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S

C
I
S
PHY @ HSC

Stephen Bosi
John OByrne
Peter Fletcher
Joe Khachan
Jeff Stanger
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
and associated companies around the world

Sandra Woodward

Contents
Series features
How to use this book
Stage 6 Physics syllabus grid

vi
viii
x

Module 1 Space
Module 1 Introduction
Chapter 1 Cannonballs, apples, planets and gravity
1.1 Projectile motion
1.2 Gravity
1.3 Gravitational potential energy
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

2
4
4
10
16
20
22
22

Chapter 2 Explaining and exploring the solar system 26


2.1 Launching spacecraft
26
2.2 Orbits and gravity
35
2.3 Beyond Keplers orbits
41
2.4 Momentum bandits: the slingshot effect
44
2.5 Im back! Re-entry
46
Practical experiences
52
Chapter summary
53
Review questions
54
Chapter 3 Seeing in a weird light: relativity
3.1 Frames of reference and classical relativity
3.2 Light in the Victorian era
3.3 Special relativity, light and time
3.4 Length, mass and energy
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

58
58
61
64
69
75
76
76

Module 1 Review

80

Module 2 Motors and Generators


Module 2 Introduction

82

Chapter 4 Electrodynamics: moving charges and


magnetic fields
84
4.1 Review of essential concepts
84
4.2 Forces on charged particles in magnetic fields 89
4.3 The motor effect
90
4.4 Forces between parallel wires
93
Practical experiences
97
Chapter summary
98
Review questions
98

Chapter 5 Induction: the influence of changing


magnetism
5.1 Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic
induction
5.2 Lenzs law
5.3 Eddy currents
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

100
100
104
106
109
110
110

Chapter 6 Motors: magnetic fields make the world


go around
6.1 Direct current electric motors
6.2 Back emf and DC electric motors
6.3 Alternating current electric motors
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

114
114
120
121
126
127
127

Chapter 7 Generators and electricity supply: power


for the people
7.1 AC and DC generators
7.2 Transformers
7.3 Electricity generation and transmission
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

130
130
136
141
148
149
149

Module 2 Review

152

Module 3 From Ideas to Implementation


Module 3 Introduction

154

Chapter 8 From cathode rays to television


8.1 Cathode ray tubes
8.2 Charges in electric fields
8.3 Charges moving in a magnetic field
8.4 Thomsons experiment
8.5 Applications of cathode rays
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

156
156
160
164
165
167
170
171
171

Chapter 9 Electromagnetic radiation: particles


or waves?
9.1 Hertzs experiments on radio waves
9.2 Black body radiation and Plancks hypothesis
9.3 The photoelectric effect
9.4 Applications of the photoelectric effect
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

174
174
178
182
184
185
186
187
iii

Contents

Chapter 10 Semiconductors and the electronic


revolution
10.1 Conduction and energy bands
10.2 Semiconductors
10.3 Semiconductor devices
10.4 The control of electrical current
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

188
189
190
193
197
201
202
202

Chapter 11 Superconductivity
11.1 The crystal structure of matter
11.2 Wave interference
11.3 X-ray diffraction
11.4 Crystal structure
11.5 Electrical conductivity and the crystal
structure of metals
11.6 The discovery of superconductors
11.7 The Meissner effect
11.8 Type-I and type-II superconductors
11.9 Why is a levitated magnet stable?
11.10 BCS theory and Cooper pairs
11.11 Applications of superconductors
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

204
204
205
207
208

Module 3 Review

224

209
211
212
212
213
215
217
220
221
221

Module 4 Quanta to Quarks


Module 4 Introduction

226

Chapter 12 From Rutherford to Bohr


228
12.1 Atomic timeline
228
12.2 Rutherfords model of the atom
229
12.3 Plancks quantised energy
231
12.4 Spectral analysis
232
12.5 Bohrs model of the atom
235
12.6 Bohrs explanation of the Balmer series
236
12.7 Limitations of the RutherfordBohr model 239
Practical experiences
241
Chapter summary
242
Review questions
243
Chapter 13 Birth of quantum mechanics
13.1 The birth
13.2 Louis de Broglies proposal
13.3 Diffraction
13.4 Confirming de Broglies hypothesis
13.5 Electron orbits revisited
13.6 Further developments of atomic theory
19241930
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions
iv

247
247
248
250
251
252
253
256
256
257

Chapter 14 20th century alchemists


14.1 Discovery of the neutron
14.2 The need for the strong force
14.3 Atoms and isotopes
14.4 Transmutation
14.5 The neutrino
14.6 Was Einstein right?
14.7 Binding energy
14.8 Nuclear fission
14.9 Chain reactions
14.10 Neutron scattering
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

260
260
261
262
263
265
266
268
269
270
272
273
274
275

Chapter 15 The particle zoo


15.1 The Manhattan Project
15.2 Nuclear fission reactors
15.3 Radioisotopes
15.4 Particle accelerators
15.5 The Standard Model
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

279
279
280
282
286
292
295
296
297

Module 4 Review

300

Module 5 Medical Physics


Module 5 Introduction

302

Chapter 16 Imaging with ultrasound


16.1 What is ultrasound?
16.2 Principles of ultrasound imaging
16.3 Piezoelectric transducers
16.4 Acoustic impedance
16.5 Types of scans
16.6 Ultrasound at work
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

304
304
305
308
310
312
315
317
318
318

Chapter 17 Imaging with X-rays


17.1 Overview and history: types of X-ray images
17.2 The X-ray tube
17.3 Types of X-rays
17.4 Production of X-ray images
17.5 X-ray detector technology
17.6 Production of CAT X-ray images
17.7 Benefits of CAT scans over conventional
radiographs and ultrasound
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

320
320
321
322
324
326
326
329
330
331
331

Contents

Chapter 18 Imaging with light


18.1 Endoscopy
18.2 Medical uses of endoscopes
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

333
333
336
338
339
339

Chapter 19 Imaging with gamma rays


19.1 Isotopes and radioactive decay
19.2 Half-life
19.3 Radiopharmaceuticals: targeting tissues
and organs
19.4 The gamma camera
19.5 Positron emission tomography
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

340
340
343

Chapter 20 Imaging with radio waves


20.1 Spin and magnetism
20.2 Hydrogen in a magnetic field
20.3 Tuning in to hydrogen
20.4 It depends on how and where you look
20.5 The MRI scanner
20.6 Applications of MRI
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

354
354
355
357
359
360
362
363
364
364

Module 5 Review

366

344
346
347
350
351
351

Module 6 Astrophysics
Module 6 Introduction

368

Chapter 21 Eyes on the sky


21.1 The first telescopes
21.2 Looking up
21.3 The telescopic view
21.4 Sharpening the image
21.5 Interferometry
21.6 Future telescopes
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

370
370
373
374
377
380
382
383
384
384

Chapter 22 Measuring the stars


22.1 How far?
22.2 Light is the key
22.3 The stellar alphabet
22.4 Measuring magnitudes
22.5 Colour matters
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

388
388
389
394
397
400
403
405
405

Chapter 23 Stellar companions and variables


23.1 Binary stars
23.2 Doubly different
23.3 Variable stars
23.4 Cepheid variables
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

407
407
411
413
415
418
418
419

Chapter 24 Birth, life and death


24.1 The ISM
24.2 Star birth
24.3 Stars in the prime of life
24.4 Where to for the Sun?
24.5 The fate of massive stars
24.6 How do we know?
Practical experiences
Chapter summary
Review questions

422
422
423
425
428
430
433
435
436
436

Module 6 Review

438

Module 7 Skills
Module 7 Introduction

440

Chapter 25 Skills stage 2


25.1 Metric prefixes
25.2 Numerical calculations
25.3 Sourcing experimental errors
25.4 Presenting research for an exam
25.5 Australian scientist
25.6 Linearising a formula

442
442
443
445
446
447
447

Chapter 26 Revisiting the BOS key terms


26.1 Steps to answering questions

448
449

Numerical answers
Glossary
Index
Acknowledgements
Formulae and data sheets
Periodic table

452
454
465
471
473
474

S
C
I
S
Y
PH
@ HSC
AGE FOR NSW STUDENTS
CK
PA
S
IC
YS
PH
E
ET
PL
M
CO
THE
in2 Physics is the most up-to-date physics package written for the NSW Stage 6 Physics syllabus. The
materials comprehensively address the syllabus outcomes and thoroughly prepare students for the HSC exam.
Physics is presented as an exciting, relevant and fascinating discipline. The student materials provide
clear and easy access to the content and theory, regular review questions, a full range of exam-style
questions and features to develop an interest in the subject.

in2 Physics @ HSC student book


The student book closely follows the NSW Stage 6 Physics
syllabus and its modular structure.
It clearly addresses both the contexts and the prescribed focus
areas (PFAs).
Modules consist of chapters that are broken up into
manageable sections.
Checkpoint questions review key content at
8
regular intervals throughout each chapter.
Physics Philes present short, interesting
snippets of relevant information about
physics or physics applications.
Physics Features highlight important real-life
examples of physics.
Physics For FunTry This! provide hands-on
activities that are easy to do.
Physics Focus brings together physics concepts
in the context of one or more PFAs and provides
students with a graded set of questions to
develop their skills in this vital area.

From ideas to
on
implementati

From
cathode rays
to television

glass

anode (positive)

electrons
'boil' off
the heated
cathode

collimator

electron
beam

heater

cathode (negative)

Figure 8.5.3

electrons attracted
to the positive anode

The components of an electron gun used in


oscilloscopes and CRT televisions

both cathode ray

Television

electron gun

magnetic
coils

fluorescent screen

Figure 8.5.5

A television picture tube


showing the electron gun,
deflection coils and
fluorescent screen

only one beam.

Each student book includes an interactive student CD containing:


an electronic version of the student book.
all of the student materials on the companion website with live
links to the website.
vi

mask
blue
beam

electron
guns

red
beam

R
G
B

green
beam

focusing
coils

Time

sawtooth voltage for timebase

Figure 8.5.4

Time

mask

fluorescent
screen

fluorescent
screen

electron
beams

holes in
mask

Figure 8.5.6

guns
A colour CRT television set has three electron
that will only strike their respective coloured
phosphor dots with the aid of a shadow mask.

sinusoidal vertical voltage

A sawtooth voltage waveform on the horizontal


beam
deflection plates of a CRO sweeps the electron
waveform
across the screen to display the sinusoidal
on the vertical deflection plates.

used the principles of the cathode ray


Cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets
are now being superseded by plasma
tube for most of the 20th century. These
which use different operating principles
and liquid crystal display television sets,
sharper image. However, the CRT
and allow a larger display area with a
place in this form of
television holds quite a significant historical
communication.
television set is shown in Figure 8.5.5.
A schematic diagram of a colour CRT
of the CRO. The main difference is the
Its basic elements are similar to those
field coils placed outside the tube
method of deflecting the electrons. Magnetic
fields inside it. The magnitude and
produce horizontal and vertical magnetic
degree and direction of electron beam
direction of the current determine the
rule for the force on charged particles
deflection. Recall your right-hand palm
field will deflect the electrons
in a magnetic field. The vertical magnetic
deflect them vertically.
horizontally; the horizontal field will
scanning the beam from left to right
The picture on the screen is formed by
the television switches the beam on and
and top to bottom. The electronics in
in order to reproduce the transmitted
off at the appropriate spots on the screen
images, colour television sets need to
picture. However, to reproduce colour
green phosphors on the screen. Three
and
blue
red,
of
intensity
the
control
one aimed at one particular colour. The
separate electron guns are used, each
in groups of red, blue and green dots
coloured dots on the screen are clustered
cannot be distinguished by eye
that are very close to each other and generally
For this reason a method of guiding the
without the aid of a magnifying glass.
coloured dots was devised. A metal
different electron beams to their respective
8.5.6) and consisting of an array of
sheet, known as a shadow mask (Figure
hole guides the three beams to
Each
screen.
holes, is placed behind the phosphor
the beams move horizontally and vertically.
their respective coloured phosphor as
need the shadow mask since they had
Black and white television sets did not

168

phosphor dots
on screen

vacuum

beam to move up or down in


The vertical deflection plates cause the
For example, a sinusoidal voltage will
synchronisation with an input voltage.
as a trace) on the screen.
display a sinusoidal waveform (known

electron
beam

deflecting
coils

try this!
Do not aDjust your
horizontal!
If you have access to an old
black and white TV set or an old
style monochrome computer
monitor, try holding a bar
magnet near the front of the
screen and watch how the
image distorts. This occurs
because the magnetic field
deflects the electrons that strike
the screen. DO NOT do this with

a colour TV set. This can


magnetise the shadow mask and
cause permanent distortion of
the image and its colour. You
can move a bar magnet near the
back of a colour TV set to
deflect the electrons from the
electron gun and therefore
distort or shift the image
without causing permanent
damage to the TV set.

used
Can an osCillosCope be
as a television set?

ray oscilloscope (CRO) and CRT


he similarity between the cathode
be used as a television set. In
television suggests that a CRO can
that have made use of the CRO as
fact, there have been some devices
in principle, it can be used as a
you would a computer monitor. So,
why did they need to deflect the
television. One is then forced to ask
fields rather than with electric
beam in a television set with magnetic

fields as in the CRO?


be made in the same design as
In principle all television sets could
with
and cheaper to deflect the beam
a CRO; however, it is much easier
the tube rather than embed electrodes
a magnetic field on the outside of
is a little trickier. So now
in the glass and inside the vacuumthis
deflect the beam of the CRO using
another question arises: why not
CROs?.
in cheaper
magnetic fields, wouldnt it result
instruments. The horizontal
Cathode ray oscilloscopes are precision
to very high frequencies in order
sweep rate must be able to be increased
to
quickly. Electric fields can be made
to detect signals that change very
extra power requirements.
change very quickly without significant
system requires higher and higher
However, a magnetically deflected
in
and vertical deflection frequencies
voltages with increasing horizontal
same
the
in the coils, and therefore,
order to maintain the same current
a significantly greater power
angle of beam deflection thus having
sets, however, only operate at
requirement. Cathode ray tube television
horizontal and vertical frequencies.
fixed and relatively low scanning
the mass market to deflect with a
Thus it is simpler and cheaper for
magnetic field.

CheCkpoint 8.5
1
2
3
4

Outline the purpose of a CRO.


List the main parts of a CRO.
in the CRO.
Describe the role of each of these parts
the cathode ray tube CRO and CRT TV.
State the similarities and differences between
169

in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual


Chapter 8
from cathode rays
to television

MODULE

A write-in workbook
that provides a
structured approach
to the mandatory
practical experiences,
both first-hand and
secondary-source
investigations.
Dot point and skills
focused.

from ideas to
tion
implementa

Chapter 8

from Cathode rays


to television
aCtivity 8.1
first-hand investigation

Changing pressure of
discharge tubes

the occurrence of different striation


first-hand information to observe
Perorm an investigation and gather
discharge tubes.
patterns for different pressures in

Physics skills

in this activity include:


The skills outcomes to be practised
12.1 perform first-hand investigations
12.2 gather first-hand information
14.1 analyse information
syllabus grid on pages viviii.
skills outcomes can be found in the
The complete statement of these

Aim

To observe the striation patterns for different

different patterns that


Because of this development,
could be seen depended on the pressure.
the air molecules. To do this,
but it can be made to conduct by ionising
Normally air is considered to be an insulator,
an electric field). At high pressures these
that are always in air are accelerated (with
to ionise the air
energy
the very small fraction of free electrons
sufficient
gain
not
losing their energy and, as a result, do
electrons collide frequently with the air,
molecules, thereby acquiring enough
travel further before colliding with air
they are
atoms. As pressure is reduced, these electrons
in turn, can ionise other atoms. When
will produce more free electrons that,
energy to ionise the air molecules. This
show (known as a discharge). The lower
to be absorbed by atoms, we see a light
discharge.
a
able to travel far enough to gain the energy
producing
and
can travel before colliding with gas molecules
the pressure, the further the electrons
excited (increasing in energy) and
electrons around the gas atom becoming
will also
The light that is emitted is a result of the
energy they can have in an atom). Light
lowest
(the
state
ground
the
to
return
re-emitting the photon of light as they
ground state, emitting photons. As every
with ions and the electrons return to the
be produced when free electrons recombine
the element with which the electron collides.
the colour of light seen will vary with
element has a distinct set of energy levels,
be passed through air. The
it was found that electric current could

Equipment

The patterns are


can carry out the experiment first hand.
If you have the apparatus at school, you
is very dark.
discharge tubes at different pressures
induction coil
DC power supply
connecting wires
Alternatively, you can use the simulations

them.

Risk assessment

Method
1
2
3
4

8.1.1.
Set up the equipment as shown in Figure
in the tube.
Observe the patterns and note the pressure
series.
Replace the tube with the next in the
and
Repeat the process of observing the patterns
your set.
in
tubes
the
noting the pressure for each of

DC power supply

tube
Figure 8.1.1 Induction coil and discharge

pressures in discharge tubes.

Hypothesis

in Part B and make observations from

hard to see unless the room

HAZARD

The voltages necessary to operate the


coils and may produce unwanted X-rays.
used,
High voltages are produced by induction
the tube. Generally, the higher the voltage
the tube and the pressure of the gas in
tubes depend upon the dimensions of
of unwanted X-rays.
the greater the danger of the production
a minimum of 1 m away from the equipment.
Use the lowest possible voltage and stand

Theory

which the pressure could be reduced


Plcker collaborated to create a tube in
Ever since Heinrich Geissler and Julius
ray tube have advanced tremendously.
atom and developing uses for the cathode
substantially, our understanding of the

69

68

in2 Physics @ HSC Teacher Resource


Editable teaching materials, including teaching
programs, so that teachers can tailor lessons to
suit their classroom.
Answers to student book and activity manual
questions, with fully worked solutions and
extended answers and support notes.
Risk assessments for all first-hand
investigations.

in2 Physics @ HSC companion website


Visit the companion website
in the student lounge
and teacher lounge
of Pearson Places
Review questions
auto-correcting multiple-choice
questions for each chapter.
Web destinationsa list
of reviewed websites that support
further investigation.

For more information on the in2 Physics series,


visit www.pearsonplaces.com.au
vii

How to use this book


in2 Physics @ HSC is structured to enhance student
learning and their enjoyment of learning. It contains many
outstanding and unique features that will assist students
succeed in Stage 6 Physics. These include:
Module opening pages introduce a range of contexts for
study, as well as an inquiry activity that provides
immediate activities for exploration and discussion.

2
Context

Key ideas are clearly highlighted with a


and
indicate where domain dot points
Syllabus flags
appear in the student book. The flags are placed as
closely as possible to where the relevant content is
covered. Flags may be repeated if the dot point has
multiple parts, is complex or where students are
required to solve problems.
3

Motors and
Generators

l v = l0 1
tv =

mv =

Figure 4.0.2

of interference of electromagnetic radiation, and examine how this was applied to


crystals using X-rays. Then we will see how the BCS theory of superconductivity
made use of the crystal structure of matter.

try thiS!

CheCkpoInT 11.1

Crystals in the kitChen

Explain what is meant by the crystal structure of matter.

Look at salt grains through a


magnifying lens. Each grain is
a single crystal that is made from
the basic arrangement of sodium
and chlorine atoms shown in
Figure 11.1.1. Although the
grains mostly look irregular due
to breaking and chipping during
the manufacturing process,
occasionally you will see an
untouched cubic or rectangular
prism that reflects the underlying
crystal lattice structure.

11.2 Wave interference


The wave nature of light can be used to measure the size of very small spaces.
Recall that two identical waves combine to produce a wave of greater amplitude
when their crests overlap, as shown in Figure 11.2.1a (see in2 Physics @
Preliminary sections 6.4 and 7.4). The overlapping waves will cancel to produce
t=0s
a resulting wave of zero amplitude when the crest of one wave coincides with the
trough of the other (Figure 11.2.1b). This addition and subtraction is called
constructive and destructive interference respectively and is a property of all
wave phenomena.
t=1s
As an example, two identical circular water waves in a ripple tank overlap (see
Figure 11.2.2). The regions of constructive and destructive interference radiate
outwards along the lines as shown. Increasing the spacing between the sources
t = 3 s (Figure 11.2.2b).
causes the radiating lines to come closer together
a

Figure 11.2.1 Two identical waves (red, green) travelling in opposite directions can add (blue)
t=1s

(a) constructively or (b) destructively.t = 5 s

The interference of identical waves from two sources can also be represented
by outwardly radiating transverse waves (see Figure 11.2.3). The distance that a
twave
= 3 s travels is known as its path length. t = 6 s Constructive interference occurs
when the difference in the path length of the two waves is equal to 0, , 2, 3,
4 or any other integer multiple of the wavelength . Destructive interference
occurs
when the two waves are half a wavelength out of step. This corresponds to
t=4s
t=7s
a path length difference of /2, 3/2, 5/2 etc.

t=5s

lines of destructive
interference

lines of constructive
interference

t=4s

t=0s

11.1 The crystal structure of matter

waves
in phase

destructive
interference
constructive
interference

204

t=7s

1
2

evil tWinS

he most extreme massenergy


conversion involves antimatter.
For every kind of matter particle
there is an equivalent antimatter
particle, an evil twin, bearing
properties (such as charge) of
opposite sign. Particles and their
antiparticles have the same rest
mass. When a particle meets its
antiparticle, they mutually
annihilateall their opposing
properties cancel, leaving only
their massenergy, which is
usually released in the form of
two gammaray photons. Matter
antimatter annihilation has been
suggested (speculatively) as a
possible propellant for powering
future interstellar spacecraft.

