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In the photoelectric effect, what happens to the electron if the work function is too low?

Physics Asked by Molly Lynn on September 11, 2020

I know that no electrons will be emitted from the atom if the threshold is not reached, but my professor is asking us what happens to an electron in this scenario. I asked if the electron would just absorb the extra energy, and she replied with the hint “energy levels and colors”. I can’t find anything to help.

One Answer

You have to ask yourself if the electron can absorb the energy. For it to do so, there must be another energy level available to the electron inside the material.

If there is, the photon is absorbed. Otherwise, it will be reflected.

You need to look at the band structure of the material to decide what actually occurs.

Answered by Floris on September 11, 2020

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