Quantum physics? Wave a or a particle depending on what? Is that just light? Or is light different?

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Simple terms and examples please…

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Geoff S

It really depends on what particular you are working on as to whether the wave representation or particle representation of light (or elementary particles for that matter) is best.
When looking at light on a macroscopic scale and considering things like interference the wave picture works best. When considering things such as the photoelectric effect, the particle nature of light works best.
Wave-particle duality is also applicable to matter, though it generally isn’t something we’re used to experiencing. An electron microscope functions on the basis of the wave nature of electrons. The resolution of an electron microscope is limited by it’s de Broglie wavelength in the same manner than an optical microscope is limited by the wavelengths of visible light.


All electromagnetic radiation is quantized, although for radio frequencies the quantum effects are so small that they aren’t ordinarily visible. Whether a radiation acts as a wave or a particle depends on the nature of the experiment; all radiation has aspects of each. Light impinging on two slits shows wave behavior, but impinging on a phototube acts as particles.

ɣɐǁēʂ ɰɐɽɨŋēɽɨʂ (ɐɢɐɨɳ)

Light is both a particle and a wave depending on the experiment and when the observations are made. Matter also has a duality under the right circumstances.


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