1 v2
1
m0c 1 + 2 = m0c 2 + m0v 2
2
2 c

E = mc 2

Figure 3.4.6

One of the four ultra-precise superconducting spherical


gyroscopes on NASAs Gravity Probe B, which orbited
Earth in 2004/05 to measure two predictions of general
relativity: the bending of spacetime by the Earths
mass and the slight twisting of spacetime by the
Earths rotation (frame-dragging)

In general relativity, Einstein showed that gravity


occurs because objects with mass or energy cause this
4D spacetime to become distorted. The paths of
objects through this distorted 4D spacetime appear to
our 3D eyes to follow the sort of astronomical
trajectories you learned about in Chapter 2 Explaining
and exploring the solar system. However, unlike
Newtons gravitation, general relativity is able to handle
situations of high gravitational fields, such as
Mercurys precessing orbit around the Sun and black
holes. General relativity also predicts another wave that
doesnt require a medium: the ripples in spacetime
called gravity waves.

where m is any kind of mass. In relativity, mass and energy are regarded as the
same thing, apart from the change of units. Sometimes the term mass-energy is
used for both. m0 c 2 is called the rest energy, so even a stationary object contains
energy due to its rest mass. Relativistic kinetic energy therefore:
m0c 2
mv c 2 m0c 2 =
m0c 2
v2
1 2
c
Whenever energy increases, so does mass. Any release of energy is
accompanied by a decrease in mass. A book sitting on the top shelf has a slightly
higher mass than one on the bottom shelf because of the difference in
gravitational potential energy. An objects mass increases slightly when it is hot
because the kinetic energy of the vibrating atoms is higher.
Because c 2 is such a large number, a very tiny mass is equivalent to a large
amount of energy. In the early days of nuclear physics, E = mc 2 revealed the
enormous energy locked up inside an atoms nucleus by the strong nuclear force
that holds the protons and neutrons together. It was this that alerted nuclear
physicists just before World War II to the possibility of a nuclear bomb. The
energy released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of that
war (smallish by modern standards) resulted from a reduction in relativistic mass
of about 0.7 g (slightly less than the mass of a standard wire paperclip).

Discuss the implications of


mass increase, time dilation
and length contraction for
space travel.

Worked example
qUESTIon
When free protons and neutrons become bound together to form a nucleus, the reduction in
nuclear potential energy (binding energy) is released, normally in the form of gamma rays.
Relativity says this loss in energy is reflected in a decrease in mass of the resulting atom.

Each chapter concludes with:


a chapter summary
review questions, including literacy-based questions
(Physically Speaking), chapter review questions
(Reviewing) and physics problems (Solving
Problems). Syllabus verbs are clearly highlighted as
and where appropriate
Physics Focusa unique feature that places key
chapter concepts in the context of one or more
prescribed focus areas.

Figure 11.2.2 Interference of water waves for


two sources that are (a) close
together and (b) further apart

19

Imaging with
gamma rays

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

ChAPTER 19

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Figure 11.2.3 Constructive and destructive interference between

Activity 19.1: Bone scAns

identical transverse waves from two sources

Perform an investigation to
compare a bone scan with
an X-ray image.

205

Chapters are divided into short, accessible sections


the text itself is presented in short, easy-to-understand
chunks of information. Each section concludes with
a Checkpointa set of review questions to check
understanding of key content and concepts.

A bone scan is performed to obtain a functional image of the bones and so can be
used to detect abnormal metabolism in the bones, which may be an indication of
cancer or other abnormality. Because cancer mostly involves a higher than normal
rate of cell division (thus producing a tumour), chemicals
involved in metabolic processes in bone tend to accumulate in
higher concentrations in cancerous tissue. This produces areas
of concentration of gamma emission, indicating a tumour.
Compare the data obtained from the image of a bone scan
with that provided by an X-ray image.
Discussion questions
1 Identify the best part of the body for each of these
diagnostic tools to image.
2 Compare and contrast the two images in terms of
the information they provide.

Figure 19.6.1

Chapter summary

The number of protons in a nucleus is given by the


atomic number, while the total number of nucleons is
given by the mass number.
Atoms of the same element with different numbers of
neutrons are called isotopes of that element.
Many elements have naturally occurring unstable
radioisotopes.
In alpha decay an unstable nucleus decays by emitting
an alpha particle (-particle).
In beta decay, a neutron changes into a proton and
a high-energy electron that is emitted as a beta particle
(-particle).
In positron decay, a positronthe antiparticle of the
electronis emitted.

Activity 19.2: HeAltHy or diseAsed?


Typical images of healthy bone and cancerous bone are shown. The tumours show
up as hot-spots. Use the template in the activity manual to research and compare
images of healthy and diseased parts of the body.
Discussion questions
1 Examine Figure 19.4.2. There is a hot-spot that is not cancerous near the
left elbow. Explain.
2 In the normal scan (Figure 19.6.2a), the lower pelvis has a region of high
intensity. Why is this? (Hint: It may be soft tissue, not bone. Looking at
Figure 19.6.2b might help you with this question.)
3 State the differences that can be observed by comparing an image of
a healthy part of the body with that of a diseased part of the body.

PHysicAlly sPeAking
Below is a list of topics that have been discussed throughout
this chapter. Create a visual summary of the concepts in
this chapter by constructing a mind map linking the terms.
Add diagrams where useful.

Radioactive
decay

350

Radiation

Radioisotope

Neutron

Proton

Beta decay

Gamma
decay

Antimatter

Bone scan

Positron
decay

Half-life

Bones scans of (a) a healthy person and


(b) a patient with a tumour in the skeleton

mEdICAL
PhySICS

When a positron and an electron collide, their total


mass is converted into energy in the form of two
gamma-ray photons.
In gamma decay a gamma ray (g) is emitted from a
radioactive isotope.
The time it takes for half the mass of a radioactive
parent isotope to decay into its daughter nuclei is the
half-life of the isotope.
Artificial radioisotopes are produced in two main ways:
in a nuclear reactor or in a cyclotron.
A gamma camera detects gamma rays emitted by
a radiopharmaceutical in the patients body.
PET imaging uses positron-emitting
radiopharmaceuticals to obtain images using gamma
rays emitted from electronpositron annihilation.

Review questions

Comparison of an X-ray and bone scan of a hand

Gather and process secondary


information to compare a
scanned image of at least one
healthy body part or organ with
a scanned image of its
diseased counterpart.

Figure 19.6.2

viii

73

constructive
interference

t=6s

1
2

72

Figure 11.1.1 Crystal structure of sodium chloride. The red spheres represent positive
sodium ions, and the green spheres represent negative chlorine ions.

1
Rearrange:
mvc 2 m0c 2 = (mv m0)c 2 m0v 2
2
In other words, at low speeds, the gain in relativistic mass (mv m0)
multiplied by c 2 equals the kinetic energya tantalising hint that at low speed
mass and energy are equivalent. It can also be shown to be true at all speeds,
using more sophisticated mathematics. In general, mass and energy are
equivalent in relativity and c 2 is the conversion factor between the energy unit
(joules) and the mass unit (kg). In other words:

c2

here are two more invariants in special relativity.


Maxwells equations (and hence relativity)
requires that electrical charge is invariant in all
frames. Another quantity invariant in all inertial frames
is called the spacetime interval.
You may have heard of spacetime but not know
what it is. One of Einsteins mathematics lecturers
Hermann Minkowski (18641909) showed that the
equations of relativity and Maxwells equations become
simplified if you assume that the three dimensions of
space (x, y, z) and time t taken together form a
fourdimensional coordinate system called spacetime.
Each location in spacetime is not a position, but rather
an eventa position and a time.
Using a 4D version of Pythagoras theorem,
Minkowski then defined a kind of 4D distance
between events called the spacetime interval s given by:
s 2 = (c time period)2 path length2
= c 2t 2 ((x)2 + (y)2 + (z)2)
Observers in different frames dont agree on the
3D path length between events, or the time period
between events, but all observers in inertial frames
agree on the spacetime interval s between events.

from ideaS to
implementation

A crystal is a three-dimensional regular arrangement of atoms. Figure 11.1.1


shows a sodium chloride crystal (ordinary salt also called rock salt when it comes
as a large crystal). The crystal is made from simple cubes repeated many times,
with sodium and chlorine atoms at the corners of the cubes. Crystals of other
materials may have different regular arrangements of their atoms. There are
14 types of crystal arrangements that solids can have.
The regular arrangement of atoms in crystals was a hypothesis before
Max Von Laue and his colleagues confirmed it by X-ray diffraction experiments.
William and Lawrence Bragg took this method one step further by measuring
the spacing between the atoms in the crystal. Let us first look at the phenomenon

v2
m0c 2 1 2
c

Surprising discovery
crystal, constructive interference,
destructive interference, path length,
diffraction grating, Bragg law,
phonons, critical temperature,
type-I superconductors,
type-II superconductors,
critical field strength, vortices,
flux pinning, BCS theory, Cooper pair,
coherence length, energy gap, spin

v2
= m0c 2 1 2
c

m0c 2

v2
1 2
c
Using a well-known approximation formula that you might learn at university,
(1 x )n 1 nx for small x:

1. The history of physics

InQUIRY ACtIVItY

Chapter openings list the key words of each chapter and


introduce the chapter topic in a concise and engaging way.

Just as an improved understanding of the conducting properties of


semiconductors led to the wide variety of electronic devices, research
into the conductivity of metals produced quite a surprising discovery
called superconductivity. This is the total disappearance of electrical
resistance below a certain temperature, which has great potential
applications ranging from energy transmission and storage to public
transport. An understanding of this phenomenon required a detailed
understanding of the crystal structure of conductors and the motion
of electrons through them.

mv c 2 =

m0

TwISTIng SPACETImE ...


And YoUR mInd

A simple homopolar motor

83

Superconductivity

c2

c2

82

11

v2

v2

PHYSICS FEATURE

Many of the devices you use every day have electric motors. They spin your DVDs,
wash your clothes and even help cook your food. Could you live without them,
and how much do you know about how they work?
The essential ingredients for a motor are a power source, a magnetic field
and things to connect these together in the right way. Its not as hard as you
think. All you need is a battery, a wood screw, a piece of wire and a cylindrical or
spherical magnet. Put these things together as shown in Figure 4.0.2 and see
if you can get your motor to spin. Be patient and keep trying. Then try the
following activities.
1 Test the effects of changing the voltage you use. You could add another
battery in series or try a battery with a higher voltage.
2 Try changing the strength of the magnet by using a different magnet or
adding another. What does this affect?
3 Try changing the length of the screw, how sharp its point is or the material
it is made from. Does it have to be made of iron?

A generator produces electricity


in each of these wind turbines.

The kinetic energy formula K = 1 mv 2 doesnt apply at relativistic speeds,


2
even if you substitute relativistic mass mv into the formula. Classically, if you
apply a net force to accelerate an object, the work done equals the increase in
kinetic energy. An increase in speed means an increase in kinetic energy. But
in relativity it also means an increase in relativistic mass, so relativistic mass
and energy seem to be associated. Superficially, if you multiply relativistic
mass by c 2 you get mv c 2, which has the same dimensions and units as energy.
But lets look more closely at it.

t0
1

The first recorded observations of the relationship between electricity and


magnetism date back more than 400 years. Many unimagined discoveries
followed, but progress never waits. Before we understood their nature, inventions
utilising electricity and magnetism had changed our world forever.
Today our lives revolve around these forms of energy. The lights you use to
read this book rely on them and the CD inside it would be nothing but a shiny
coaster for your cup. We use magnetism to generate the electricity that drives
industry, discovery and invention. Electricity and magnetism are a foundation for
modern technology, deeply seated in the global economy, and our use impacts
heavily on the environment.
The greatest challenge that faces future generations is the supply of energy.
As fossil fuels dry up, electricity and magnetism will become even more
important. New and improved technologies will be needed. Whether its a hybrid
car, a wind turbine or a nuclear fusion power plant, they all rely on applications
of electricity and magnetism.

Space
How does this formula behave at low speeds (when v 2/c 2 is small)?

Mass, energy and the worlds most famous equation

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
E = mc2

BUIld YoUR own eleCtRIC motoR

Figure 4.0.1

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Isotope

reviewing
1

Recall how the bone scan produced by a radioisotope


compares with that from a conventional X-ray.

Analyse the relationship between the half-life of


a radiopharmaceutical and its potential use in the
human body.

Explain how it is possible to emit an electron from the


nucleus when the electron is not a nucleon.

Assess the statement that Positrons are radioactive


particles produced when a proton decays.

Discuss the impact that the production and use of


radioisotopes has on society.

Describe how isotopes such as Tc-99m and F-18 can


be used to target specific organs to be imaged.

Use the data in Table 19.6.1 to answer the questions:


a Which radioactive isotope would most likely be
used in a bone scan? Justify your choice.
b Propose two reasons why cesium-137 would not
be a suitable isotope to use in medical imaging.

Nucleon

Alpha decay

PET

Table 19.6.1
Scintillator

Properties of some radioisotopes

Radioactive souRce

Radiation emitted

Half-life

C-11
Tc-99m
TI-201
I-131
Cs-137
U-238

+, g
g
g
, g

20.30 minutes
6.02 hours
3.05 days
8.04 days
30.17 years
4.47 109 years

351

How to use this book

Other features

Module reviews provide a full range of exam-style


questions, including multiple-choice, short-response
and extended-response questions.

from ideas to
implementation
4

The review contains questions in a similar style and proportion


to the HSC Physics examination. Marks are allocated to
each question up to a total of 25 marks. It should take you
approximately 45 minutes to complete this review.
5

Experimental data from black body radiation during


Plancks time showed that predicted radiation levels
were not achieved in reality. Planck best described
this anomaly by saying that:
A classical physics was wrong.
B radiation that is emitted and absorbed is
quantised.
C he had no explanation for it.
D quantum mechanics needed to be developed.

extended response

Figure 11.13.4 shows a cathode ray tube that has


been evacuated. Which answer correctly names each
of the labelled features?

III

Explain, with reference to atomic models, why


cathode rays can travel through metals. (2 marks)

Outline how the cathode ray tube in a TV works


in order to produce the viewing picture. (2 marks)

Give reasons why CRT TVs use magnetic coils and


CROs use electric plates in order to deflect the
beams, given that both methods work. (2 marks).

In your studies you were required to gather


information to describe how the photoelectric effect
is used in photocells.
a Explain how you determined which material was
relevant and reliable.
b Outline how the photoelectric effect is used in
photocells. (3 marks)

II

multiple choice
(1 mark each)
1 Predict the direction of the electron in Figure 11.13.1
as it enters the magnetic field.
A Straight up
B Left
C Right
D Down

A
B

Figure 11.13.1

An electron in a magnetic field


C

The diagrams in Figure 11.13.2 represent


semiconductors, conductors and insulators. The
diagrams show the conduction and valence bands,
and the energy gaps. Which answer correctly labels
each of the diagrams?

A
B
C
D

Figure 11.13.4 An evacuated cathode ray tube

II

III

Conductor
Insulator
Insulator
Semiconductor

Insulator
Conductor
Semiconductor
Conductor

Semiconductor
Semiconductor
Conductor
Insulator

A
B
C
D

II

III

Critical
temperature
Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature
Normal material

Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature
Normal material

Normal material

Superconductor
material

II

Figure 11.13.2

The graph in Figure 11.13.3 shows how the


resistance of a material varies with temperature.
Identify each of the parts labelled on the graph.

Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature

II

III

Cathode
Striations

Anode
Cathode

Anode

Faradays
dark space
Striations

Faradays
dark space

10

Justify the introduction of semiconductors to replace


thermionic devices. (4 marks)

11

Magnetic levitation trains are used in Germany and


Japan. The trains in Germany use conventional
electromagnets, whereas the one in Japan uses
superconductors. Compare and contrast the two
systems. (3 marks)

12

Determine the frequency of red light, which has


a wavelength = 660 nm. (Speed of light
c = 3.00 108 m s1)
Calculate the energy of a photon that is emitted
with this wavelength. (Plancks constant
h = 6.63 1034 J s) (4 marks)

Figure 11.13.3

Physics for FunTry This! activities are short, handson activities to be done quickly, designed to provoke
discussion.
Physics Features are a key feature as they highlight
contextual material, case studies or prescribed focus
areas of the syllabus.

III

II

Normal material

I
Striations
Faradays
dark space
Crookes
dark space
Cathode

A complete glossary of all the key words is included at


the end of the student book.

Energy bands

Resistance ()

Physics Philes present short, interesting items to


support or extend the text.

III

Temperature (K)

Resistance varies with temperature

224

225

Practical experiences
The accompanying activity manual covers all of the
mandatory practical experiences outlined in the syllabus.
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual is a write-in
workbook that outlines a clear, foolproof approach to
success in all the required practical experiences.
Within the student book, there are clear cross-references
to the activity manual: Practical Experiences icons refer to
the activity number and page in the activity manual. In
each chapter, a summary of possible investigations is
provided as a starting point to get
students thinking. These include
PRACTICAL
the aim, a list of equipment and
EXPERIENCES
Activity 10.2
discussion questions.
Activity Man

The final two chapters provide essential reference


material: Skills stage 2 and Revisiting the BOS
key terms.
In all questions and activities, except module review
questions, the BOS key terms are highlighted.

in2 Physics @ HSC Student CD


This is included with the student book and contains:
an electronic version of the student book
interactive modules demonstrating key concepts

MODULE

ual, Page 94

Chapter 6
motors: magnetic fields
make the world go around

motors and
generators

aCtIVItY 6.2
First-hand investigation

the companion website on CD

Risk assessment

Motors and torque

Solve problems and analyse information about simple motors using:


= nBIA cos

Method

Physics skills

Cut a length of cotton-covered wire so that the wire is long enough


to wrap around the exterior of a matchbox three times (as shown in
Figure 6.2.2).

Leave a straight piece (approx. 10 cm long) hanging out and then wind
the remainder of the wire around the box 2 times. Leave another
straight piece the same length as at the start, on the opposite side.

Wrap the straight pieces around the loops so that they tie both ends.

Fan out the loops so that you get equally spaced loops and that it
looks like a bird cage (see Figure 6.2.3).

Push out the middle of the paper clip as shown and Blu-Tack to
the bench.

Slip the straight pieces of wire through the paper clip supports.
Unwrap the cotton from these parts.

Connect an AC power supply to the paper clips.

Place two magnets so that a north pole and a south pole face on
opposing sides of the cage.

Turn on. You may need to give the cage a tap to get it spinning.

The skills outcomes to be practised in this activity include:


12.4 process information
14.1 analyse information
The complete statement of these skills outcomes can be found in the syllabus grid on pages viiviii.

Aim

Hypothesis

Theory
The motor effect means that a current-carrying wire experiences
a force when placed in a magnetic field. This is the basis for
the workings of a motor.
For a motor to work as needed, the motion resulting from
the motor effect needs to be circular and the force needs to be
adjusted so the direction of rotation does not change.

Question
Figure 6.2.1 shows the simplified workings of a motor that you
will be making. Label all the parts of the motor.

48

insulated wire from which insulation can be removed easily


magnets
magnetic field sensor and data logger (if available)
paperclips

matchbox
wire
b

loop wire
through

Figure 6.2.2 Equipment set-up 1

cage fanned out

paper clip

alligator clip
wires

power
source

Figure 6.2.3 Equipment set-up 2

Record your observations of the motor.

The complete in2 Physics @ HSC package

How did adding more magnets affect how the motor ran?

Remember the other components of the complete package:

When the current is increased, what changes occurred?

Results
N

C:

D:

Figure 6.2.1 Simplified motor

Blu-Tack
connecting wires with alligator clips
power supply

a link to the live companion website (Internet access


required) to provide access to the latest information and
web links related to the student book.

A:
B:

Equipment



in2 Physics @ HSC companion website at Pearson Places


49

in2 Physics @ HSC Teacher Resource.

ix

Stage 6 Physics syllabus grid


Prescribed focus areas
1. The history of physics

H1. evaluates how major advances in scientific understanding and


technology have changed the direction or nature of scientific thinking

Feature: pp. 12, 29, 72

2. The nature and practice of physics

H2. analyses the ways in which models, theories and laws in physics
have been tested and validated

Focus: p. 79

3. Applications and uses of physics

H3. assesses the impact of particular advances in physics on the


development of technologies

Feature: pp. 12, 29, 307,


334, 346

Focus: pp. 25, 246, 299

Focus: pp. 57, 79, 129,


173, 223, 246, 259, 278
4. Implications for society and the
Environment

H4. assesses the impacts of applications of physics on society and the


environment

Feature: pp. 29, 307, 344

5. Current issues, research and


developments in physics

H5. identifies possible future directions of physics research

Feature: pp. 391, 410

Focus: pp. 113, 173, 353


Focus: pp. 79, 113, 173,
223, 353, 386

Module 1 Space
1. The Earth has a gravitational field that exerts a force on objects both on it and around it
Students learn to:

Page Students:

define weight as the force on an object


due to a gravitational field

13

perform an investigation and gather information to determine a value for


Act. 1.2
acceleration due to gravity using pendulum motion or computer-assisted
technology and identify reason(s) for possible variations from the value 9.8ms2

Page

explain that a change in gravitational


potential energy is related to work done

16

gather secondary information to predict the value of acceleration due to gravity


on other planets

Act. 1.3

define gravitational potential energy as


the work done to move an object from
a very large distance away to a point
in a gravitational field:
mm
EP = G 1 2
r

16

analyse information using the expression:

Act. 1.3

F = mg
to determine the weight force for a body on Earth and for the same body
on other planets

2. Many factors have to be taken into account to achieve a successful rocket launch, maintain
a stable orbit and return to Earth
Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

describe the trajectory of an object


undergoing projectile motion within the
Earths gravitational field in terms of
horizontal and vertical components

7, 9,
23, 24

solve problems and analyse information to calculate the actual velocity of


a projectile from its horizontal and vertical components using:
vx2 = ux2

v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
x = uxt
y = uyt +12 ayt2

describe Galileos analysis of projectile


motion

perform a first-hand investigation, gather information and analyse data to


calculate initial and final velocity, maximum height reached, range and time of
flight of a projectile for a range of situations by using simulations, data loggers
and computer analysis

explain the concept of escape velocity


in terms of the:
gravitational constant
mass and radius of the planet

18

identify data sources, gather, analyse and present information on the contribution 29
of one of the following to the development of space exploration: Tsiolkovsky,
Act. 2.1
Oberth, Goddard, Esnault-Pelterie, ONeill or von Braun

Act. 1.1

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
outline Newtons concept of escape
velocity

18

identify why the term g forces is used


to explain the forces acting on an
astronaut during launch

31

discuss the effect of the Earths orbital


motion and its rotational motion on the
launch of a rocket

34

analyse the changing acceleration of


a rocket during launch in terms of the:
Law of Conservation of Momentum
forces experienced by astronauts

