light as being made up of tiny packets of energy called photons, and how these photons can cause electrons to be emitted in a photoelectric event.
  • Explain the interaction between photons and electrons in a photoelectric event in terms of energy requirements.
  • Identify the following technological applications of the photoelectric effect: smoke detectors, photovoltaic cells, and automatic doors.

Everything You'll Have Covered

The atoms of metals are held together by electrons. When light of a specific frequency shines on a metal, it becomes heated. Albert Einstein developed the idea that light actually behaves as a solid particle. For this concept to be true, light must contain electrons. Therefore, Einstein concluded that the frequency of light that strikes a metal results in energy given off by the metal as a result of electrons being released. This is called the photoelectric effect. It is summarized by the equation h = KE + BE. KE is the kinetic energy of an electron lost by the metal. BE is the binding energy of the metal. Planck's constant is h, and is the frequency of light to which the metal is exposed.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 30 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Learners should have working knowledge of electrons and the properties of light. They should also know how to read and interpret graphs.
Course Chemistry
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary ammeter, anode, binding energy