The Photoelectric Effect

In this simulation, students shine monochromatic light on a photoactive metal surface, and observe the resulting electron flow. They then manipulate a circuit in order to stop the electrons by providing a stopping potential, which permits them to calculate the kinetic energy of the electrons produced by the light used in their experiment. The photons of monochromatic light have one specific frequency and a defined energy. These photons can be absorbed by a photo-active metal, which then ejects electrons to produce a current. The current can be stopped by providing a precise stopping potential that can be used to calculate the electron energy. This well-known experiment produced unexpected results that could not be explained until Albert Einstein employed a mathematically simple quantum mechanical analysis. With the data collected in this experiment, the student can perform the same analysis.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.5.3
Evaluate an argument, considering false premises, logical fallacies, and the quality of evidence presented.
CLE 3231.6.2
Investigate properties of the quantum theory.
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Lesson Variations

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