30, 33

analyse the forces involved in uniform


circular motion for a range of objects,
including satellites orbiting the Earth

25, 32, solve problems and analyse information to calculate the centripetal force acting
34, 37, on a satellite undergoing uniform circular motion about the Earth using:
54, 55
mv 2
F = r

compare qualitatively low Earth and


geo-stationary orbits

43

define the term orbital velocity and the 36, 40, solve problems and analyse information using:
quantitative and qualitative relationship 56
r3
GM
=
between orbital velocity, the
2
4
2
T
gravitational constant, mass of the
central body, mass of the satellite and
the radius of the orbit using Keplers
Law of Periods
account for the orbital decay of
satellites in low Earth orbit

46

discuss issues associated with safe


re-entry into the Earths atmosphere
and landing on the Earths surface

47

identify that there is an optimum angle


for safe re-entry for a manned
spacecraft into the Earths atmosphere
and the consequences of failing to
achieve this angle

47

37, 54,
55
Act. 2.2

39, 43,
56

3. The solar system is held together by gravity


Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

describe a gravitational field in the


region surrounding a massive object in
terms of its effects on other masses
in it

13

present information and use available evidence to discuss the factors affecting
the strength of the gravitational force

Act. 1.3

define Newtons Law of Universal


Gravitation:
mm
F = G 1 22
d

11

solve problems and analyse information using:


mm
F = G 1 22
d

23, 24,
25, 37,
54, 55

discuss the importance of Newtons


Law of Universal Gravitation in
understanding and calculating the
motion of satellites

35, 38

identify that a slingshot effect can be


provided by planets for space probes

44

xi

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
4. Current and emerging understanding about time and space has been dependent upon earlier models
of the transmission of light
Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

outline the features of the aether model 61


for the transmission of light
describe and evaluate the MichelsonMorley attempt to measure the relative
velocity of the Earth through the aether

62

gather and process information to interpret the results of the Michelson-Morley


experiment

62
Act. 3.2

discuss the role of the MichelsonMorley experiments in making


determinations about competing
theories

62

outline the nature of inertial frames of


reference

58

perform an investigation to help distinguish between non-inertial and inertial


frames of reference

60
Act. 3.1

discuss the principle of relativity

58

analyse and interpret some of Einsteins thought experiments involving mirrors


and trains and discuss the relationship between thought and reality

66

describe the significance of Einsteins


assumption of the constancy of the
speed of light

65

analyse information to discuss the relationship between theory and the evidence
supporting it, using Einsteins predictions based on relativity that were made
many years before evidence was available to support it

78

identify that if c is constant then space


and time become relative

65

discuss the concept that length


standards are defined in terms of time
in contrast to the original metre
standard

79

explain qualitatively and quantitatively


the consequence of special relativity in
relation to:
the relativity of simultaneity
the equivalence between mass and
energy
length contraction
time dilation
mass dilation

64, 69 solve problems and analyse information using:


E = mc2
lv = l0 1

v2

66, 69,
72, 77,
78

c2

t0
tv = 1

v2
c2

m0
mv = 1
discuss the implications of mass
increase, time dilation and length
contraction for space travel

v2
c2

70, 73

Module 2 Motors and Generators


1. Motors use the effect of forces on current-carrying conductors in magnetic fields
Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

discuss the effect on the magnitude of


the force on a current-carrying
conductor of variations in:
the strength of the magnetic field in
which it is located
the magnitude of the current in the
conductor
the length of the conductor in the
external magnetic field
the angle between the direction
of the external magnetic field and
the direction of the length of the
conductor

92

Act. 4.1

xii

perform a first-hand investigation to demonstrate the motor effect

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
describe qualitatively and quantitatively 94
the force between long parallel currentcarrying conductors:
II
F
=k 1 2
l
d

solve problems using:


II
F
=k 1 2
l
d

94

define torque as the turning moment of


a force using:
t = Fd

115

solve problems and analyse information about the force on current-carrying


conductors in magnetic fields using:
F = BIlsin

92
Act. 4.1

identify that the motor effect is due to


the force acting on a current-carrying
conductor in a magnetic field

90,
116

solve problems and analyse information about simple motors using:


t = nBIAcos

117
Act. 6.2

describe the forces experienced by


a current-carrying loop in a magnetic
field and describe the net result of
the forces

117

identify data sources, gather and process information to qualitatively describe the 91, 119
application of the motor effect in:
Act. 6.1
the galvanometer
the loudspeaker

describe the main features of a DC


electric motor and the role of each
feature

115

identify that the required magnetic


fields in DC motors can be produced
either by current-carrying coils or
permanent magnets

115

2. The relative motion between a conductor and magnetic field is used to generate an electrical voltage
Students learn to:

Page Students:

outline Michael Faradays discovery of


the generation of an electric current by
a moving magnet

100

perform an investigation to model the generation of an electric current by moving 101


a magnet in a coil or a coil near a magnet
Act. 5.1

Page

define magnetic field strength B as


magnetic flux density

101

plan, choose equipment or resources for, and perform a first-hand investigation


to predict and verify the effect on a generated electric current when:
the distance between the coil and magnet is varied
the strength of the magnet is varied
the relative motion between the coil and the magnet is varied

Act. 5.1

describe the concept of magnetic flux


in terms of magnetic flux density and
surface area

101

gather, analyse and present information to explain how induction is used in


cooktops in electric ranges

108
Act. 5.2

describe generated potential difference


as the rate of change of magnetic flux
through a circuit

103

gather secondary information to identify how eddy currents have been utilised in
electromagnetic braking

Act. 5.2
113

account for Lenzs Law in terms of


conservation of energy and relate it to
the production of back emf in motors

105,
120

explain that, in electric motors, back


emf opposes the supply emf

120

explain the production of eddy currents


in terms of Lenzs Law

106

3. Generators are used to provide large scale power production


Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

describe the main components of a


generator

131

plan, choose equipment or resources for, and perform a first-hand investigation


to demonstrate the production of an alternating current

Act. 5.1

compare the structure and function of


a generator to an electric motor

135

gather secondary information to discuss advantages/disadvantages of AC and DC


generators and relate these to their use

135
Act. 7.1

describe the differences between AC


and DC generators

135

analyse secondary information on the competition between Westinghouse and


Edison to supply electricity to cities

141
Act. 7.2

gather and analyse information to identify how transmission lines are:


insulated from supporting structures
protected from lightning strikes

146
Act. 7.3

discuss the energy losses that occur as 144


energy is fed through transmission lines
from the generator to the consumer
assess the effects of the development
of AC generators on society and the
environment

147

xiii

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
4. Transformers allow generated voltage to be either increased or decreased before it is used
Students learn to:

Page Students:

Page

describe the purpose of transformers in


electrical circuits

136

perform an investigation to model the structure of a transformer to demonstrate


how secondary voltage is produced

Act. 7.3

compare step-up and step-down


transformers

137

solve problems and analyse information about transformers using:


Vp
np
=
Vs
ns

137
Act. 7.3

identify the relationship between the


ratio of the number of turns in the
primary and secondary coils and the
ratio of primary to secondary voltage

137

gather, analyse and use available evidence to discuss how difficulties of heating
caused by eddy currents in transformers may be overcome

139
Act. 7.3

explain why voltage transformations are


related to conservation of energy

139

gather and analyse secondary information to discuss the need for transformers in
the transfer of electrical energy from a power station to its point of use

145
Act. 7.3

explain the role of transformers in


electricity substations

142

discuss why some electrical appliances


in the home that are connected to the
mains domestic power supply use a
transformer

136,
144

discuss the impact of the development


of transformers on society

147

5. Motors are used in industries and the home usually to convert electrical energy into more useful forms
of energy
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe the main features of an AC


electric motor

124

perform an investigation to demonstrate the principle of an AC induction motor

Act. 6.3

gather, process and analyse information to identify some of the energy transfers
124,
and transformations involving the conversion of electrical energy into more useful 153
forms in the home and industry
Act. 7.3

Module 3 From Ideas to Implementation


1. Increased understandings of cathode rays led to the development of television
Students learn to:

Students:

Page

explain why the apparent inconsistent


157
behaviour of cathode rays caused
debate as to whether they were charged
particles or electromagnetic waves

Page

perform an investigation and gather first-hand information to observe the


occurrence of different striation patterns for different pressures in discharge
tubes

Act. 8.1

explain that cathode ray tubes allowed


the manipulation of a stream of
charged particles

perform an investigation to demonstrate and identify properties of cathode rays


using discharge tubes:
containing a Maltese cross
containing electric plates
with a fluorescent display screen
containing a glass wheel

Act. 8.2

analyse the information gathered to determine the sign of the charge on


cathode rays

Act. 8.2

solve problem and analyse information using:


F = qvBsin
F = qE
and
V
E=
d

162,
164

157

identify that moving charged particles


in a magnetic field experience a force

164

identify that charged plates produce an


electric field

161

xiv

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
describe quantitatively the force acting 164
on a charge moving through a magnetic
field:
F = qvBsin
discuss qualitatively the electric field
strength due to a point charge, positive
and negative charges and oppositely
charged parallel plates

160

describe quantitatively the electric field 161


due to oppositely charged parallel plates
outline Thomsons experiment to
measure the charge/mass ratio of an
electron

165

outline the role of:


electrodes in the electron gun
the deflection plates or coils
the fluorescent screen
in the cathode ray tube of
conventional TV displays and
oscilloscopes

167

2. The reconceptualisation of the model of light led to an understanding of the photoelectric effect and
black body radiation
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe Hertzs observation of the


effect of a radio wave on a receiver and
the photoelectric effect he produced
but failed to investigate

182

perform an investigation to demonstrate the production and reception of


radio waves

Act. 9.1

outline qualitatively Hertzs experiments 175


in measuring the speed of radio waves
and how they relate to light waves

identify data sources, gather, process and analyse information and use available
evidence to assess Einsteins contribution to quantum theory and its relation to
black body radiation

Act. 9.2

identify Plancks hypothesis that


radiation emitted and absorbed by the
walls of a black body cavity is
quantised

179

identify data sources, gather, process and present information to summarise the
use of the photoelectric effect in photocells

184
Act. 9.3

identify Einsteins contribution to


quantum theory and its relation to
black body radiation

179

solve problems and analyse information using:


E = hf
and
c = f

181
Act. 9.3

explain the particle model of light in


terms of photons with particular energy
and frequency

179

process information to discuss Einstein and Plancks differing views about


whether science research is removed from social and political forces

Act. 9.4

identify the relationships between


179
photon energy, frequency, speed of light
and wavelength:
E = hf
and
c = f

xv

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
3. Limitations of past technologies and increased research into the structure of the atom resulted
in the invention of transistors
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

identify that some electrons in solids


are shared between atoms and move
freely

189

perform an investigation to model the behaviour of semiconductors, including


the creation of a hole or positive charge on the atom that has lost the electron
and the movement of electrons and holes in opposite directions when an
electric field is applied across the semiconductor

Act.
10.1

describe the difference between


conductors, insulators and
semiconductors in terms of band
structures and relative electrical
resistance

189

gather, process and present secondary information to discuss how shortcomings


in available communication technology lead to an increased knowledge of the
properties of materials with particular reference to the invention of the transistor

Act.
10.2

identify absences of electrons in a


191
nearly full band as holes, and recognise
that both electrons and holes help to
carry current

identify data sources, gather, process, analyse information and use available
evidence to assess the impact of the invention of transistors on society with
particular reference to their use in microchips and microprocessors

Act.
10.2

compare qualitatively the relative


number of free electrons that can drift
from atom to atom in conductors,
semiconductors and insulators

190

identify data sources, gather, process and present information to summarise the
effect of light on semiconductors in solar cells

Act.
10.3

identify that the use of germanium in


early transistors is related to lack of
ability to produce other materials of
suitable purity

199

describe how doping a semiconductor


can change its electrical properties

193

identify differences in p and n-type


semiconductors in terms of the relative
number of negative charge carriers and
positive holes

193

describe differences between solid


state and thermionic devices and
discuss why solid state devices
replaced thermionic devices

199

4. Investigations into the electrical properties of particular metals at different temperatures led to the
identification of superconductivity and the exploration of possible applications
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

outline the methods used by the Braggs 208


to determine crystal structure

process information to identify some of the metals, metal alloys and compounds 211
that have been identified as exhibiting the property of superconductivity and their
critical temperatures

identify that metals possess a crystal


lattice structure

209

perform an investigation to demonstrate magnetic levitation

Act.
11.1

describe conduction in metals as a free


movement of electrons unimpeded by
the lattice

209

analyse information to explain why a magnet is able to hover above a


superconducting material that has reached the temperature at which it is
superconducting

Act.
11.1

209
identify that resistance in metals is
increased by the presence of impurities
and scattering of electrons by lattice
vibrations

gather and process information to describe how superconductors and the effects
of magnetic fields have been applied to develop a maglev train

Act.
11.1

describe the occurrence in


215
superconductors below their critical
temperature of a population of electron
pairs unaffected by electrical resistance

process information to discuss possible applications of superconductivity and the 219


effects of those applications on computers, generators and motors and
Act.
transmission of electricity through power grids
11.1

discuss the BCS theory

215

discuss the advantages of using


superconductors and identify
limitations to their use

217

xvi

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid

Module 4 From Quanta to Quarks


1. Problems with the Rutherford model of the atom led to the search for a model that would better explain
the observed phenomena
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

discuss the structure of the Rutherford


model of the atom, the existence of the
nucleus and electron orbits

230,
244

perform a first-hand investigation to observe the visible components of the


hydrogen spectrum

Act.
12.1

analyse the significance of the


hydrogen spectrum in the development
of Bohrs model of the atom

236

process and present diagrammatic information to illustrate Bohrs explanation of


the Balmer series

236
Act.
12.1

define Bohrs postulates

236

solve problems and analyse information using:


1
1
1
= R 2 2

ni
nf

233,
245
Act.
12.1

discuss Plancks contribution to the


concept of quantised energy

231

analyse secondary information to identify the difficulties with the RutherfordBohr model, including its inability to completely explain:
the spectra of larger atoms
the relative intensity of spectral lines
the existence of hyperfine spectral lines
the Zeeman effect

Act.
12.2

describe how Bohrs postulates led to


the development of a mathematical
model to account for the existence of
the hydrogen spectrum:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n
n
f
i

237,
244

discuss the limitations of the Bohr


model of the hydrogen atom

239

2. The limitations of classical physics gave birth to quantum physics


Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe the impact of de Broglies


proposal that any kind of particle has
both wave and particle properties

250,
259

solve problems and analyse information using:


h
=
mv

249,
258

define diffraction and identify that


interference occurs between waves that
have been diffracted

250,
257

gather, process, analyse and present information and use available evidence to
assess the contributions made by Heisenberg and Pauli to the development of
atomic theory

255
Act.
13.1

describe the confirmation of de Broglies 251,


proposal by Davisson and Germer
257
explain the stability of the electron
orbits in the Bohr atom using
de Broglies hypothesis

253,
257

xvii

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
3. The work of Chadwick and Fermi in producing artificial transmutations led to practical applications
of nuclear physics
Students learn to:

Students:

Page

define the components of the nucleus


261,
(protons and neutrons) as nucleons and 278
contrast their properties

Page

perform a first-hand investigation or gather secondary information to observe


radiation emitted from a nucleus using Wilson Cloud Chamber or similar
detection device

Act.
14.1

discuss the importance of conservation


laws to Chadwicks discovery of the
neutron

261,
275

solve problems and analyse information to calculate the mass defect and energy
released in natural transmutation and fission reactions

267,
277

define the term transmutation

263

describe nuclear transmutations due to


natural radioactivity

263

describe Fermis initial experimental


observation of nuclear fission

269

discuss Paulis suggestion of the


existence of neutrino and relate it to
the need to account for the energy
distribution of electrons emitted in
-decay

266,
276

evaluate the relative contributions of


electrostatic and gravitational forces
between nucleons

261

account for the need for the strong


nuclear force and describe its
properties

262

explain the concept of a mass defect


using Einsteins equivalence between
mass and energy

267

describe Fermis demonstration of


a controlled nuclear chain reaction
in 1942

270,
275

compare requirements for controlled


and uncontrolled nuclear chain
reactions

271,
275

4. An understanding of the nucleus has led to large science projects and many applications
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

explain the basic principles of a fission


reactor

280,
298

gather, process and analyse information to assess the significance of the


Manhattan Project to society

280
Act.
15.1

describe some medical and industrial


applications of radioisotopes

283,
298

identify data sources, and gather, process, and analyse information to describe
the use of:
a named isotope in medicine
a named isotope in agriculture
a named isotope in engineering

284,
Act.
15.2

describe how neutron scattering is used 272,


as a probe by referring to the properties 298
of neutrons
identify ways by which physicists
286,
continue to develop their understanding 299
of matter, using accelerators as a probe
to investigate the structure of matter
discuss the key features and
components of the standard model of
matter, including quarks and leptons

xviii

292,
298

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid

Module 5 Medical Physics


1. The properties of ultrasound waves can be used as diagnostic tools
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

identify the differences between


ultrasound and sound in normal
hearing range

305

solve problems and analyse information to calculate the acoustic impedance of


a range of materials, including bone, muscle, soft tissue, fat, blood and air and
explain the types of tissues that ultrasound can be used to examine

312

describe the piezoelectric effect and


308
the effect of using an alternating
potential difference with a piezoelectric
crystal

gather secondary information to observe at least two ultrasound images of


body organs

Act.
16.1

define acoustic impedance:


Z =
and identify that different materials
have different acoustic impedances

310,
311

identify data sources and gather information to observe the flow of blood through
the heart from a Doppler ultrasound video image

Act.
16.2

describe how the principles of acoustic


impedance and reflection and
refraction are applied to ultrasound

311

identify data sources, gather, process and analyse information to describe how
ultrasound is used to measure bone density

315
Act.
16.3

define the ratio of reflected to initial


intensity as:

310

solve problems and analyse information using:


Z =
and

310,
311

I r Z2 Z 1
=
Io Z + Z 2
2
1

I r Z2 Z 1
=
Io Z + Z 2
2
1

identify that the greater the difference


in acoustic impedance between two
materials, the greater is the reflected
proportion of the incident pulse

310

describe situations in which A scans, B


scans and sector scans would be used
and the reasons for the use of each

312

describe the Doppler effect in sound


waves and how it is used in ultrasonics
to obtain flow characteristics of blood
moving through the heart

315

outline some cardiac problems that can 316


be detected through the use of the
Doppler effect

2. The physical properties of electromagnetic radiation can be used as diagnostic tools


Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe how X-rays are currently


produced

321

gather information to observe at least one image of a fracture on an X-ray film


and X-ray images of other body parts

Act.
17.1

compare the differences between soft


and hard X-rays

322

gather secondary information to observe a CAT scan image and compare the
information provided by CAT scans to that provided by an X-ray image for the
same body part

Act.
17.1

explain how a computed axial


tomography (CAT) scan is produced

326

perform a first-hand investigation to demonstrate the transfer of light by


optical fibres

Act.
18.1

describe circumstances where a CAT


scan would be a superior diagnostic
tool compared to either X-rays or
ultrasound

329

gather secondary information to observe internal organs from images produced


by an endoscope

Act.
18.1

explain how an endoscope works in


relation to total internal reflection

334

discuss differences between the role of


coherent and incoherent bundles of
fibres in an endoscope

336

explain how an endoscope is used in:


observing internal organs
obtaining tissue samples of internal
organs for further testing

337

xix

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
3. Radioactivity can be used as a diagnostic tool
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

outline properties of radioactive


isotopes and their half-lives that are
used to obtain scans of organs

340,
343,
344

perform an investigation to compare an image of bone scan with an X-ray image

Act.
19.1

describe how radioactive isotopes may


be metabolised by the body to bind or
accumulate in the target organ

344

gather and process secondary information to compare a scanned image of at least Act.
one healthy body part or organ with a scanned image of its diseased counterpart 19.2

identify that during decay of specific


radioactive nuclei positrons are
given off

342

discuss the interaction of electrons and 342


positrons resulting in the production of
gamma rays
describe how the positron emission
349
tomography (PET) technique is used for
diagnosis

4. The magnetic field produced by nuclear particles can be used as a diagnostic tool
Students learn to:

Students:

Page

identify that the nuclei of certain atoms 355


and molecules behave as small
magnets

Page

perform an investigation to observe images from magnetic resonance image


(MRI) scans, including a comparison of healthy and damaged tissue

Act.
20.1

identify that protons and neutrons in


354
the nucleus have properties of spin and
describe how net spin is obtained

identify data sources, gather, process and present information using available
evidence to explain why MRI scans can be used to:
detect cancerous tissues
identify areas of high blood flow
distinguish between grey and white matter in the brain

Act.
20.1

explain that the behaviour of nuclei


with a net spin, particularly hydrogen,
is related to the magnetic field they
produce

355

gather and process secondary information to identify the function of the


Act.
electromagnet, radio frequency oscillator, radio receiver and computer in the MRI 20.1
equipment

describe the changes that occur in the


orientation of the magnetic axis of
nuclei before and after the application
of a strong magnetic field

355

identify data sources, gather and process information to compare the advantages
and disadvantages of X-rays, CAT scans, PET scans and MRI scans

Act.
20.2

define precessing and relate the


frequency of the precessing to the
composition of the nuclei and the
strength of the applied external
magnetic field

356

gather, analyse information and use available evidence to assess the impact of
medical applications of physics on society

Act.
20.3

discuss the effect of subjecting


precessing nuclei to pulses of radio
waves

357

explain that the amplitude of the signal 359


given out when precessing nuclei relax
is related to the number of nuclei
present
explain that large differences would
360
occur in the relaxation time between
tissue containing hydrogen bound water
molecules and tissues containing other
molecules

xx

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid

Module 6 Astrophysics
1. Our understanding of celestial objects depends upon observations made from Earth or from space
near the Earth
Students learn to:

Page

discuss Galileos use of the telescope to 371


identify features of the Moon
Act.
21.1
discuss why some wavebands can be
more easily detected from space

373

define the terms resolution and


sensitivity of telescopes

375

discuss the problems associated with


ground-based astronomy in terms of
resolution and absorption of radiation
and atmospheric distortion

373,
378

Students:

Page

identify data sources, plan, choose equipment or resources for, and perform an
investigation to demonstrate why it is desirable for telescopes to have a large
diameter objective lens or mirror in terms of both sensitivity and resolution

377
Act.
21.2

outline methods by which the resolution 378,


and/or sensitivity of ground-based
380
systems can be improved, including:
adaptive optics
interferometry
active optics

