User:Michael R Phillips/Notebook/Physics 307L/2008/11/26

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(Experiment 1)
(Setup & Equipment)
Line 15: Line 15:
*Pasco Scientific OS-9286 Hg Light Source
*Pasco Scientific OS-9286 Hg Light Source
*Pasco Scientific AP-9368 h/e Apparatus
*Pasco Scientific AP-9368 h/e Apparatus
*Stephen Martinez's Armitron Watch (used as a timer)

Revision as of 18:44, 26 November 2008

Planck's Constant Lab Main project page
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Planck's Constant (Photoelectric Effect)

Introduction & Safety

For this lab, we will be measuring a value for Planck's constant (h) by relating it to photoelectric effects caused by a Mercury lamp's light incident upon a cathode. There a few safety concerns that we will need to be careful about. These are high voltage, hot Mercury tube, and risk of breaking the tube or lens/grating. Most of these hazards have already been dealt with in previous labs (see Balmer Series) so we were already prepared for them. The only other important thing to note as far as safety is, as Aram pointed out, that we do not want to allow too strong of an intensity of light into our h/e apparatus because it could be damaging. To account for this, we will make sure to attach a filter which will simply decrease the intensity of light entering the apparatus.

Setup & Equipment


  • Wavetek 85XT Multimeter
  • Pasco Scientific OS-9286 Hg Light Source
  • Pasco Scientific AP-9368 h/e Apparatus
  • Stephen Martinez's Armitron Watch (used as a timer)


The lab was setup already, but we will still supply a brief description. We have a Mercury light source outfitted with a converging lens and diffraction grating pointed towards a "h/e" apparatus. This h/e apparatus is just a small circuit contained in a box. This circuit is basically just a piece of metal (the "cathode") which will receive photons from the Mercury lamp connected in series to a battery and an output (and ground). The battery is there so that we will have a voltage source that we can vary to measure the stopping potential from the output. The ground just resets the circuit so that the potential is zero again just before the cathode.

Before really getting started, we had to make sure our battery in the h/e apparatus still had enough voltage, so we connected the multimeter in parallel with the "Battery Test" connectors on the apparatus. We know, from the manual and from speaking with Aram, that the apparatus has two 9-volt batteries inside, giving a maximum potential of 18V if the batteries were new. The apparatus shows the minimum values, indicating ±6V which gives us a minimum of 12V that could be read through our multimeter. We actually measured our maximum potential to be

V_{max}=(16.091 \pm .001)V

which is between the maximum possible (i.e. new batteries) and minimum possible (i.e. old batteries, not enough to stop photon energy) potentials.

Now that we know that we have good enough batteries to perform the experiment, we can start really setting things up. We begin by connecting our multimeter to the output connections on our h/e apparatus. This will display the exact stopping potential for the incident light. Next, we adjusted the distance between the light source and the lens/grating assembly, which slides on a pair of rods, until the light from the source was focused at the distance of the white reflective plate just in front of the apparatus input. We then rotated the apparatus until the focused light was centered (and focused) on the photodiode behind the light shield and reflective plate. After discharging the circuit to eliminate ambient voltage, we are ready to begin with the real procedure.


Experiment 1

Experiment 1 consists of measurements that prove that the quantum theory of light is true and that the classical model for energy in light (which relates to intensity instead of frequency) is wrong.

The following are tables for given colors and their corresponding frequencies emitted by Mercury that show our measurements for the stopping potentials with relation to recharge time and relative intensity.

For Ultraviolet (ν = 8.2e14 Hz):

Relative Intensity (%) Stopping Potential 1, V1 (V) Stopping Potential 2, V2 (V) Recharge Time, τ (s)
100 2.000±.001 34.1±.1
80 1.999±.001 57.5±.1
60 1.995±.001

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