2. Careful measurement of a celestial objects position in the sky (astrometry) may be used to determine
its distance
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

define the terms parallax, parsec,


light-year

388

solve problems and analyse information to calculate the distance to a star given
its trigonometric parallax using:
1
d =
p

Act.
22.1

explain how trigonometric parallax can


be used to determine the distance to
stars

388

gather and process information to determine the relative limits to trigonometric


parallax distance determinations using recent ground-based and space-based
telescopes

Act.
22.2

discuss the limitations of trigonometric


parallax measurements

389

3. Spectroscopy is a vital tool for astronomers and provides a wealth of information


Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

account for the production of emission


and absorption spectra and compare
these with a continuous black body
spectrum

390

perform a first-hand investigation to examine a variety of spectra produced by


discharge tubes, reflected sunlight, or incandescent filaments

Act.
22.3

describe the technology needed to


measure astronomical spectra

390

analyse information to predict the surface temperature of a star from its intensity/ Act.
wavelength graph
22.4

identify the general types of spectra


produced by stars, emission nebulae,
galaxies and quasars

393

describe the key features of stellar


spectra and describe how these are
used to classify stars

395

describe how spectra can provide


information on surface temperature,
rotational and translational velocity,
density and chemical composition of
stars

393

xxi

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
4. Photometric measurements can be used for determining distance and comparing objects
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

define absolute and apparent


magnitude

398

solve problems and analyse information using:

400

M = m 5 log
and
IA
= 100 (m
IB

d
10

mA)/5

to calculate the absolute or apparent magnitude of stars using data and


a reference star
explain how the concept of magnitude
can be used to determine the distance
to a celestial object

399

perform an investigation to demonstrate the use of filters for photometric


measurements

Act.
22.5

outline spectroscopic parallax

401

identify data sources, gather, process and present information to assess the
impact of improvements in measurement technologies on our understanding of
celestial objects

Act.
22.6

explain how two-colour values (i.e.


colour index, BV) are obtained and
why they are useful

401

describe the advantages of


photoelectric technologies over
photographic methods for photometry

397

5. The study of binary and variable stars reveals vital information about stars
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe binary stars in terms of the


means of their detection: visual,
eclipsing, spectroscopic and
astrometric

411

perform an investigation to model the light curves of eclipsing binaries using


computer simulation

Act.
23.1

explain the importance of binary stars


in determining stellar masses

408

solve problems and analyse information by applying:


4 2r 3
m 1+ m 2 =
GT 2

420

classify variable stars as either intrinsic 413


or extrinsic and periodic or non-periodic
explain the importance of the period
luminosity relationship for determining
the distance of cepheids

xxii

416

Stage 6
Physics syllabus grid
6. Stars evolve and eventually die
Students learn to:

Page

Students:

Page

describe the processes involved in


stellar formation

423

present information by plotting HertzsprungRussell diagrams for:


nearby or brightest stars
stars in a young open cluster
stars in a globular cluster

Act.
24.1

outline the key stages in a stars life


in terms of the physical processes
involved

428

analyse information from an HR diagram and use available evidence to determine 437
the characteristics of a star and its evolutionary stage

describe the types of nuclear reactions


involved in Main-Sequence and postMain Sequence stars

425,
430

present information by plotting on a HR diagram the pathways of stars of 1, 5


and 10 solar masses during their life cycle

discuss the synthesis of elements in


stars by fusion

425,
430

explain how the age of a globular


cluster can be determined from its
zero-age main sequence plot for a
HR diagram

433

explain the concept of star death in


relation to:
planetary nebula
supernovae
white dwarfs
neutron stars/pulsars
black holes

429,
431

437

xxiii

1
Context

Figure 1.0.1 The knowledge of how things


move through space,
influenced by gravity, has
transformed the way we work,
play and think.

Space

Modern physics was born twice. The first time (arguably) was in the 17th century
when Newton used his three laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation to
connect Galileos equations of motion with Keplers laws of planetary motion. Then
early in the 20th century, when many thought physics had almost finished the job of
explaining the universe, it was unexpectedly born again. Einstein, in trying to
understand the nature of light, proposed the special and general theories of
relativity (and simultaneously helped launch quantum mechanics).
Space was the common threadKepler, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were all
trying to understand the motion of objects (or light) through space.
Newtons laws of mechanics and his theory of gravitation led to space
exploration and artificial satellites for communication, navigation and monitoring of
the Earths land, oceans and atmosphere. Einsteins theory of relativity showed that
mass and energy are connected, and that length, mass and even space and time
are rubbery. Relativity has come to underlie most new areas of physics developed
since then, including cosmology, astrophysics, radioactivity, particle physics,
quantum electrodynamics, anything involving very precise measurements of time
and the brain-bending string theory.
So, whenever you use the global positioning system (GPS), consult Google
maps, check the weather report or make an international call on your mobile phone,
remember that the technology involved can be traced directly back to physics that
started 400 years ago.

Figure 1.0.2 The revolution in our

Inquiry activity

understanding of the universe


started with the humble question
of how projectiles move.

Go ballistic!
The path through the air of an object subject only to gravity and air resistance,
is called a ballistic trajectory. If the object is compact and its speed is low, then
air resistance is negligible and its trajectory is a parabola.
Investigate parabolic trajectories using a tennis ball, an A4 piece of paper,
a whiteboard or a blackboard and a digital camera.
1 On a board about 2m wide, draw an accurate grid of horizontal and vertical lines
10cm apart.
2 With a firmly mounted camera, take a movie of a tennis ball thrown slowly in
front of the board. Try different angles and speeds to get eight or more frames
with the ball on screen, and get as much of a clear parabolic shape (including
the point of maximum height) as you can.
3 Using video-editing software, view the best movie, frame by frame, on a
computer. If your software allows it, create a single composite image with all
the balls positions shown on one image, to show the parabolic trajectory.
4 If you cant do that, then for each frame, on the board, and using the grid,
estimate the x- and y-coordinates of the balls centre to the nearest 5cm
or better. Some video software allows you to read the x- and y-coordinates
(in pixels) by clicking on the image.
5 Plot a graph of x versus y to produce a graph of the parabolic trajectory. The graph
might be a bit irregular because of random error in reading the blackboard scale.
6 Video the trajectory of a loosely crumpled-up piece of A4 paper. Now air
resistance is NOT negligible. Does the trajectory still look like an ideal parabola?

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity
What goes up must come down

projectile, trajectory, parabola,


ballistics, vertical and horizontal
components, Galileantransformation,
range, launch angle, time of flight,
inverse square law, law of universal
gravitation, universal gravitation
constant G, gravitational field g, test
mass, central body, density,
gravimeter, low Earth orbit,
gravitational potential energy, escape
velocity, gravitationallybound

One of the powers of physics is that it enables us to find connections


between seemingly unconnected things and then use those
connections to predict new and unexpected phenomena. What
started as separate questions about the shape of the path of
cannonballs through the air and the speed of the Moons orbit around
the Earth eventually led to the law of gravitation. This explained how
the solar system works, but also led to the development of artificial
satellites and spacecraft for the exploration of the
solar system.

1.1 Projectile motion


Up and down, round and round
Before Galileo Galilei (15641642), it was a common belief that an object such
as a cannonball projected through open space (a projectile) would follow a path
(trajectory) through the air in a nearly straight line until it ran out of impetus
and then drop nearly straight down in agreement with the ideas of Aristotle.
However, through experiments (Figure1.1.1) in which he rolled balls off the
edge of a table at different speeds and then marked the position of collisions with
the ground, Galileo demonstrated that the trajectory of a falling ball is actually
part of a parabola (see Figure 1.1.2). Remember that a parabola is the shape of
the graph of a quadratic equation. The immediate result of Galileos discovery
was that the art of firing cannonballs at your enemies became a science (ballistics).
However, there were also more far-reaching, constructive consequences.

Figure 1.1.1 Galileos laboratory notes on his experiments


showing that projectiles follow parabolic paths
4

space

Vertical displacement

Opponents of Copernicus heliocentric universe claimed that if


the Earth was rotating and orbiting the Sun, then a person jumping
vertically into the air would have the ground move under their feet,
so that they would land very far away from where they started.
Galileo argued that a person jumping from a moving Earth is like
a projectile dropped by a rider on a horse (representing the Earth)
moving with a constant velocity (Figure 1.1.3). From the riders point
of view, the projectile would appear to drop vertically, straight to the
ground, accelerating downwards the whole time. A bystander who is
stationary relative to the ground would see the rider, horse and
projectile whoosh past and, like any other projectile, the dropped
object would appear to follow a parabolic trajectory.
Figure 1.1.2
Galileo argued that the parabolic motion of the projectile was
made up of two separable parts: its accelerating vertical motion as
seen by the rider, and its constant horizontal velocity (which is the
same as that of the horse). Recall from your Preliminary physics
course that these two contributions to velocity are called vertical and
horizontal components (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 2.2, p 26).
Galileo then argued that the Earth doesnt zoom away under your feet
because at the moment you jump upwards you already have the same horizontal
component of velocity as the Earths surface. Relative to the Earths surface,
your horizontal velocity is zero and so you land on the same spot.
In connecting the two problems of projectile motion and a moving Earth,
Galileo developed two important new concepts. The first is the idea that
the parabolic trajectory of a projectile can be divided into vertical and
horizontal components. The second is the idea of measuring motion relative
to another moving observer (or frame of reference). The formula
vB (relativetoA)=vBvA (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary, p8) is used to transform
velocities relative to different frames of reference. This formula is sometimes
called the Galilean transformation.

Components of a trajectory
The ideal parabolic trajectory is an approximation that works under two
conditions:
1 Air resistance is negligible (gravity is the only external force).
2 The height and range (horizontal displacement) of the motion are both
small enough that we can ignore the curvature of the Earth.
a

Horizontal displacement

This graph of a parabolic trajectory shows the


vertical and horizontal components of
displacement separately. The projectile
positions are plotted at equal time intervals.

Describe Galileos analysis


of projectile motion.

Describe the trajectory of an


object undergoing projectile
motion within the Earths
gravitational field in terms
of horizontal and vertical
components.

Figure 1.1.3 Trajectory of the riders projectile as seen by (a) the rider and (b) an observer on the ground
5

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity
The first condition is true for compact and low-speed projectiles. The second
is true in almost all human-scale situations, typically at or near the Earths surface.
Lets analyse an example of ideal projectile motion. Recall that the acceleration
due to gravity is g=9.8ms2 (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 1.3). Here we
are going to write it as a vector g. Clearly its direction is downwards.
Consider the trajectory of a ball. We start by separating the horizontal and
While the ball is in the air, the only
vertical components of its motion.
external force on it is gravity acting downwards, so there is a constant vertical
acceleration ay=g, illustrated by the changing vertical spacing of projectile
positions plotted at equal time intervals in Figure 1.1.2.
The net horizontal force is zero, so, consistent with Newtons first law,
horizontal velocity is constant (ax=0), which is clear from the equal horizontal
spacing of the projectile positions plotted at equal time intervals in Figure 1.1.2.
We can recycle the kinematics (SUVAT) equations from the Preliminary
course. (See in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 1.3.)
(4)
s = vt
(1)
s = ut +1 at2
2
u+v

s=
t
(2)
(5)
v2 = u2 + 2as



2
v = u + at
(3)

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 1.1

Activity Manual, Page


1

Table 1.1.1

Equations of projectile motion

Horizontal components

Vertical components

ux = u cos i

uy = usini

vx = ux

vy = uy + gt

x = uxt

1 2
gt
y = uyt +

vx2 = ux2

vy2 = uy2 + 2gy

75

90

60
45

Here we need to apply them separately to the vertical (y) and horizontal (x)
components of motion. Instead of displacement s, well use x=xfxi for
horizontal displacement and y=yfyi for vertical displacement. Well put
subscripts on the initial and final vertical velocities (uy and vy for example). We
only need to use SUVAT equations 3, 4 and 5. i is the launch angle (between
Remember to adjust the sign
the initial velocity u and the horizontal axis).
of g to be consistent with your sign convention. In problems involving gravity, up
is normally taken as positive, making the vector g negative (i.e. g = 9.8 m s2).
In the syllabus, vx2 = ux2 is included for completeness; but is unnecessary,
as it can be derived from vx=ux.
Some properties of ideal parabolic trajectories are:
At the maximum height of the parabola, vertical velocity vy=0.
The trajectory is horizontally symmetrical about the maximum height position.
The projectile takes the same time to rise to the maximum height as it takes to
fall back down to its original height.
For horizontal ground, initial speed = final speed.
Maximum possible height occurs for a 90 launch angle. The maximum
possible range (for horizontal ground) occurs for a 45 launch angle
(Figure 1.1.4).
Independent of their initial velocity, all objects projected horizontally from the
same height have the same time of flight as one dropped from rest
from the same height, because they all have a zero initial vertical velocity
(Figure 1.1.5).

30
15

Figure 1.1.4 For a fixed initial speed, maximum range


occurs for a 45 angle of launch and maximum
height occurs for a 90 angle of launch.
6

space

100mm

Ballistics is a drag

ir resistance or drag introduces deceleration in both the


vertical and horizontal directions, distorting the ballistic
trajectory from an ideal parabola. As a projectile becomes less
compact, air resistance increases relative to weight. The range
decreases, the trajectory becomes less symmetrical, and the
final angle becomes steeper. The launch angle for maximum
range decreases. In extreme cases (for example, a loosely
crushed piece of paper), the trajectory seems to approach
Aristotles prediction: it moves briefly in a nearly straight line
and then drops nearly vertically.
no air resistance

Figure 1.1.5 Multiflash photo of two falling


objects. All horizontally projected
objects have the same time of
flight as an object dropped from
rest from the same height.

Target practice
You now have all the equations you need to do
some damage, so lets launch some projectiles.
Safety warning! The following worked example
may seem dangerously long because it illustrates
several alternative methods of solving projectile
problems rolled into one.

increasing air resistance

Figure 1.1.6 The effect of increasing air resistance

Worked example
Question
You throw a ball into the air (Figure 1.1.7). You release the ball 1.50m above the ground,
with a speed of 15.0ms1, 30.0 above horizontal. The ball eventually hits the ground.
Answer the following questions, assuming air resistance is negligible.
a For how long is the ball in the air before it hits the ground (time of flight)?
b What is the balls maximum height?
c What is the balls horizontal range?
d With what velocity does the ball hit the ground?

Solve problems and analyse


information to calculate the
actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical
components using:
v x2 = u x2
v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
x = uxt
1
y = uyt + ayt2
2

1.50 m

Figure 1.1.7 Throwing a ball into the air


7

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

Solution
Always draw a diagram! Divide the motion into vertical (y) and horizontal (x) components.
Choose the origin to be the point of release, so xi=yi=0.
This is not always the most convenient choice of origin.

Use the sign convention +& + .


Components of initial velocity u (Figure 1.1.8):
ux=+ucosi = +15.0cos30.0 = +13.0ms1
uy=+usini = +15.0sin30.0 = +7.50ms1
The only external force is gravity so vertical acceleration is g=9.80ms2. There is no
horizontal force, therefore ax= 0ms2 (constant horizontal velocity).
fin

al

yu

ial

ini

i = 30.0

it
loc

ve

uy

ve

vy

loc

ity

ux

vx

Figure 1.1.8 Components of initial and final velocities


a The ball hits the ground when vertical displacement y=1.50m.

Find final vertical velocity: vy2 = uy2 + 2gy = 7.502 + 29.801.50 = 85.65

vy =




85.65 = 9.255ms1 (must be downwards), so vy = 9.255ms1

vy = uy + gt = 9.255 = +7.50 + (9.80)t


9. 255 7. 50
Rearrange, solve:
t=
= 1.71s
9 .80
The ball hits the ground 1.71s after being thrown.
Find t:

1
Alternative method using the quadratic formula y = uyt + gt2 = 1.50m
2
1
2
Substitute, rearrange: 1.50 + 7.50t + 9.80t = 0
2
7.5 7.502 + 4 4.90 1.50
= 0.179s or +1.71s
2 4.90

Quadratic, solve for t: t =

Two solutions: Reject the physically irrelevant negative solution, so t=1.71s.

b At maximum height, vertical velocity vy = 0, so use vy2 = uy2 + 2gy.


0 = uy2 + 2gymax = 7.502 + 2(9.80)ymax
7.502
Rearrange, solve:
ymax =
= +2.87m above the point of release,
2 9.80
so height above ground = 2.87m + 1.50m = 4.37m above the ground.

Alternative method

1
Use vy = uy + gt to find the time t when vy = 0, then use y = uyt + gt2 to find
2
vertical displacement.

c From part a, we know the time of flight t=1.71s.



8

Horizontal displacement in this time is:


x = uxt = +13.0ms11.71s = +22.2m = 22.2m (to the right)

space
d x-component of final velocity: vx = +13.0ms1

y-component of final velocity: vy = 9.255ms1 (down) (from part a)

To find magnitude, use Pythagoras theorem (see Figure 1.1.8):


v = v x2 +v y2 = 132 + 9.2552 = 15.96 16.0ms1
v y 9.25
Direction: tanf =
, so f = 35.4 down from horizontal
=
v x 13.0
Alternative magnitude calculation

Negligible air resistance, mechanical energy = kinetic energy + gravitational


potential energy and is conserved (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 4.2). Near
the Earths surface, gravitational potential energy U=mgh. Using the ground as h = 0:
Ki + Ui = Kf + Uf
1 2
1
Cancel m:
mv + mghi = mvf2 + mghf
2 i
2
1
1
Substitute: 15.02 + 9.801.50 = vf2 + 0
2
2

Rearrange, solve: v f = 15.02 + 2 9.80 1.50 = 15.94 15.9ms1

This is the same as for the previous method within the three-figure precision of the
calculation, but doesnt tell us the direction.

In the previous example, time of flight was determined by the vertical


However, if the
componentthe flight ended when the ball hit the ground.
projectile hits a vertical barrier such as a wall, then the time of flight is determined
by the horizontal component.

Worked example
Question
Suppose you kick a ball at 22.0ms1, 20.0 above the horizontal, towards a wall 21.0m
away (Figure 1.1.9). Ignore air resistance and the balls radius.
a What is the balls time of flight (before hitting the wall)?
b At what height does the ball hit the wall?
c Is that the greatest height reached by the ball?

Solution

Solve problems and analyse


information to calculate the
actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical
components using:
v x2 = u x2
v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
x = uxt
1
y = uyt + ayt 2
2

Figure 1.1.9 The ball hits the wall.

Choose the origin to be the initial position, so xi=yi=0. Use the sign convention +
and +.
ux= 22.0cos20.0 (right) = +20.7ms1
uy= 22.0sin20.0 (up) = +7.52ms1
9

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity
a The ball hits the wall when the horizontal displacement x=+21.0m.

Substitute: x = uxt = +21.0m = +20.7ms1t


+21.0 m

= 1.014s 1.01s
+20.7 m s1
1
b The ball hits the wall at a height (vertical displacement) of y = uyt + gt2.
2

Rearrange, solve: t =

Substitute, solve: y = +7.521.014 + 0.59.801.0142 = +2.587

The ball hits the wall 2.59m above ground.

c Check if the ball reaches maximum height of the parabola before hitting the wall.

Time of flight = 1.01s. vy = 0 at maximum height of parabola.

Find the time taken to reach maximum height.

Substitute: vy = 0 = uy + gt = +7.52 + 9.80t

Rearrange, solve: t =

7.52
= 0.767s which is less than time of flight
9.80
The ball would reach the maximum height of the parabola before hitting the wall,
therefore the final height is NOT the maximum height for the trajectory.

Checkpoint 1.1
1
2
3
4
5
6

Determine the horizontal acceleration of a projectile in flight. Determine its vertical acceleration. (Assume
negligible air resistance.)
What angle of launch gives maximum horizontal range? What angle of launch gives the maximum possible height?
(Assume negligible air resistance.)
What is another name for air resistance?
If you throw a ball horizontally from the roof, and drop another at the same time, which one will hit the ground first?
Describe the two conditions that must apply so that a trajectory is a parabola.
List the 8 equations used in calculations of projectile motion. Explain why at least one of them is unnecessary.

1.2 Gravity
In Ptolemys universe, the Sun, Moon and planets each had a separate clockworklike mechanism to keep it in motion. Copernicus and Kepler greatly improved
the picture, but Isaac Newton finally showed there was a single mechanism for
them allthe force of gravity.
The calculations of parabolic trajectories in section 1.1 work well close to the
Earths surface where g is constant. However, if were going to venture out into
space, we cant use these simple equations. We need to look at the force of gravity
on a larger scale.

Newtons law of universal gravitation


Newton assumed several properties of gravity (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
section 13.5):
All massive objects (that is, objects with mass) attract each other. The larger
the masses, the larger the force.
10

space
Like light intensity, the magnitude of the force decreases with distance
according to the inverse square law (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary sections
6.1 and 15.1). However, astronomer Ismael Boulliau had suggested this
before him.
The law of gravitation is universalit applies throughout the universe and is
responsible for the orbits of all the planets and moons.
All this is expressed mathematically as the law of universal gravitation:
FG = G

m1m2
d2

where FG is the magnitude of the force of gravitational attraction between


Define Newtons Law of
Universal Gravitation:
two masses m1 and m2 and d is the distance between their centres of mass (see
in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 3.6). The universal gravitational constant G
mm
F =G 1 2

(big G) is 6.671011 Nm2kg2 in SI units. It should not be confused with
d2
2
little g, 9.8ms .
More properties of gravitation:
The direction of the force acts along the line joining the
centres of the two masses and is always attractive.
The formula is strictly correct for point masses and spheres,
but works well for non-spheres.
The formula must be modified if one mass penetrates the
surface of the othergravity would not approach infinity if
you were to burrow towards the centre of the Earth.
You can see the feeble force of gravity acting
The resultant force on a mass due to the presence of other
between objects in your garage. John Walkers
masses is the vector sum of the individual forces on the first
Fourmilab website describes step by step how
mass due to each of the other individual masses.
you can perform a crude version of the

Try this!

Slightly attractive

Worked example
Question
Calculate the gravitational force between the Earth and the Moon.
Data: Earths mass mE = 5.971024kg

Moons mass mM = 7.351022kg

Average EarthMoon distance dEM = 3.84108m

Universal gravitational constant G = 6.671011 N m2 kg2

Solution

FG = G

Cavendish experiment in your own garage (see


Physics Focus How to weigh the Earth at the
end of this chapter), using commonly found
household items and a video camera.
If youre feeling too lazy to do it yourself,
you can just download sped-up videos of the
experiment in progress.

mEmM
dEM 2

6.67 1011 5.97 1024 7.35 1022


(3.84 108 )2

= 1.981020 N

Figure 1.2.1 Cavendish apparatus at home

11

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity
Now lets try an example with more than two masses.

Worked example
Moon

Question
Earth

spacecraft

Figure 1.2.2 A spacecraft in the


EarthMoon system
FSE

A 1000kg spacecraft is in the vicinity of the EarthMoon system. The spacecraft is at the
origin, the Moon is on the positive yaxis and the Earth is on the positive xaxis (Figure
1.2.2). Given that the Earthspacecraft and Moonspacecraft distances are 3.82108m
and 3.91107m respectively, calculate the resultant gravitational force on the
spacecraft.
Data: Earths mass mE = 5.971024kg

Moons mass mM = 7.351022kg

Universal gravitational constant G = 6.671011 N m2 kg2

Solution
Force due to Moon: FSM = G

FSM

Fres

spacecraft

Figure 1.2.3 Gravitational force vector


diagram. Note; This does not
resemble the position vector
diagram in Figure 1.2.2.

d SM 2

6.67 1011 1000 7.35 1022

Force due to Earth: FSE = G

mSmM

mSmE
d SE 2

(3.91 107 )2

6.67 1011 1000 5.97 1024


(3.82 108 )2

Dont underestimate the power of boredom


Boredom part 1
ored? Dont just write graffititry revolutionising physics! In 1665, an
outbreak of bubonic plague around London closed Cambridge University,
so Isaac Newton (aged 23) escaped for 2 years to his mothers farm. He was
not a very good farmer, so he fended off his city-boy boredom by inventing
calculus and using prisms to show that white light is actually a mixture of
colours (the spectrum). To top this off, when he saw an apple fall off his
mothers tree, he wondered if the force accelerating the apple downwards was
also responsible for keeping the Moon orbiting the Earth.
So he began formulating his theory of gravitation. His mathematics professor
was so impressed that a couple of years after Newton returned to Cambridge,
he resigned and handed his professorship to Newton.
After this initial investigation, it took Newton another 20 years to fully
develop and finally publish his law of universal gravitation.
12

= 2.729N (+x direction)

Magnitude of resultant: Fres = 3.2072 + 2.7292 = 4.21 N


3.207
, so = +49.6 from the xaxis
Direction: tan =
2.729

PHYSICS FEATURE

= 3.207N (+y direction)

1. The history of
physics

3. Applications and
uses of physics

Figure 1.2.4 Graffiti carved on a stone at


the Kings School in Grantham,
England, by Isaac Newton,
then about 10 years old

space

Weight and gravitational fields


As far as we know, the universal gravitational constant G is a fundamental
constant, unchanging with position or time. But the acceleration due to gravity g
is different on other astronomical bodies, at different heights and even at
different positions on the Earths surface.
Recall that weight w=mg is defined as the force on an object due to gravity
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 3.2); in other words, FG = w= mg. Little g,
the acceleration due to gravity, can also be thought of as the strength of the
gravitational field. However, the word weight is usually reserved for the case
in which the gravitational field is due to a body of astronomical size, such as
a planet.
Any massive object can be described as being surrounded by a gravitational
field, a region within which other objects experience an attractive force. Just as
for electrical and magnetic fields (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary sections 10.6,
12.3 and 12.4), we can draw diagrams of gravitational field lines (Figure 1.2.6).
The arrows on the field lines around a mass, point in the direction of the force
acting on another (normally much smaller) test mass. Gravitational field
is a vector (g). The density of the field lines at any particular point in space
represents g, the magnitude of the field at that point, and the direction of the
field lines represents the direction of this vector. Field lines run in radial
directions from point masses or spherical masses.
Using a small test mass m, lets derive g, the magnitude of the gravitational
field due to a planet of mass M. The weight w of the test mass is defined as the
force on m due to the planets gravity; that is:
mM
w=mg=FG=G
d2

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 1.2

Activity Manual, Page


5

Describe a gravitational field


in the region surrounding a
massive object in terms of its
effects on other masses in it.
Define weight as the force
on an object due to a
gravitational field.

Boredom part 2

t is said that, at age 17, Galileo was attending church and, bored,
was watching a lantern swing from the ceiling. Using his pulse as a
stopwatch, he observed that the oscillation period of a pendulum barely
changed as its amplitude gradually decreased. Back at home he started
experiments confirming that the oscillation period depends on pendulum
length L, but not at all on mass and only slightly on amplitude. He
proposed (correctly) that pendulums could be used to create the first
accurate mechanical clocks.
We now know that, consistent with Galileos observations, for a simple
mass-on-string pendulum the formula for oscillation period T is:
T = 2

L
g

The formula is an approximation, but if the maximum swing angle is


less than 15 from vertical, the formula is correct within 0.5%. With this
formula and a pendulum, you can measure the value of littleg, which
varies slightly between locations around the world.

Figure 1.2.5 Young Galileo watches a swinging


lantern in Pisa cathedral.
13

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity
Divide both sides by test mass m:

g=

FG
M
=G 2
m
d

Newtons equation for gravitational force is symmetricalyou can choose


either mass as the test mass and calculate the field around the other and still get
the same magnitude of force when you multiply them together because of
Newtons third law (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 3.5)the two masses
are an actionreaction pair. However, if one of the masses is much larger (such as
a planet), it is more convenient to calculate the field around it and use the
smaller mass as the test mass.
In astronomical situations where one of the bodies (such as a planet or star) is
very much larger, the larger body is sometimes called the central body. Because
of its large mass, the central body experiences negligible gravitational
accelerations compared with a small test mass.
Strictly speaking, the acceleration g is the acceleration of the test mass
towards the common centre of mass of the whole system of two masses.
However, if the central body is much larger than the test mass, we can ignore its
acceleration, so g effectively becomes the acceleration of the test mass towards the
central body.
Gravitational field is a vector, so when calculating the resultant field due to
several bodies, the approach is identical to calculating the resultant gravitational
force due to several bodiescalculate the field due to each individual mass and
then find the vector sum of the fields.

Worked example
Question
Figure 1.2.6 Gravitational field lines around the
Earth (a) on an astronomical scale
and (b) near the surface

Calculate gE the magnitude of the gravitational field at the Earths surface.


Data: Earths mass mE = 5.971024kg

Earths radius rE = 6.37106m

Universal gravitational constant G = 6.671011 N m2 kg2

Solution

gE =

GM E
d2

The test mass is at the Earths surface, d = rE


Substitute:

gE=

6.67 1011 5.97 1024


(6.37 106)2

= 9.81 ms2

This should be a very familiar result.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 1.3

Activity Manual, Page


11

14

Variations in gravitational field


Newtons gravitation equation says that the magnitude of a planets gravitational
field depends on the mass of the planet and decreases with distance from the
planets centre. For example, on Earth, the value of g is 0.28% lower at the top
of Mt Everest than at sea level. Also, because the Earth has a slightly larger radius
near the equator than at the poles (the equatorial bulge), g is slightly lower at
the equator. Except at the poles, there is an additional (fictitious) decrease in g

space

nte

ractiv

measurements that gets more severe as one approaches the equator. Because of the
Earths rotation, the (downward) centripetal acceleration (see
in2 Physics @ Preliminary section2.3) of the ground appears to be subtracted from
the true value of g. In fact this centripetal effect is responsible for the formation
of the equatorial bulge, which was predicted by Newton before it was measured.
The Sun and Moon also exert a weak gravitational force on objects at the
Earths surface, so the magnitude and direction of g vary slightly, depending on
the positions of the Sun and Moon. Variation in g caused by the positions of the
Sun and Moon relative to the oceans is responsible for the pattern of tides.
Strictly speaking, Newtons gravitation equation written in the form
above assumes that the planet is a perfectly uniform sphere. Close to the surface
of a planet, local deviations from uniform density can result in small local changes
in the magnitude and direction of g. The magnitude will be slightly larger than
average when measured on the ground above rock (such as iron ore) of high
density (mass per unit volume) and lower above rock containing low-density
minerals (such as salt or oil), an effect exploited by geologists in mineral
exploration. The Earths crust is less dense than the mantle, so variations in
thickness of the crust also affect g. Variation in g is measured using a gravimeter,
the simplest kind being an accurately known mass suspended from a sensitive
spring balance.
Variations in g on larger distance scales around the Earth can be measured
using satellites orbiting in low Earth orbit. Deviations in the orbital speed of
satellites indicate that, in addition to the equatorial bulge, Earth is also slightly
pear-shapedpointier at the North Pole than the South Pole.

M o d u le

Hookes law

saac Newton had enemies, and Robert


Hooke (16351703) was probably his
greatest. They argued bitterly over
(among other things) who first suggested
the inverse square law for gravity. Hooke
was an accomplished experimental
physicist, astronomer, microscopist,
biologist, linguist, architect and
inventor. He is best remembered for the
discovery of (biological) cells and
the invention of the spring balance (see
in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 3.2),
which exploits Hookes law F=kx.
The force F exerted by a spring is
proportional to x, the change in spring
length. The spring constant k is a
measure of the springs stiffness. A
calibrated spring balance can measure
weight, and, if used with an accurately
calibrated mass, it can be used
as a gravimeter to measure g.

haviour of springs

notes on the be
Figure 1.2.7 Hookes

15

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

Checkpoint 1.2
1
2
3
4
5
6

Write down Newtons law of universal gravitation.


Define weight.
What part of Newtons formula for gravitational force is responsible for the inverse square law behaviour?
What are two names for the quantity g?
List three factors responsible for (real) variations in g around the Earth.
Outline the differences between G and g.

1.3 Gravitational potential energy


Weve already mentioned gravitational potential energy (GPE) U=mgh
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 4.1) in part d of the worked example
accompanying Figure1.1.7. This formula for GPE is an approximation that only
works close to the Earths surface, where g is very nearly constant. Its good
enough for projectile motion but, as you now know, g decreases with distance, so
we need a more accurate formula to understand energy on an astronomical scale.

Work and GPE


Explain that a change in
gravitational potential energy
is related to work done.

Define gravitational potential


energy as the work done to
move an object from a very
large distance away to a point
in a gravitational field:
mm
EP = G 1 2
r

For clarity well use the symbol EP instead of U to denote gravitational potential
energy calculated using the more accurate formula, even though the two symbols
are really interchangeable. Potential energy is energy stored by doing work
against any force (such as gravity) that depends only on position; therefore,
gravitational potential energy EP is energy stored by doing work against the force
of gravity. It can be shown (using calculus to derive the work done against
gravity by changing the separation of two masses) that:
E P = G

m1m2
r

where m1 and m2 are two masses separated by a displacement (or separation) r


and G is the universal gravitational constant. Note that EP is always negative and
EP
approaches zero as displacement r approaches infinity (Figure 1.3.1).
for a separation r is the work that would need to be done by a force opposed to
gravity in moving the masses together, starting at infinite separation where
EP=0 and bringing them to a separation of r (with no net change in speed).
Equivalently, EP is the work done by gravity while the masses are moved
apart, starting at a separation of r to a position of infinite separation (with no
The gravitational potential energy does not depend on
net change in speed).
the path taken by the masses to get to their final positions; it depends only on
the final separation r.
The formula isnt affected by the choice of which mass to move, although
normally we treat a large mass such as the Sun or a planet as an immoveable
central body and the smaller mass as a moveable test mass. The formula seems to
imply that EP approaches negative infinity as the test mass approaches the centre
of a planet. However, this formula no longer applies in this form once one mass
penetrates the surface of the other.
16

space

+GmtmE
r E2

FG

rE

2rE

3rE

4rE

5rE
separation

GmtmE
rE

EP

Figure 1.3.1 Plots of gravitational force (FG) and gravitational potential energy (EP) versus separation

between a test mass mt and the Earth mE, starting at one Earth radius rE. The vertical FG
and EP axes are not drawn to the same scale.

Worked example
Question
A piece of space junk of mass mJ drops from rest from a position of 30000km from the
Earths centre. Calculate the final speed vf it attains when it reaches a height of 1000km
above the Earths surface. Assume that above 1000km, air resistance is negligible.
Data: Earths mass mE = 5.971024kg

Earths radius rE = 6.37106m

Universal gravitational constant G = 6.671011 N m2 kg2

Solution
Air resistance is negligible, so total mechanical energy (kinetic + potential energy) is
conserved. Assume that because of the enormous mass of the Earth, its change in velocity
is negligible. Use the Earth as the frame of reference. Dont forget to convert to SI units.

Cancel mJ:
Substitute:

K i + EPi = Kf + EP
m
m
mm
1
1
mJvi2 G J E = mJvf2 G J E
ri
rf
2
2
0 6.67 1011

5.97 1024

1 2
5.97 1024
11
=

6.67

10

v
f
30.0 106 2
(6.37 + 1.00) 106

106 106

Rearrange, solve: v f = 2 6.67 1011 5.97 1024

7.37 30.0
= 9030 m s1 = 9.03 km s1
Note that this result doesnt depend on mJ.

17

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

Escape velocity: what goes up ?


Outline Newtons concept
of escape velocity.

Isaac Newton showed that what goes up doesnt necessarily come down. Normally,
if one fires a projectile straight up, the object will decelerate until its velocity
changes sign and it falls back down. However, if a projectiles initial velocity is
high enough, the 1/d2 term in the gravity equation will cause the acceleration g to
decrease with height too rapidly to bring the projectile to a stop so it will never
turn backit can escape the planets gravitational field. The minimum velocity
that allows this is called the escape velocity. Strictly speaking, its really a speed,
because the initial direction of the projectile isnt critical.
Newton treated the projectile as a cannonball (with no thrust) so that, other
than the initial impulse from the cannon, the only force acting on it is gravity.
He conceived escape velocity using his force equation, and the escape velocity
formula can be derived from it. However, a more modern derivation using energy
is easier and similar to the previous worked example.
Let m be the mass of a projectile, M the mass of a planet, ve the initial speed
and r the initial position (the planets radius if you are on the surface). Assume air
resistance is negligible, so total mechanical energy (KE + GPE) is conserved (see
in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 4.2).
Ki + EPi = Kf + EPf
The escape velocity represents the minimum limiting case where the projectile
just reaches infinite displacement with zero speed; in other words, Kf=EPf=0.
1
GmM
mve 2
=0+0
2
r

Rearrange, cancel m:

ve =


Explain the concept of escape
velocity in terms of the:
gravitational constant
mass and radius of the planet.

2GM
r

If the initial speed is greater than this, the projectile will maintain a non-zero
speed even as it approaches infinite displacement. Note that the escape velocity
depends only on the planets mass and the projectiles starting position r but not
on the projectiles mass.
You may be puzzled that in the above derivation, the total mechanical energy
(sum of KE and GPE) was exactly zero. This means that the escaping projectile
has just enough (positive) KE to overcome its negative potential energy. When
the mechanical energy is less than zero, there is not enough KE to overcome the
GPE and the two masses are said to be gravitationally bound. When the total
mechanical energy ME>0, the KE can overcome the GPE and the two bodies
are no longer bound together. This concept of binding also applies to the other
three fundamental forces (including electromagnetism, which binds electrons to
the nucleus of an atom).
The escape velocity from the Earths surface is:
2 6.67 10 11 5.97 1024
6.37 10

18

= 11 200 m s 1 = 11.2 km s 1

space
This idealised escape velocity needs to be modified when applied to real
spacecraft. First, the derivation ignores air resistance in the atmosphere
(hundreds of kilometres thick), which would increase the escape velocity.
Second, in a real rocket, engines produce an extra forcethrustthat can
accelerate a craft to a higher altitude where the escape velocity is lower. It also
ignores other sources of gravitational fields such as the Sun, Moon and planets.
The escape velocity for a projectile under the gravitational influence of more
than one body is given by:
ve total = ve12 + ve22 +
where ve total is the escape velocity for the total system and ve1, ve2 are the
escape velocities from the individual bodies within the system, calculated for the
projectile using the same starting position in space.

Ultimate frisbee

as the first artificial object to leave the solar system a giant steel
frisbee? In the 1950s, the US started testing nuclear bombs
underground, to minimise atmospheric nuclear fallout. In 1957, during
Operation Plumbbob in the Pascal-B test, a nuclear bomb was detonated at
the bottom of a 150m shaft sealed with concrete and a 900kg, 10cm thick
steel cap. The steel cap fired upwards at enormous speed and was never
seen again. Before the test, it was estimated that an extreme upper limit for
the speed of the steel cap would be 67 kms1. This is well above the
escape velocity for the whole solar system (43.6 kms1 from Earth), starting
an urban myth that it beat the Voyager probes (launched in 1977) out of the
solar system. A later, more realistic, estimate suggested that, at most, the
cap had a speed of 1.4 kms1, reaching an altitude of less than 95 km.

Checkpoint 1.3
1
2
3
4
5

Define under what circumstances it is suitable to use the simplified formula U = mgh for gravitational potential
energy (GPE).
Write down the more accurate formula for GPE.
What limit does GPE approach as the separation of the two masses approaches infinity?
On what factors does Newtons idealised escape velocity depend?
What other factors affect escape velocity in realistic situations?

19

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 1

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 1.1: Projectiles


Perform a first-hand
investigation, gather
information and analyse data
to calculate initial and final
velocity, maximum height
reached, range and time of
flight of a projectile for a
range of situations by using
simulations, data loggers
and computer analysis.

A ball is rolled down a ramp, whose dimensions will be known to you. Predict where
the ball will land.
Equipment: aluminium track, ball bearing, metre ruler, measuring tape, shoe.
ball bearing

track

ruler

Figure 1.4.1 Equipment set-up


for this activity

Discussion questions
1 List assumptions you have made in order to make an estimate of the range.
2 Assess how reliable is your method.
3 Explain how changing the original angle of the ramp will affect the range
of the ball.

Activity 1.2: Determining the value of acceleration


due to gravity
Perform an investigation and
gather information to determine
a value for acceleration due
to gravity using pendulum
motion or computer-assisted
technology and identify
reason(s) for possible variations
from the value 9.8ms2.

Use the motion of a pendulum to gather


data to determine the acceleration due
to gravity.
Equipment: pendulum (string and mass),
retort stand and clamp, stopwatch,
metre ruler, data logger.

retort stand

string

mass

Figure 1.4.2 Pendulum apparatus set-up

20

space
Discussion questions
1 Explain what you did in order to make the experiment reliable.
2 Galileo originally thought that the period of the pendulum did not depend
at all on the amplitude of the swing. Is this true? Explain how you can take
this into account in your experiment.
3 How does your value compare with the accepted value?
4 Outline another method that would allow you to achieve the same aim.

Activity 1.3: GravityOut of this world


Use the spreadsheet template to gather appropriate information to help you predict
the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of other planets.

Figure 1.4.3 Spreadsheet template


Process the information you have gathered using the spreadsheet template. Complete
the template to calculate the values of acceleration due to gravity on other planets.
Discussion questions
1 Determine which planet has the largest value for acceleration due to gravity
at its surface.
(Note that the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune dont have
a well-defined boundary between the atmosphere and a solid planet surface.
The visible surface is fluid, i.e. gas and/or liquid.)
2 Identify the factors that affect the acceleration due to gravity.

Gather secondary information to


predict the value of acceleration
due to gravity on other planets.
Present information and use
available evidence to discuss
the factors affecting the strength
of the gravitational force.

Analyse information using the


expression:
F = mg
to determine the weight force
for a body on Earth and for the
same body on other planets.

21

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

Chapter summary

If air resistance (drag) is negligible and g is very nearly


constant (for example near a planets surface), then the
trajectory of a projectile is a parabola.
The formula for transforming velocity within one frame
of reference into one relative to another frame of
reference is called the Galilean transformation:
vB(relativetoA)=vBvA
Parabolic projectile motion can divided into vertical and
horizontal components. The vertical component has
a downward acceleration of g and the horizontal
component has a constant velocity.
In parabolic projectile motion, the equations of
motion are:
Horizontal components:
ux = ucosi, vx = ux, x = uxt, vx2 = ux2
Vertical components:
uy = usini, vy = uy + gt, y = uyt + 1 gt2,
2
vy2 = uy2 + 2gy
For horizontal ground, the maximum possible range
occurs for a 45 launch angle. The maximum possible
height occurs for a 90 launch angle.
All objects projected horizontally from a particular
height have the same time of flight as one dropped from
rest from the same height.
If a trajectory ends when the projectile hits the ground,
time of flight is determined by the vertical component.
If the projectile hits a vertical barrier, then time of flight
is determined by the horizontal component.
Newtons law of universal gravitation:
mm
FG = G 1 2 2
d

Gravitational acceleration (g) towards a central body


such as a planet is also called its gravitational field. It
depends on the central body mass M and the distance d
from its centre:
M
g =G 2
d
The force of gravity on an object in that field is called
its weight: w=mg.
Gravitational field g measured near the Earths surface
varies slightly with distance from the Earths centre and
density of the surrounding material. The centripetal
acceleration of the Earths surface also decreases
measured values of g (only an apparent effect).
Gravitational potential energy (GPE) is the work done
by a force opposing gravity in moving masses together
starting at infinite separation and bringing them to
a separation of r (with no net change in speed).
The simple formula for GPE (U = mgh) is an
approximation that only works at or near the surface
of a planet. The more accurate expression is:
mm
E P = G 1 2
r
EP approaches zero as separation of the two masses
approaches infinity.
The minimum initial velocity that a projectile needs to
have in order to escape a planets gravitational field is
called escape velocity:

ve =

2GM
r

Review questions
Physically speaking
Complete each definition by using a keyword taken from the list at the beginning of the chapter.
To approach infinite distance from a massive central body, a projectile must start with _________________.
The path of a projectile is known as a _________________.
The formula for converting velocities between frames of reference is the _________________.
A projectiles maximum horizontal displacement is its _________________.
Universal gravitation and the intensity of light both follow the _________________.
Close to the Earths surface and subject only to gravity, a projectiles path is a _________________.
The acceleration of a _________________ near the central body equals the gravitational field.
Close to the Earths surface, all objects projected horizontally from the same height have the same_________________.
A _________________ is apparatus used to assist in mineral exploration.
If drag is negligible, then a projectiles range is determined only by initial velocity and _________________.

22

space

Reviewing
1 Given that the Earth rotates, account for why when you jump straight up,
you land on the same spot.

2 The high jump and the long jump both involve a run-up and then a jump.
Using ideas from projectile motion, briefly compare and contrast the ideal
characteristics of the run-up and jump for the two sports.

3 A projectile takes 1.25s to reach its maximum height. What is its time of

Solve problems and analyse


information to calculate the
actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical
components using:
vx2 = ux2
v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
1
x = uxt; y = uyt + ayt2
2

flight, assuming the ground is horizontal and drag is negligible?

4 Explain why (assuming negligible air resistance) all objects projected


horizontally from the same height have the same time of flight as an object
dropped from that height, regardless of their initial speed.

5 Predict what would happen to the magnitude of the gravitational force


between two masses:
a if one of the masses were doubled
b if both masses were doubled
c if the distance between the masses were doubled.

6 Describe how (and explain why) g would differ slightly from average at a point
on the Earths surface above an oil deposit.

7 Youve seen diagrams of electrical field lines around positive charges in which

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2

the arrows point outwards (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 10.6).
Briefly discuss the possibility of a planet with gravitational field lines that
point outwards. Propose how you would expect a test mass to behave there.

8 Without doing a calculation, deduce the speed at which a meteorite would hit
the Earths surface if it started from rest at a very large distance from the
Earth. Justify your answer. Ignore air resistance and gravity of other
astronomical bodies. (Hint: The value is one already calculated elsewhere in
this chapter.)

9 Read the definition of gravitational potential energy EP in section 1.3 page 16.
Explain why it is necessary to specify in the definition that the work is done
with no net change in speed. (Hint: What other form of energy is involved?)

Solving problems
10 Repeat the calculation in the worked example accompanying Figure 1.1.7,
assuming that the ball lands on the flat roof of a 2.5m high garage, instead
of the ground.

11 Consider the worked example accompanying Figure 1.1.9. Keeping


everything unchanged except initial speed:
a What would the initial speed of the ball need to be if the ball hit the wall
when it was just at its maximum possible height? What would be its time
of flight?
b What would the initial speed of the ball need to be if the ball hit the
ground just in front of the wall? What be would its time of flight?

Solve problems and analyse


information to calculate the
actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical
components using:
vx2 = ux2
v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
1
x = uxt; y = uyt + ayt2
2

12 By considering the vertical component of velocity and ignoring air resistance,

derive an expression (containing initial speed u and launch angle ) for the
time taken for a projectile near the Earths surface to reach its maximum
height. Then show that the time of flight for a projectile fired over horizontal
ground is given by:
2u
t=
sin
g

23

Cannonballs,
apples, planets
and gravity

13 A marble rolls horizontally off the edge of a 1.00m high table with a speed
of 3.00ms1. Calculate the speed with which it hits the ground, by:
a using the equations of projectile motion
b assuming the conservation of mechanical energy (using the simple
version of the equation for GPE).

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2

14 Repeat the calculation in the worked example accompanying Figure 1.2.2,


with the positions of the Moon and Earth swapped.

15 Using your own mass, calculate the maximum force of gravity exerted by

the planet Mars (m=6.421023kg) on you, given that the closest


approach of Mars to Earth is approximately 5.61010m. How close
would you need to stand to the centre of mass of a 10tonne truck for the
magnitude of the gravitational force it exerts on you to be the same?
(1tonne = 1000kg)

16 Show that g is 0.28% lower on top of Mt Everest (8848 m) than at sea


level. Data: Mean Earth radius rE=6.367106 m.

17 Calculate the change in GPE in moving a 10kg object from an initial


position 1000km above the surface of the Earth to a final position at a
distance from the Earth equivalent to the mean orbital radius of the Moon
(r=3.84108m). Assume the Moon is on the opposite side of its orbit
at the time and you can ignore its gravitational effect.

18 Using the data and answer from Question 17, calculate the speed at which
you would need to project the 10kg object radially outwards from the
initial position so that it would just reach the final position, stop and fall
back to Earth. (You can ignore air resistance above an altitude of
~1000km.)

19

a Calculate the velocity required for a projectile to escape the Suns


gravitational field (mSun=1.991030 kg) if launched from the orbital
radius of the Earth (1.501011m), if the Earth and other planets
werent there.
b Using part a and Earths escape velocity (11.2 km s1), show that the
total escape velocity from the solar system for a projectile launched
from Earth is 43.6 kms1. Assume the projectile doesnt pass near
other planets.

Extension
Solve problems and analyse
information to calculate the
actual velocity of a projectile
from its horizontal and vertical
components using:
v x2 = u x2
v = u + at
vy2 = uy2 + 2ayy
1
x = uxt; y = uyt + ayt2
2

20 By considering the horizontal component of displacement for a projectile


and your answer for Question 12, derive an expression (containing initial
speed u and launch angle ) for the horizontal range. Either by using
calculus or by considering the properties of trigonometric functions, show
that the maximum range is attained for a launch angle of 45.

21 A wildlife reserve ranger needs to hit a monkey in a tree with a tranquiliser


dart in order to capture and examine it. The barrel of the dart gun is
pointing exactly at the monkey. The angle between the barrel of the dart
gun and the horizontal is not 90. At the instant the ranger fires, the
monkey is startled and drops from rest to the ground below.

Re

24

iew

Q uesti o

Show that the dart will hit the monkey. (Hint: Show that by the time the
dart reaches the horizontal position of the monkey, both the dart and
the monkey have the same vertical position. Assume that air resistance
is negligible.)

space

PHYSICS FOCUS
How to weigh the Earth

torsion wire

1. The history of physics


Solve problems and analyse information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2
Analyse the forces involved in uniform circular
motion for a range of objects, including satellites
orbiting the Earth.

Newton first tested his law of universal gravitation


by showing that gravity was responsible for both
the acceleration of a falling apple (9.8ms2) and the
centripetal acceleration (see in2 Physics @
Preliminary section 2.3) of the orbiting Moon.
However, he didnt know the Earths mass ME or the
value of G, but by using ratios of acceleration and
distance squared, he showed that GME = ad2 is the
same for an apple and the Moon, confirming that
the same law of gravity applied to both.
In 1798, the Earths mass was finally measured.
Henry Cavendish (17311810) (who discovered
hydrogen) measured the average density of the Earth
E to be 5.448 times denser than water (1000kgm3).
The experiment was designed by John Michell
(17241793) (who first predicted the existence of
black holes). Since the Earths radius was accurately
known, this was equivalent to both weighing the Earth
and measuring the value of G.
Cavendish used an extremely sensitive torsional
balance (Figure 1.4.4) to measure the tiny
gravitational attraction between two small lead
spheres m (attached to a thin 1.86m rod) and two
nearby large lead spheres M. From the angle of twist
in the calibrated torsion wire, he determined the
gravitational force between the spheres. From this,
and using Newtons equation for gravitational force,
he calculated the Earths average density.
Vibrations, temperature variations and slight air
movements would disturb the apparatus, so it was built
into a small sealed building, with Cavendish outside,
operating the apparatus via cords and pulleys, and
making observations through telescopes in the walls.

F m

Figure 1.4.4 (a) Schematic and (b) cutaway view of the apparatus
used by Cavendish to weigh the Earth

The shift in position of the smaller masses was


about 4mm.
1 Because of Earths gravitational field, the Moon
must accelerate towards Earth. Why doesnt the
Moon crash into Earth?
2 Using Cavendishs value for Earths density ,

the definition =

mass
and the mean radius
volume

rE=6.37106m, calculate the Earths mass and


compare it with the modern value.
3 Using Newtons universal gravitation equation,
Cavendishs value for mE, the modern values for rE
and g=9.8ms2, calculate G and compare it with
the modern value.
4 Using the modern value for G, calculate the total
gravitational force between the spheres measured
by Cavendish. (Hint: Calculate the force between
a small and a large sphere in a single pair and
double it. Ignore the thin rod etc.)
Distance between sphere centres r=0.225m,
large sphere mass M=158kg,
small sphere mass m=0.73 kg
5 Typical laser printer paper weighs 0.080kgm2.
Calculate the size (in mm) of a square piece of
printer paper that would have a weight on Earth
equivalent to the force in Question 4.

25

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
Getting up there

propellant, impulse, exhaust velocity,


reaction device, thrust, payload, g-force,
effectively weightless, lift-off, Keplers laws,
satellite, ellipse, orbital velocity, eccentric,
semimajor axis, periapsis, apoapsis, perihelion,
aphelion, perigee, apogee, hyperbola, closed or
stable orbit, geosynchronous, geostationary,
medium Earth orbit, semi-synchronous,
gravity assist, slingshot effect, re-entry,
orbital decay, drag, lift, supersonic, hypersonic,
shock wave, heat shield, ablation

How many times have you been told to stop dreaming and
be practical? For scientists and engineers, both dreams
and practical know-how were potent tools to turn the
understanding of the physics of gravity and motion into the
technology of space travel. Most of the important pioneers
of rocketry were inspired to pursue dreams of space travel
by reading Jules Vernes (18281905) story From the
Earth to the Moon, or the stories of HGWells
(18661946). But they also had a solid
grounding in physics and engineering.

2.1 Launching spacecraft


In his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Principia for short),
Newton used his law of gravity and laws of motion to explain Keplers laws
of planetary motion, but also predicted the launching of artificial satellites
and projectiles capable of escaping Earths gravity. Once you understand the
physics behind something, it becomes possible to create new technology.
In the case of space flight, it took 300 years to release the potential buried
within Newtons equations, via the 2000-year-old Chinese technology
of fireworks.

A bite-size history of rocketry

Figure 2.1.1 The Apollo 11 mission: the launch


of a Saturn 5 boosterthe largest
rocket in historyon its way to
deliver the first humans to the Moon
26

For most of the history of rocketry, starting with the invention by the
Chinese of gunpowder (the first rocket fuel or propellant) sometime
between 300bc e and 850 c e , the technology was driven mainly by military
applications. The Chinese invented the first rockets or fire arrows (fireworks
tied to arrows). Some of the early milestones of this history are summarised
in Table2.1.1 in the Physics Feature Fire Arrows on page 29.
Only in the 20th century were civilian and scientific applications
of rocketry (space exploration, Earth monitoring and communications)
finally considered to be potentially as important as the military ones.

space
Here well concentrate on the important
rocket researchers of the 20th century, the period
in which the most rapid scientific advances took
place. Below is a list their most important
contributions.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 2.1

Activity Manual, Page


14

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (18571935)


Tsiolkovsky (also Tsiolkovskii), a Russian mathematics teacher, derived the basic
rocketry equations including the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation (see Physics Phile
This is rocket science, p 30), used Newtons definition of escape velocity to
calculate it for Earth, and proposed multi-stage rockets and steerable thrusters.
He advocated the use of liquid propellants (including liquid hydrogen) because
they could be controlled using valves and would give a larger impulse than solids
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 4.5). He also wrote science fiction,
predicting space stations, and space colonies using biological recycling of food
and oxygen and airlocks for moving between a spacecraft and vacuum.
Robert Goddard (18821945)
Goddard, a US physicist, invented and tested many practical aspects of rockets,
launching the first liquid-propellant rockets (liquid oxygengasoline) in 1926.
He confirmed experimentally that rockets work in vacuum and showed that an
hourglass-shaped deLaval steam nozzle greatly increased rocket efficiency. He
launched the first scientific payload (camera, thermometer and barometer) that
parachuted back to Earth, and steered rockets using vanes to direct exhaust gas
and a gimballed (pivoted) nozzle under the automatic control of a gyroscope.
He even experimented with very futuristic ion thrusters. Goddard attracted
public ridicule by predicting travel to the Moon (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
Physics Phile p 43). He was mostly ignored by the US government, but he
strongly influenced Oberth, von Braun and Korolyov (see below).
Robert Esnault-Pelterie or REP (18811957)
REP, a French aircraft designer, wrote on interplanetary travel, calculated the
energies and flight times for trips to the Moon, Venus and Mars and proposed
atomic energy to power interplanetary craft. With Andr Hirsch, he established
the REPHirsch Prize for aeronautics, the first winner being Oberth (below). In
1931, Esnault-Pelterie conducted early experiments with liquid propellants
(petrolliquid oxygen, benzenenitrogen peroxide and tetranitromethane) and
developed a gimballed nozzle.
Herman Oberth (18941989)
The German physicist Oberths PhD thesis describing space travel was initially
rejected as utopian (though it was later accepted), so he published it as an
influential book By Rocket into Planetary Space. In it he developed equations for
space flight, proposed a design for a two-stage rocket using hydrogenoxygen
propellant and described craft for human space exploration. A follow-up book
won him the REPHirsch Prize, which he used to purchase rocket engines for
research assisted by his student Wernher von Braun. He worked (with vonBraun)
on both the Nazi V2 rocket program and later the American rocket program. In
1953 he published Man in Space, proposing space stations, space-based
telescopes and space suits.

Figure 2.1.2 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Figure 2.1.3 Robert Goddard

Figure 2.1.4 Robert Esnault-Pelterie

Figure 2.1.5 Herman Oberth


27

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

Figure 2.1.6 Wernher von Braun

Figure 2.1.7 Sergey Korolyov

Figure 2.1.8 Gerard ONeill

28

Wernher von Braun (19121977)


As a student, von Braun (German physicist and aeronautical engineer) tested
Oberths rocket engines. He was an early amateur researcher in the Spaceflight
Society, which was taken over by the Nazis. Under the Nazis von Braun led the
team that developed the alcoholoxygen-fuelled A4 (or V2) rocket used on
Allied cities including London, killing and wounding thousands. After the war,
he joined the US armys nuclear missile program. He dreamed of a civilian
space program. In magazines and television, he publicly promoted exploration
to the Moon and Mars with permanent colonies and orbiting space stations
serviced by re-usable shuttle-type craft.
In 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, shocking
the US and leading to the space race of the 60s between the USSR and the
US. In response, a civilian space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), was formed, and in 1960 von Braun became director
of its Marshall Space Flight Center. He became a major figure in the race to
the Moon (the Apollo missions) announced in 1961 by President Kennedy.
He led the project to construct the largest rocket ever builtthe Saturn5
(Figure 2.1.1).
As is well known, the US won the race to the Moon in 1969, although they
spent much of the 60s catching up to many USSR space firsts. The race also
led to rapid development of civilian satellites for communications, Earth
surfaceatmospheric monitoring and scientific space exploration.
Sergey Korolyov (also Sergei Korolev) (19071966)
Korolyov, a Ukrainian-born Russian aircraft designer, was known only as the
Chief Designer of the USSR space programhis name was kept secret until
his death. He helped set up the Jet Propulsion Research Group, which
launched liquid-fuelled rockets in 1933, and led to the USSR government
forming the Jet Propulsion Research Institute, with Korolyov as Deputy Chief.
During Stalins Great Purge of 1938, Korolyov was imprisoned for 6 years,
then released to become a rocket designer in the nuclear missile program,
where he quickly improved on the design of captured Nazi V2 missiles.
Like his US rival von Braun, he dreamed of space travel and tried to
convince his government to allow civilian projects. In 1957, he was allowed to
launch the first artificial satellite Sputnik into orbit, starting the space race.
He oversaw a string of space firsts (and failures): first animal (dog) in orbit,
first unmanned Moon landing, first image of the unseen side of the Moon,
first man and first woman in orbit, first extra-vehicular activity (space walk),
first fly-pasts of Venus and Mars and more. Launch failures of four N1 boosters
(rival to von Brauns Saturn 5) and Korolyovs death in 1966 helped to lose
the race to the Moon for the USSR.
Gerard ONeill (19271992)
ONeill, a US physicist, invented the particle storage ring used in particle
accelerators, and an early wireless computer network. He led development of
a satellite positioning systema precursor to the US global positioning system
(GPS). Through conferences, papers and books, he was an energetic advocate
of space travel. He proposed colonies in cylindrical spacecraft positioned at

space
Lagrange points. (These are five stable locations around pairs of orbiting
bodies such as Earth and Moon at which a test mass can remain indefinitely,
requiring little or no thrust.) He suggested that colonists would live on the
inner surface of these cylinders 3km in radius and 20km long. The cylinders
would spin, using centripetal force, to simulate gravity, and the inside would be
covered with Earth-like geography.

Identify data sources, gather,


analyse and present information
on the contribution of one of the
following to the development of
space exploration: Tsiolkovsky,
Oberth, Goddard, EsnaultPelterie, ONeill or von Braun.

PHYSICS FEATURE
Fire arrows

he following table is a
very incomplete summary
of some of the highlights of
the 24-century long history
of rocketry.

Figure 2.1.9 The Chinese character


for rocket translates
literally as fire-arrow.

1. The history of physics

3. Applications and uses


of physics

4. Implications for society


and the environment

Table 2.1.1 Some milestones in the pre-20th century history of rocketry


300 BCE to 850

At some time between these dates, the Chinese invent gunpowder and fireworks.

11501200

The Chinese develop the first rockets, fire arrows (fireworks tied to arrows), and
projectile weapons including grenades and cannons are used against invading
Mongols.

12001300

Invading Mongols bring Chinese rocket technology to Europe and the Arabian
Peninsula.

15291556

Conrad Haas (Austria) proposes the first designs for multi-staged rockets.

1687

Isaac Newton publishes Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica containing


his three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. He defines escape
velocity and predicts artificial satellites.

~1730

German Colonel von Geissler manufactures rockets (up to 54 kg) for warfare.

1792, 1799

Sultan Tipu (India) uses iron-cased 1km range rockets against British troops.

18031806

Impressed by Tipu, Sir William Congreve (Britain) develops more accurate 3km
range rockets up to 136 kg, which were used successfully against Napoleons ships
and against the Americans in the war of 1812.

19th century

Engineers, scientists, inventors and crackpots experiment with non-military


applications of rockets.

1821
18611865

Rocket-propelled harpoons are used to hunt whales.


Rockets are used in the American Civil War.

1865

Science fiction writer Jules Verne (France) publishes From the Earth to the Moon.

1903

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (Russia) publishes reports in which he applies rigorous


physics to rocketry and discusses the possibility of space travel.

29

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

Forces and rockets

This IS rocket
science!

sing calculus and Newtons


second law, Tsiolkovsky derived
his famous delta v rocket
equation:
m
v = v e ln i
mf
where v is the magnitude of
velocity change during a rocket
burn, veis the exhaust velocity and
mi and mf are the initial and final
masses of the rocket (plus
remaining propellant). However, a
recently discovered pamphlet by
William Moore showed he had
derived a similar equation in 1813.

Analyse the changing


acceleration of a rocket
during launch in terms of the:
Law of Conservation
of Momentum
forces experienced
by astronauts.

To understand the forces exerted on rockets and astronauts during take-off,


we first need to define some terms.

Thrust
Tsiolkovsky called a rocket a reaction device. This is because the burning
propellant forms hot, high-pressure exhaust gas that is forced through the nozzle
at high exhaust speed ve. By Newtons third law (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
section 3.5), the large force exerted on the exhaust gas results in a reaction (called
thrust) back on the rocket, pushing it forward. You can use momentum to
calculate the thrust. (See in2 Physics @ Preliminary Worked example, p70.)
Lets analyse the [rocket + propellant + exhaust] as our system. The forces
ejecting exhaust out of the nozzle are internal forces, so they cant change the
net momentum of the system; therefore, momentum gained by the ejected
exhaust (meve) must be cancelled by the [rocket + propellant] gaining equal
and opposite momentum. An increase in momentum (impulse) of the
[rocket + propellant] implies acceleration and, hence, a force (called thrust FT).
Suppose the speed of the exhaust gas ve is constant over a time period t.
The impulse J=FTt exerted on the [rocket + propellant] and the impulse
(meve) exerted on the exhaust gas are equal in magnitude:
J=FTt = (meve) = veme
Rearrange:

FT = v e

me
t

me is the mass of exhaust gas lost per unit time.


Increasing exhaust
t
speed ve is important in rocket design because it increases thrust FT. Even if
thrust FT=mRa is constant, because the mass mR of the [rocket + propellant] is
rapidly reducing, the acceleration a rapidly increases during launch.

FTwhere
= ve

Worked example
Question
The thrust equation doesnt only apply to rockets. A fireman holding a hose was not prepared
when the water was turned on and was knocked over by the unexpected thrust. Water exited
the spout with a speed 39.0ms1 and with a flow rate 470Lmin1.
Calculate the force that knocked him over. (Water density is 1000 kg m3 = 1.00kgL1.)

Solution
Mass flow rate of water = 470Lmin11.00kgL1/60s = 7.833kgs1
me
Equation for thrust: FT = ve
= 39.0ms17.833kgs1 = 305N
t

Rocket engines and stages


There are two basic kinds of rocket engine, those using solid and those using
liquid propellant (Figure 2.1.10). Solid propellant engines are simpler and can
achieve maximum thrust faster, but cannot be controlled once they start. Liquid
propellant engines are more complicated and slower to start, but can be
controlled and produce greater thrust.
A multi-stage rocket can deliver a heavier payload (space cargo) because, when
the propellant in each stage is finished, that stage can be jettisoned (falling into
the ocean) reducing the rockets mass and so allowing for greater payload mass.
Rockets from the space-race era were typically liquid-propelled stages stacked
30

space
vertically. More recent rockets such as the US Space Shuttle and the European
Ariane 5 use a combination of liquid- and solid-propelled stages stacked side-byside. Russian rockets, such as the Proton, use only liquid propellant. Of course,
multi-stage rockets are also more complicated and so have more ways to fail.
In the US, smaller satellites and military missiles are launched using simpler,
solid-fuel rocket engines.

fuel
solid fuel
oxidiser
mixture

g-force
oxidiser
Maybe youve heard that astronauts are squashed by g-force when a rocket
accelerates on take-off. Often the term g-force is used to quantify the effects on
pumps
your body of accelerations experienced in a roller-coaster, car or aeroplane. Its not
combustion
an accurate name, because its value is more closely related to acceleration than
chamber
force, but it is used extensively in aeronautics and astronautics, so well give you
combustion
a commonly used definition. The g refers to acceleration expressed in units of
chamber
g=9.8ms2. The force refers to the fact that a net external force is responsible for
nozzle
nozzle
that acceleration and it is this force and resulting reaction forces within a body that are
responsible for the effects of g-force. Sometimes the term g-load is used instead.
exhaust
exhaust
Lets start with the vertical component of motion and g-force. Consider three
Figure 2.1.10 Typical (a) solid-propellant
situations:
and (b) liquid-propellant
1 While you are sitting or standing still (not accelerating), there is no net force
rocket engines
on you. Your body is compressed by a pair of balanced forcesweight mg
downwards, and the upward normal force N from the seat or floor. (See in2
Physics @ Preliminary p45.) This compression causes the internal effects of
weight. Your body is experiencing the compressive effect of 1 unit of Earth
gravity (i.e. g-force = 1).
2 If you are accelerating upwards, such as riding the bottom of a curve on
a roller-coaster or in a rocket during take-off, the net force is upwards
the normal force from the seat is larger than your weight. Your body compresses
more than usual, as though you are heavier. If your net upward acceleration is
9.8ms2 (1g), then your body is compressed as though you are in a
gravitational field of 1+1=2 units of Earth gravity (i.e. g-force=2).
3 In free-fall (or in orbit), the normal force from the chair disappears and you
Identify why the term g forces
are no longer compressed. You feel effectively weightless (see in2 Physics @
is used to explain the forces
Preliminary pp3738), even though at typical Space Shuttle altitudes you
acting on an astronaut during
actually have ~90% of your weight on Earth. In this case you are experiencing
launch.
g-force=0, the same effect as 0 units of Earth gravity.
The term g-force usually means apparent weight divided by true weight
on Earth. Apparent weight is what appears on a set of bathroom scales. Bathroom
scales actually measure the magnitude of the normal force, not true weight, so,
to calculate g-force, first calculate normal force. Consider vertical motion only.
Weight mg is down and normal force N is up. Let av be vertical acceleration and
let up be positive:

Fnet = mav = N + (mg)
Apparent weight N:

N = mav + (+mg)

The apparent weight increase is caused by the increase in normal force N due
to the term mav, which is simply the net force accelerating you.
Vertical g-force = N mav + ( + mg)
=
mg
mg
a
Vertical g-force = gv + 1
31

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

The First
Astronauts?

ccording to Chinese legend,


in 1500 a senior bureaucrat
(a Mandarin) called Wan Hu
tried to launch himself into
space by tying 47 gunpowder
rockets to a chair. He failed to
become the first astronaut by
dying in the explosion at launch.
In about 1806 in France,
Claude Ruggieri launched
a rocket containing a sheep
~300m into the air, parachuting
it back to Earth alive. The police
prevented him from turning a
small boy into the first astronaut
by the same method.

The agv term in the g-force formula represents the effects of your acceleration
due to the net force and the +1 represents the background effects of your real
weight.
Notice that in free-fall your acceleration is g, so the g-force is 1+1=0.
If you are holding a rope or are strapped into a harness being pulled upwards
instead of sitting or standing, then the above discussion and formulae still apply
except that now your body is being stretched and the normal force is replaced by
the tension force.
The horizontal component of g-force, such as when you accelerate or
decelerate in a car, is easier to calculate. (See in2 Physics @ Preliminary Physics
Phile gWhiz p11.) As there is no horizontal component of weight mg, the
g-force equation simplifies:
Horizontal g-force = agh
To calculate the resultant g-force, combine the vertical and horizontal
components of g-force using vector addition.

Worked example
Question
You round the bottom of an upturning curve on a roller-coaster at a speed of 36.0km h1.
The curve is circular with radius 5.00m. Calculate the g-force you would experience.

Solution
Analyse the forces involved in
uniform circular motion for
a range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth.

At that moment, you experience (upward) centripetal acceleration (see in2 Physics @
Preliminary section 2.3). Calculate the vertical g-force.
36
v = 36 km h1 =
m s1 = 10 m s1
3.6
ac =
Vertical g-force =

v 2 102
=
= 20.0 m s2
R 5.00
av
+20.0
+1 =
+ 1 = 3.04
g
9.80

One effect of g-force is that the apparently increased weight of the blood
drains it from the head, affecting vision and consciousness. On average, 45 g
causes dimming of vision, 56 g visual blackout and above 6 g you experience
loss of consciousness (g-LOC). Much larger g-forces can be tolerated for periods
of less than about 4seconds.
To increase g-force tolerance during launch, astronauts face the direction of
acceleration. This orientation is called eyeballs in, because the eyeballs are
effectively pushed into their sockets. Also, the seats are oriented with the head
and body lying horizontally (Figure 2.1.11). In this way, g-force doesnt easily
force blood into or out of the head. Fighter pilots and astronauts also wear
gsuits containing inflatable bladders in the trousers which squeeze blood out of
the legs and back into the head.
Using a powerful cannon to launch a satellite (see Newtons thought
experiment in section 2.2) would not work because of the enormous g-force
from the initial explosion.
32

space

Figure 2.1.11 Gemini 3 astronauts Gus Grissom


and John Young strapped into their
horizontally oriented seats are being
prepared for launch (1965).

Warning! The terms g-force and g-load are not SI quantities. They are
informal terms and are sometimes used carelessly. Sometimes g-force and g-load
are used to mean the same thing. Sometimes g-load is used to mean only the net
acceleration in units of g, not including the effect of gravity. When reading
g-force or g-load data, be careful to check which definition is being used.

Force during take-off


Here well account for the forces, accelerations and g-force experienced during
a typical launch. This example is for a Space Shuttle, but the principles apply to
other craft. In the Shuttle, the solid rockets boosters and the main liquidpropelled engines fire-up at the same time, while in a more traditional multistage rocket each stage fires sequentially.
Figure 2.1.12 is a graph of g-force experienced by everything within the
Shuttle during launch. Just before lift-off (or take-off ), the vector sum of thrust
plus the force exerted by the gantry (the crane-like structure holding the rocket)
plus the rockets weight is zero, so there is no acceleration. Because acceleration
is zero, the net force on the astronaut is also zero, so the astronauts weight is
balanced by the normal force exerted by the seat: g-force=1 (point A).
After lift-off, thrust is larger in magnitude than rocket weight plus air
resistance, so the rocket (and astronaut) accelerate upwards. Now the seat exerts
a normal force greater than the astronauts weight. The g-force is greater than 1,
increasing steadily, along with acceleration as the mass of remaining propellant
decreases. Note that throughout the launch process, the craft is pitching over
from vertical to horizontal motion, so the gravitational contribution to g-force is
becoming progressively smaller in the direction of motion.
The ~0.2 drop in g-force between points A and B is due to throttle down;
air resistance-induced pressure on the Shuttle surface reaches a dangerous
maximum (maxQ), so thrust is deliberately reduced until the atmosphere thins
out. Thrust is increased again and g-force increases to between 2 and 3 (pointB).
As the mass of remaining propellant decreases, acceleration (and g-force)
increases until fuel in the boosters (or lower stage in a traditional rocket) runs
out. Acceleration decreases dramatically, but the boosters (or empty stages) are
discarded (point C), and the remaining engines provide the thrust. Acceleration
increases again as propellant mass decreases. To avoid the astronauts and payload

Analyse the changing


acceleration of a rocket
during launch in terms of the:
Law of Conservation
of Momentum
forces experienced
by astronauts.

33

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
external tank
separation

C solid rocket

E in orbit

D accelerating up

booster
separation

to orbital speed

3.5

3.0

B reduced

air resistance

g-force

2.5

lift-off

2.0
1.5
1.0

0.5
0

E
100

200

300

400

500

600

Time (s)

Figure 2.1.12 g-force during a typical Shuttle launch

Analyse the forces involved in


uniform circular motion for
a range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth.

Discuss the effect of the


Earths orbital motion and its
rotational motion on the launch
of a rocket.

Earths rotation

being subjected to a dangerously high g-force, the thrust must be reduced to


limit g-force to 3 g (pointD).
Once the rocket is in orbit, the rockets stop firing (point E). The only force
acting now is weight (providing the centripetal force of orbit), so the rocket and
the astronaut are both in free-fall and effectively weightless; the astronaut
experiences a zero g-force.

Running start
It takes a lot of fuel to get a spacecraft to a high enough altitude and high
enough speed to achieve orbit. You can get higher if (like a pole vaulter) you get
a run-up before lift-off. Given that Earth rotates rapidly, a rocket already has a
large easterly tangential velocity at launch. So, if you launch towards the east,
you can use less propellant, carry a larger payload or go into a higher orbit. The
closer you are to the equator, the faster your initial speed u (Figure 2.1.13).
At the equator u=465ms1.

Worked example
Question
Compare Earths rotational tangential speed vT at the rocket launch facilities at Woomera,
Australia (used during the 60s and 70s), and Kourou, French Guiana.

v1
v2
tangential velocity

Figure 2.1.13 Rockets are usually launched


towards the east, to take
advantage of Earths rotation.
The effect is greatest at the
equator.

Data:

Earths radius rE = 6.37106m

Earths rotational period T=86 164s

Woomera: Latitude 31.1S, longitude 136.8E.

Kourou:

Solution
Tangential speed: v T =

Latitude 5.2 N, longitude 52.8W


2R

T

(See in2 Physics @ Preliminary p 29.)

Radius of rotation R depends on lat, the latitude angle: R = rEcoslat


34

space

vT =

2rE
2 6.37 106
cos lat =
cos lat = 465 cos lat
T
86164

Not enough hours


in a day

Woomera: 465cos31.1 = 398ms1


Kourou:

465 cos 5.2 = 463ms

To explore the solar system, you need to reach Earths escape


velocity. As the Earth also orbits the Sun, you can get an extra boost
from Earths orbital speed (about 3.0104ms1) if you launch at
a time of the year when the Earths orbital motion points in the desired
direction (Figure 2.1.14).

direction of Sun

orbital
motion

he absolute period of Earths rotation


as determined from the orientation of
distant stars is only 23h, 56min and 4s,
or 86164s (a sidereal day). The normal
24 hour mean solar day is longer because
it includes the extra time needed for the
Earths rotation to catch up with the extra
component of the Suns apparent motion
in the sky due to the Earths orbit.

Earth

Figure 2.1.14 Interplanetary missions require higher launch


rotational motion

velocities. These launches need to take


advantage of the Earths orbital velocity.

Checkpoint 2.1
1
2
3
4
5
6



7
8

Which two people led the space race between the USSR and the US?
What event triggered the US government to fund a large civilian rocket program?
What are Lagrange points?
Name the two basic kinds of rocket engine.
Explain why a multi-stage rocket allows a heavier payload.
What is the vertical g-force on someone:
a standing stationary?
b in free-fall?
c in orbit?
Explain why the acceleration of a firing rocket increases with time.
Explain one reason why most rockets are launched towards an easterly direction.

2.2 Orbits and gravity


How and why do spacecraft stay up there? Newton, using his three laws of motion
and his law of universal gravitation, showed not only that gravity provided the
centripetal force required to keep the Moon in orbit around the Earth, but also
that he could use his laws to explain all of Keplers laws of planetary motion.
Newton developed a thought experiment to understand orbit. He imagined
standing on a mountain (Figure2.2.1) and firing a projectile horizontally from
a powerful cannon. Gravity would accelerate the projectile towards the ground,

Discuss the importance of


Newtons Law of Universal
Gravitation in understanding
and calculating the motion
of satellites.

35

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
curving it downwards until impact. If you increased the projectiles initial
velocity, it would travel further around the Earth and its trajectory would be less
steeply curved. Eventually you would reach an initial velocity at which the
curvature of the trajectory exactly matched the curvature of the Earth itself, so
that the projectile would never catch up to the groundthe projectile was now
in a circular orbit. The projectile would become an artificial satellite (an object
in orbit around a much larger one) in the same way that the Moon is a natural
satellite of Earth. Newton also showed that if you increased the velocity further,
the orbit would become an ellipse. At high enough velocity (escape velocity), the
projectile would never return.

Figure 2.2.1 This illustration from Newtons


Principia illustrates the
principles behind orbits, and
launching an artificial
satellite.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 2.2

Activity Manual, Page


17

Vi
B

Vf
R

R
Vf

Vi

Figure 2.2.2 This diagram shows the


derivation of the centripetal
acceleration formula.
Define the term orbital velocity
and the quantitative and
qualitative relationship between
orbital velocity, the gravitational
constant, mass of the central
body, mass of the satellite and
the radius of the orbit using
Keplers Law of Periods.

Deriving centripetal force


You have seen the formula for centripetal acceleration ac, but where does it come
from? Look at Figure2.2.2. Suppose an object moves uniformly in a circle. The
magnitudes of the initial and final velocities (vi and vf ) are the same, so call them
both v (v=vi=vf ). The distance travelled d=vt in going from A to B is R
(using radians), giving R=vt, which can be rearranged to:
vt
=
R
To find the instantaneous acceleration rather than the average over a long time,
use a t (and therefore ) that approaches zero.
Consider the v vector diagram on the right in Figure2.2.2. It is an isosceles
triangle with two equal sides of length v. For approaching zero, the length of
v approaches the length of the arc v between vf and vi so:
vv
If you combine this with the previous equation, eliminating , then in
the limit:
v 2t
v =
R
v
v2
Divide both sides by t:
= ac =
t
R
Then of course, to get centripetal force, multiply centripetal acceleration
by mass (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p 46). Dont forget that the magnitude
of tangential velocity is v = 2pr T. For objects in orbit, the tangential velocity is
also called the orbital velocity.

Heaven and Earth


Newton showed that the force acting in the heavens to keep the Moon in orbit
was the same one acting on small projectiles on Earth. He assumed that in both
cases the force is given by his law of universal gravitation. At that time, neither
the Earths mass ME nor the value of G were known, but if you rearrange the
formula:
M m
F = ma = G E
d2
their product GME = ad2 should evidently be the same constant for the orbiting
Moon and a falling apple on Earth. Newton showed that this was true.

36

space
Worked example
Question
Show that GME = ad2 is the same for a falling apple and the orbiting Moon. Assume that
the Moons orbit is circular.
Data:

Earths radius rE=6.37106m

Average EarthMoon distance dEM = 3.84108m

Moons orbital period T=27.3days


Solution
Apple on Earth: GME = ad2 = 9.80ms2(6.37106m)2 = 3.981014m3s2
Moon in orbit: Centripetal acceleration ac =

v
r

2r
4 2r
a = 2
T
T
Orbit radius r = dEM; T=27.3243600 = 2.359106s

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2
Solve problems and analyse
information to calculate the
centripetal force acting on a
satellite undergoing uniform
circular motion about the Earth
using:
mv 2
F =
r
Analyse the forces involved in
uniform circular motion for
a range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth.

Orbital velocity v =

GME = ad2 =

4 2dEM 3
T

4 2 (3.84 108 m)3


6

(2.359 10 s)

= 4.02 1014 m3 s 2

The two values agree within ~1%.

Extension: (Hard) Can you think of a reason for the ~1% discrepancy? (Hint: See Physics
Phile Finding new planets page40.)

Keplers laws and satellites


Johannes Kepler (15711630), using Tycho Brahes data, showed that the known
planets and Earth orbit the Sun in ellipses that obey his three laws of planetary
motion, but he had no idea why. An ellipse is a circle, stretched along one
dimension. The more stretched the ellipse, the more eccentric it is. Most of the
orbits of planets of our solar system are very nearly circular, not very eccentric.
Comets have highly eccentric orbits.
Figure 2.2.3 defines some properties of elliptical orbits. The semimajor axis
is half the length of the ellipses longest axis. It can also be thought of as a kind of
average radius for the orbit. For a circular orbit, the semimajor axis is the radius.
The point of closest approach of the orbit to the central body is called the
periapsis. The furthest point is the apoapsis. If the central body is the Sun, then
these points can also be called perihelion and aphelion (helios is Sun in Greek).
If the central body is the Earth, then they are the perigee and apogee (geos is
Earth in Greek).
Let a be the semimajor axis and let dA and dP be the distances from the
central body to the aphelion and perihelion respectively, then look at Figure
2.2.3a and confirm that a is the average of these: a=(dA+dP)/2.
Keplers laws of planetary motion in the
You had a sneak preview of
Preliminary text (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p 250). Here they are again:
1 The orbits of the planets are ellipses, with the Sun at one focus (Figure 2.2.3a).

37

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
2 A line joining the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times. This
means the planet travels faster when it is closer to the Sun (Figure 2.2.3b).
3 For all planets orbiting the Sun, the square of the orbital period T is
proportional to the cube of the semimajor axis a. This is the law of periods.
T2
a3

constant
= constant

These laws hold for any orbiting system of two bodies if the mass of the
central body is very much larger than the mass of the other. They also apply to
circular orbits, since a circle is a special case of an ellipse.
If c is the half the distance between the foci of an ellipse, then eccentricity e is
defined as e = ac . A circle is an ellipse with zero eccentricity (e=0); both foci are
For a circle, the semimajor axis becomes the
together at the circle centre.
radius, a=r. Orbits of planets in our solar system are very nearly circular, the
two most eccentric being Mercury with e=0.2056 and Mars with e=0.0934.
Pluto has e=0.2482 but, sadly for Pluto-fans, it was demoted to a dwarf planet
in 2006.
a

Sun

semimajor axis

focus

Discuss the importance of


Newtons Law of Universal
Gravitation in understanding
and calculating the motion
of satellites.

perihelion
(closest to
the Sun)

focus

aphelion
(farthest from Sun)

focus

Area

Area

Figure 2.2.3 (a) A highly eccentric elliptical orbit. (b) Keplers law of areas: a line
joining the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times.

Newton derived Keplers laws from his laws of motion and gravitation. He
showed that Keplers first law (law of elliptical orbits) follows from the inverse
square law. By including his three laws of motion, he also proved Keplers second
law (law of equal areas). These derivations are beyond the syllabus; however,
showing Keplers third law, the law of periods, for a circular orbit is very easy.
Careful! Dont confuse the semimajor axis a with centripetal acceleration ac.
Suppose a satellite of mass m orbits a central body of mass M and m<<M
so that the acceleration of M is negligible. In a circular orbit, the satellites
acceleration is centripetal:
2 r
4 2r
v2
ac =
and v =
ac =
r
T
T2
where v is orbital velocity, r is orbital radius and T is orbital period.
The magnitude of gravitational force exerted on m is:
F = mac =

38

GmM
2

ac =

GM
r2

4 2r
T2

T2
r3

42
(which is constant)
GM

space
We derived this for a circular orbit, but it is also true for elliptical orbits if
we replace radius r with semimajor axis a.
T2
a3

42
GM

Because here the value of Keplers constant is explicit, we will call this the
explicit form of Keplers law of periods.

Solve problems and analyse


information using:

Worked example

r3
T

GM
4 2

Question
From Earth, you observe (almost edge on) the orbit of Jupiters moon Ganymede and
determine its orbital period to be T=7.15 Earth days. You measure the width of the orbit
to be w=2.14109m. Assuming the orbit is circular, determine Jupiters mass.

Solution
r=

Assuming orbit is circular:


Explicit form of Keplers third Law:
Rearrange and evaluate:

M=

w
= 1.07 109 m
2

r 3 GM
=
T 2 4 2
4 2r 3
GT 2

4 2 (1.07 109 )3
6.67 1011 (7.15 24 3600)2

= 1.90 1027 kg

An early triumph of the law of universal gravitation occurred when Newtons


friend Edmund Halley used it to show that the trajectory (Figure2.2.4) of a
comet he had observed (now called Halleys Comet) fitted with the trajectories of
two previously observed comets. Halley concluded it was the same comet, and
correctly predicted that it would return every 76 years.
The success of Newtons law of universal gravitation was not simply that it
could be used to explain Keplers laws, which were already known, but that
it could be used to predict other phenomena not yet observed (such as space
travel). It could also be used to accurately predict small deviations of planets from
Keplers ideal orbits around the Sun. For example, when planets pass near each
other, local effects of gravity perturb them from perfect Keplerian orbits. The law
of universal gravitation can be used to predict these deviations very accurately.
Halley included the effects of perturbations due to planets in his comet
calculations. Similar deviations in the orbit of Uranus were attributed to the
gravity of a then unknown planet. Neptune, that new planet, was found in 1846
within 1 of the position predicted using the law of universal gravitation. Several
astronomers contributed to both the calculations and the observations, resulting
in arguments about who deserved credit for discovering Neptune.
The first obvious failure of Newtons gravitation law was in explaining the
observation that the position of the perihelion of Mercurys orbit was not fixed,
but was precessing around the Sun. (See in2 Physics @ Preliminary p255.)
Perturbations due to gravity of other planets and other mechanical effects such as
the Suns equatorial bulge were able to explain 99.23% of the precession, but the
remaining 0.77% required an improved theory of gravitationEinsteins theory
of general relativity.

Uranus

Earth
Halleys
Comet

Neptune

Mars
Jupiter
Saturn

Figure 2.2.4 The eccentric orbit of Halleys


Comet in relation to the nearly
circular orbits of Earth and
other planets. The angle
between the comets orbit and
the plane of the orbits of the
planets is not apparent here.

39

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

Finding new planets

he mass of a large planet is not negligible


compared with the mass of its star, so both
the planet and the star orbit the centre of mass
of the system with the same period; the planet
orbits on a large ellipse and the (more massive)
star on a small one. Planets outside our solar
system (extra-solar) are normally too far and
faint to be seen directly in telescopes, but
astronomers can deduce the presence of a very
massive planet by detecting the small wobble of
the star it orbits, using the Doppler effect. (See
in2 Physics @ Preliminary p259.) As the star
moves towards and then away from us
periodically, its spectrum shifts towards bluer
and then redder wavelengths in succession.

Define the term orbital


velocity and the quantitative
and qualitative relationship
between orbital velocity, the
gravitational constant, mass
of the central body, mass of
the satellite and the radius of
the orbit using Keplers Law
of Periods.

large planet
centre of mass

star

Figure 2.2.5 A large, undetectable distant planet can


cause its parent star to wobble detectably.

Worked example
Question
Derive an expression for the magnitude of orbital velocity for a satellite in a circular orbit, in
terms of mass of the central body M and orbital radius r. Use this expression to calculate
the Moons orbital speed, assuming a circular orbit.
Data:

Average EarthMoon distance d = 3.84108m


Earths mass Me = 5.971024kg

Solution
Gravitational acceleration:

ag =

GM
r2

Resulting centripetal acceleration: ac = ag =

v 2 GM
= 2
r
r

Rearrange:
v=


Moons orbital speed:

v=

GM
for circular orbits
r

6.67 1011 5.97 1024


3.84 108

= 1020 m s1

Note that orbital speed is independent of the mass of the satellite. One of the
consequences of this equation is that for circular orbits, the smaller the radius the
faster the orbital speed.

40

space

Checkpoint 2.2
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

Who first described the principles behind launching artificial satellites?


If an object is in a circular orbit and you increase the orbital speed slightly, describe what happens to the shape
of the orbit.
State the formula for centripetal acceleration.
State Keplers laws. What condition is required in order to apply them to other systems of two bodies?
Define the terms periapsis, perihelion and perigee.
Define the terms apoapsis, aphelion and apogee.
Compare the speed of a satellite at periapsis and apoapsis. Is there an exception?
A circle is also an ellipse. True or False. Explain.
Define the semimajor axis of a circle of radius r.
Name the planet in our solar system with the most eccentric orbit.
Outline the main reason the planets sometimes deviate from Keplers laws. Name the planet that was discovered
because of this and describe (briefly) how.

2.3 Beyond Keplers orbits

central
body

hyperbolic

Isaac Newton showed that all orbits consistent with the Law of
Universal Gravitation and his laws of motion fall into one of four possible
circular
types: the first two suggested by Keplers first lawcircles and ellipses
parabolic
as well as parabolas and hyperbolas. (Remember that a hyperbola is the
curve you get when you graph y = xk ). The central body (if very massive)
would be at the focus of all these curves.
Consider Figure2.3.1 (and Figure 2.2.1). Suppose we increase the
elliptical
speed of the satellite executing the circular orbit. The orbit will become
Figure2.3.1 Gravity allows four possible kinds of orbits.
elliptical. If we further increase the speed so that we reach escape velocity,
the satellite wont return. (See Escape velocity: What goes up ? p 18).
The orbit is a parabola. If we now increase the speed beyond escape velocity,
the orbit becomes a hyperbola.
All these orbits are symmetrical in shape and speedthe speed of
the satellite at any position is identical to its speed at a mirror image position
(although obviously the direction is different).
Circles and ellipses are called closed or stable orbits because the satellite
follows a closed curve, repeating its motion periodically and indefinitely if
undisturbed. However, an object approaching a much larger mass doesnt always
fall into a stable orbit around it. Assuming that it doesnt hit the surface of the
larger mass, an object moving fast enough will execute an open orbita parabola
or a hyperbolaflying off after the encounter, never to return.
The kind of orbit depends on the sign of the mechanical energy ME:
ME = K + E P =

1 2 GmM
mv
2
r

where m is the mass of the satellite and M is the central mass. Here, r is the
instantaneous distance from the central mass. For a circular orbit, r is constant
(= the orbital radius), but r varies with time for an elliptical orbit. In the absence
41

Explaining
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the solar system

Try this!
Plasticine orbital mechanics
Isaac Newton showed that all possible orbits
are examples of conic sections, curves
resulting from taking planar slices of a cone at
different angles. Make an accurate cone out of
plasticine or foam and use a sharp knife to cut
sections to reveal orbital shapes:
Cut horizontally = circle.
Cut parallel to one edge of the cone = parabola.
Cut less steeply than the parabola = ellipse.
Cut more steeply than the parabola = hyperbola.

circle

ellipse

hyperbola

of resistive forces such as air resistance, the mechanical energy is


constant for any orbit. For stable orbits with semimajor axis a:
GmM
ME =
2a
This implies that the lower (more negative) the energy, the
smaller the orbit.
There are three possibilities:
Orbit is closed (circle or ellipse), ME<0. The orbiting
object is gravitationally bound, v<ve (v=orbital velocity,
ve=escape velocity).
Orbit is a parabola, ME=0. The object is borderline
gravitationally unbound, v=ve.
Orbit is a hyperbola, ME>0. The object is gravitationally
unbound, v>ve.
Note that the parabolic orbit described above doesnt have
the same properties as the parabolic trajectory of a projectile
near the Earths surface.
The projectile motion equations in section 1.1 dont
apply to this parabola. The x- and y-components of the motion
dont separate as easily as for down-to-Earth projectile motion.
A projectile passing by a large massive body (without being
captured) follows a hyperbolic orbit (Figure2.3.3), reaching
maximum orbital speed at closest approach. The two arms of a
hyperbolic orbit (like all hyperbolas) tend towards asymptotes;
that is, the further from the central mass an object is, the closer
its path tends towards a straight line and constant speed. Very
rarely, if the projectiles speed coincidentally equals the escape
velocity, it would follow a parabolic orbit.

Worked example

parabola

Figure 2.3.2 All orbits are conic sections.

asymptotes to
hyperbola

Question
A comet of unknown mass mC passes the Sun (MS = 1.991030kg).
At perihelion, the centre-to-centre distance is r=5.081010m and
the speed of the comet is v=7.50104ms1.
What type of orbit is it? Do you expect the comet to return?

Solution
Gm M
GM
1
1
ME = mCv 2 C S = mC v 2 S
2
r
r
2
hyperbola

Figure 2.3.3 A projectile not captured by a


large massive body follows
a hyperbolic orbit (or very
rarely, a parabolic one).

1
6.67 1011 1.99 1030
= mC (7.50 104)2

5.08 1010
2

= mC ( +2.0 108 )
ME > 0, so the orbit is hyperbolic and the comet is not expected to return
(unless later interaction with another body reduces its energy sufficiently).
(Careful! When subtracting two numbers of very similar size, check
that the answer is not smaller than the smallest significant figure in
the calculation.)

42

space
Strictly speaking, when calculating gravitational potential energy, we really
should include the effect of other astronomical bodies such as nearby stars.
However, as long as the other bodies are either too small or too far away, we can
get away with calculating the two-body ME using only the masses of the central
The rules relating ME to the shape of the orbit only
and orbiting body.
apply to the two-body ME.

Orbits close to home


Compare qualitatively low Earth
The vast majority of artificial satellites (and all Space Shuttle and International
and geostationary orbits.
Space Station missions) are launched into what are called low Earth orbits or LEOs
(1602000km above the Earths surface, Figure 2.3.4). Because the atmosphere
Altitude (km) Radius (km)
extends into this range, such orbits also experience some air resistance and so are
GEO
temporary. The LEO band is heavily used and now highly contaminated by
35 794 42 164
orbital debris (space junk), which can be dangerous in a collision. The positions
of more than 8500 objects larger than 10cm are monitored to avoid this.
GPS
However, LEOs have several advantages over higher orbits. Because the
20 230 26 600
altitude (height above sea level) is small, it requires less fuel to reach. Some
commercial communications satellites use LEOs because, being close to Earths
1602000 65308370
surface, transmitters need less power. Military and civilian surveillance and surface
monitoring satellites (for example those used by Google Maps) often use LEOs
LEO
because, being close, photographic resolution of images is high. Also, the orbital
period is short (between 1.5 and 2hours), so there is rapid coverage of the
Earths surface.
Surrounding the Earth are the Van Allen radiation belts, two belts of energetic
Figure 2.3.4 Ranges of typical satellite orbital
electrons and ions trapped from the solar wind by the Earths magnetic field (see
radii. GEO, geostationary orbit;
in2 Physics @ Preliminary p307). Vehicles in LEO below ~1000km altitude are
GPS, global positioning system
protected from this radiation by distance and the atmosphere, so, except for the
(semi-synchronous); and LEO, low
Apollo Moon missions, human spaceflights do not venture above LEO.
Earth orbit. Orbits lying between
LEO and GEO are medium Earth
The explicit form of Keplers third law allows us to choose a useful orbital
orbits (MEO). Below LEO is called
period. For example, if the orbit is circular with a radius of 42164km, then
sub-orbital.
the orbital period of the satellite equals the rotational period of the Earth
(23h 56min 4s; see Physics Phile Not enough hours in a day, p 35). Such
Solve problems and analyse
a satellite is called geosynchronous and would appear over the same patch of
information using:
Earth at the same time each day.

r 3 GM
=
A special case of a geosynchronous orbit is the circular easterly
T 2 4 2
orbit aligned directly over the equator. The satellite follows the
Earths rotation exactly and so appears stationary in the sky.
This is a geostationary or Clarke orbit (Figure 2.3.4).
Fixed Earth-bound dish antennas can be pointed permanently
Are you serious?
at a geostationary satellite. Most communications and
n 1945 in a Wireless World magazine article,
broadcast satellites use this orbit.
science-fiction writer Arthur C Clarke (who wrote
Another special case of a geosynchronous orbit is the
2001: A Space Odyssey) first described how three
Tundra orbit, a highly elliptical orbit that is highly inclined
geostationary satellites could be used to allow
to the equator and designed to dwell for extended periods
continuous, worldwide radio communication, a feat
each day over high latitudes.
not achieved until the mid-60s.
Medium Earth orbits or MEOs have radii between LEO
Aspects of the idea had already been suggested
and geosynchronous orbits. A semi-synchronous satellite
by earlier researchers, although Clarke produced
has an orbital period exactly half of Earths rotation period.
the most complete plan. He didnt patent his multiGlobal positioning system (GPS) satellites are in circular
billion dollar idea because a lawyer convinced him
it was too far-fetched to be taken seriously.
semi-synchronous orbits (Figure 2.3.4) at various angles to

43

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
the equator, so that at any time from anywhere at least six satellites are
contactable. Arctic regions are poorly covered by geostationary satellites, so
Russia uses communications satellites in Molniya orbitshighly elliptical,
semi-synchronous orbits inclined to the equator, designed to dwell over Arctic
regions for many hours each day. Russia and the USA both use such orbits for
spy satellites.

Checkpoint 2.3
1
2
3
4
5
6

Name the four shapes of orbits allowed by Newtons law of universal gravitation.
Describe the orbit normally followed by a projectile passing (without capture) a massive body. Explain why it is
rarely a parabola.
List the three different conditions on the sign of two-body orbital mechanical energy, and name the orbits that result.
Outline why low Earth orbits are temporary.
Describe the Van Allen radiation belts.
Define the terms geostationary, geosynchronous and semi-synchronous.

2.4 Momentum bandits:


the slingshot effect

Identify that a slingshot effect


can be provided by planets for
space probes.

44

Now you know how to get into orbit, but what are you going to do while youre
up there? To tour the solar system on very little propellant, you will need to learn
to hitchhike and steal!
When exploring the outer parts of the solar system with a space probe, you
can save fuel and increase payload space by hitching a ride with some of the
planets. Planets carry an enormous reserve of orbital kinetic energy (and
momentum). By steering a space probe into a temporary hyperbolic orbit around
a planet, you can steal some of its momentum using gravity assist (or the
slingshot effect).
Consider Figure2.4.1. A space probe that approaches a planet (for example
Jupiter) with an inbound speed of Vin, is steered into a hyperbolic orbit by the
Jupiters gravity and leaves in a different direction with an outbound speed Vout.
Judged from Jupiters frame of reference (Figure2.4.1a), Jupiter is the central
mass and, as orbits are symmetrical, the two speeds are equal. Using lower case
text for velocities measured in Jupiters reference frame, vout = vin.
To calculate velocities as seen by an observer stationary relative to the Sun,
we simply add Jupiters velocity (relative to the Sun) to each velocity in Jupiters
reference frame. If we do this, it turns out that Vout>Vin; the trip around Jupiter
has increased the speed of the probe (Figure2.4.1b). Momentum is conserved,
so the probes gain in momentum is exactly balanced by the planets loss of
momentum. However, because of the planets enormous mass, the decrease in
its speed is immeasurably small.

space
We can also treat gravity assist as a perfectly elastic collision (see in2 Physics
@ Preliminary p66). The planet pulls the probe rather than pushing and the
collision is gradual, but the conservation of momentum still applies. It is elastic
because gravity conserves mechanical energythere is no friction. The planet
is like an enormously heavy cricket bat and the probe is a small, highly elastic
superball. In the bats frame of reference, the bat is a stationary immovable
object (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p66), so in a highly elastic collision the
balls speed before and after the collision is practically unchanged. In the frame
of reference of the batsman, however, the ball has been given an increase in speed
by the moving bat.
In 1973, Mariner 10 first used gravity assist (from Venus) to achieve
a flyby of Mercury to gather images and other measurements. The Galileo probe
was launched from a Space Shuttle in 1989, reached Jupiter in 1995 and
studied Jupiters moons until 2003. To reduce the explosion hazard to the
Shuttles astronauts during launch, Galileos fuel requirement was decreased
by using gravity assist, once from Venus and twice from Earth, to slingshot
Galileo to Jupiter. The reduction in Earths orbital velocity was of the order
of only 1018ms1.

spacecrafts
velocity outbound
vout = vin

spacecrafts
trajectory

Jupiter

spacecrafts
velocity
inbound

resultant Vout

Vout > Vin

Worked example

Jupiter

Question
For gravity assist, the maximum possible speed increase occurs for the (unrealistic) extreme
limit at which the spacecraft executes a nearly 180 turn, parallel to the planets orbital
motion (Figure2.4.2).

Jupiters velocity
relative to the Sun
resultant Vin

Figure 2.4.1 Gravitational slingshot in

Show that for this special case, the change in speed of the craft in the Suns frame of
reference is twice the orbital speed of the planet Vp. You can assume that in the Suns
frame, the probes speed is always larger thanVp.

(a) Jupiters frame of


reference and (b) the Suns
frame of reference

Solution
Be careful! Change in speed VoutVin is the change in the magnitude of the velocity, but
it is not the same as the magnitude of change in velocity |VoutVin|.
All labelled velocities in Figure2.4.2 lie in one dimension. Upper case variables denote
quantities in the Suns reference frame, and lower case variables the planets frame.
As usual, bold = vectors, italic = magnitudes and sign = direction.
Vin, Vout and Vp are respectively the spacecrafts incoming and outgoing speeds and
the planets orbital speed in the Suns frame of reference. Because of orbital symmetry, in
the planets frame the spacecrafts incoming and outgoing speeds vin and vout are equal.
Let them both equal v.

vout

vin
b

Vout

Using the Galilean transformation formula vB(rel.toA)=vBvA to convert velocities


in Figure2.4.2a from the planets frame and using the sign convention + :

vin = (v) = Vin Vp = (Vin) (+Vp)

(1)

vout = (+v) = Vout Vp = (+Vout) (+Vp) v = Vout Vp (2)


Equate (1) and (2):
Rearrange:

v = Vin + Vp

v = Vin + Vp = Vout Vp

Vout Vin = V = 2Vp

Vp

Vin

Figure 2.4.2 Hypothetical 180 hyperbolic


orbit in (a) the planets frame
of reference (b) the Suns frame

45

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

Hitchhikers guide to the solar system

nstead of selling burgers, two university students


took summer holiday jobs at the NASA Jet Propulsion
Laboratory and made the next half century of solar
system exploration possible. In 1961, Mike Minovitch
proved that gravity assist was possible, and in 1965
Gary Flandro showed (just in the nick of time) that in
1976, 1977 and 1978 the planets would, by luck, be
suitably aligned for a space probe to hitchhike across
the solar system using gravity assist from Jupiter and
Saturn to explore the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus and Neptune. This grand tour would not be
possible again until about 2157. Two of the resulting
missions, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, provided enormous
advances in planetary science, including the nowfamiliar spectacular images of the outer planets and
their moons. Voyager 1 is now at the boundary between
the solar system and interstellar space.

Voyager 1
Saturn
12 Nov 80

Jupiter
9 July 79

Saturn
26 Aug 81

Jupiter
5 Mar 79

Earth 5 Sept 77
20 Aug 77

Pluto
Aug 89

Uranus
27 Jan 86

Voyager 2
Neptune
01 Sept 89

Figure2.4.3 Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 take the grand tour of the solar
system using gravity assist.

Checkpoint 2.4
1
2
3
4

In a gravity-assist manoeuvre, a probe increases its momentum. Explain how momentum is conserved and why
this might not be obvious to an observer.
During a slingshot manoeuvre, what is the shape of the probes orbit in the planets reference frame?
What can we say about the probes speed (far from the planet), before and after the slingshot manoeuvre, when
viewed from the planets frame?
If VP is the orbital speed of the planet, what is the maximum possible speed increase for a probe executing
gravity assist?

2.5 Im back! Re-entry


It is time to come home. You made it through the launch safely so youre feeling
lucky. However, you still have another dangerous hurdle to jumpcoming back
to Earth or re-entry.

Orbital decay
Account for the orbital decay
of satellites in low Earth orbit.

46

Craft in low Earth orbits do experience some drag or air resistance, because the
atmosphere gradually thins out with altitude in a very roughly exponential trend
(Figure2.5.1). At altitudes above ~1000km, drag is considered negligible. Most
Earth-sensing satellites orbit below this altitude, and so have a limited lifetime.
Drag converts orbital kinetic energy into thermal energy, causing the orbital
radius to decrease (orbital decay). The lower the orbit, the greater the air density
(and drag) and so the faster the orbital decay. Sustained orbits are not possible at

space
100

Density (kg m3)

altitudes below ~160km (sub-orbital). Satellites in low


orbits can counteract decay by firing rockets from time
to time, but only until the propellant runs out.
Eventually, a craft in a decaying orbit spirals down
towards the Earths surface, to burn up catastrophically
like a meteor due to the thermal energy produced by
the enormous drag (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
p57). Drag can be enhanced by solar activity such as
temporary increases in the Suns output of ultraviolet
radiation, which inflates the upper atmosphere,
making the orbital decay rate unpredictable. Normally
a satellite will burn up completely in the atmosphere,
although parts of larger craft (such as the Russian Mir
Space Station or the US Skylab) occasionally make it to
Earths surface.

105

1010

1015

100

200

300

400 500 600


Altitude (km)

700

800

900 1000

Figure2.5.1 Graph of typical air density in the Earths atmosphere


versus altitude

Rest In Pieces

n the late 70s, NASAs first space station, Skylab, was


crippled with low propellant and damaged gyroscopes.
Enhanced solar activity increased its orbital decay and the first
launch of the newly developed Space Shuttle was delayed,
preventing repair missions. So, in July 1979, it fell on Australia.
Pieces too large to burn up on re-entry landed in a line between
Esperance and Rawlinna, Western Australia. Many pieces are in
the Esperance Museum, but the largest (Figure2.5.2) is now in
the United States Space & Rocket Center. The Shire of Esperance
sent the US government a $400 fine for littering. The fine was
finally paid in April 2009 in a Californian radio publicity stunt,
using listeners donations.

of Skylab
Figure2.5.2 The largest surviving fragment

Safe re-entry corridor


If a spacecraft is carrying a human crew, or if the craft needs to be retrieved, then
plunging into a fiery re-entry like a meteorite is not an option. A safer return
from low Earth orbit normally starts by retro-firing rockets to slow the craft
down so it begins to fall into a lower energy, lower altitude orbit. There the
higher air density starts to slow the craft further. At the bottom of LEO, orbital
speed is nearly 7.8kms1. Orbiting spacecraft could not carry enough propellant
to ease down to the surface. The crew has no choice but to head bravely towards
the Earth at the correct angle, using only high technology and clever physics to
protect them.
Safe re-entry is a balance between two forces: drag and lift. Drag is the
deceleration force; lift is the force that keeps an aeroplane in the air. Air moving
relative to the craft creates pressure differences. If pressure underneath is greater
than that above, lift results. The shape and orientation of the craft and the
re-entry angle all affect the ratio of these two forces.

Discuss issues associated with


safe re-entry into the Earths
atmosphere and landing on the
Earths surface.
Identify that there is an
optimum angle for safe re-entry
for a manned spacecraft into
the Earths atmosphere and the
consequences of failing to
achieve this angle.

47

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

s
in

cie
ffi

nt d

rag

re-entry corridor
sive drag
c
ex es

Figure2.5.3 The safe re-entry corridor

The three main issues behind safe re-entry are:


1 minimising the effects of deceleration (g-force)
2 managing the effects of heating
3 landing the craft safely in the right place.
The first two issues lead to the existence of a narrow range of safe re-entry
angles and speeds (Figure2.5.3). Drag is both good and bad. Drag provides the
spacecraft with brakes, but it also produces the copious amounts of thermal
energy that could destroy the craft. If the approach into the atmosphere is at too
shallow an angle, drag will be too small, the air flow will provide too much lift
and the craft will skip over the atmosphere instead of entering. If the angle is
too steep, drag will be too large, producing excessive heat and deceleration g-force,
which would destroy the craft and crew.

Deceleration
As at launch, astronauts seats during re-entry are oriented perpendicular to, and
facing (eyeballs in) the direction of acceleration, but this time acceleration is
opposite to velocity, so they look backwards.
Traditional re-entry vehicles (such as were used in the 1960s and 1970s) were
teardrop-shaped capsules with the blunt end pointing forward (Figure2.5.4).
They allowed very little or no control once re-entry had begun and provided very
little lift. Such a re-entry is called ballistic re-entry and requires larger re-entry
angles. This kind of capsule subjected the astronauts to a maximum re-entry
g-force of anywhere between 6 and 12. The Apollo re-entry angle was between
5.2 and 7.2
The Space Shuttle introduced in 1981 has wings that provide lift and flightcontrol structures (such as elevons, a rudder/speed brake and a body flap) that
allow considerable control over the descent, adjusting the vehicles aerodynamics
to the changing density of the air, and making re-entry more gentle, with a
maximum g-force of about 23. This degree of control also widens the safe re-entry
corridor, allowing a gentle, low-g 12 re-entry. This is called glide re-entry.
To further decrease descent speed without excessive g-force, the Shuttle performs
a series of Sshaped turns by rolling and banking, gently enhancing drag.
The Russian Soyuz capsule, in use continuously (in modified form) since the
1960s, is a more spherical variation of the traditional capsule shape but with
attitude control thrusters, which provide some glide control during re-entry.
It usually yields a g-force of 45, but sometimes up to about 8 for a completely
ballistic re-entry.
Ballistic re-entries are high acceleration but quickbetween 10 and 15
minutes. A full glide re-entry is low acceleration but slowShuttle re-entry,
for example, takes about 45 minutes. Soyuz is intermediate and takes about
30 minutes.
Heating
On re-entry, vehicles travel at well above the speed of sound. The speed of sound
is sometimes called Mach1 (after Ernst Mach (18381916) a physicist and
philosopher who studied gas dynamics). Twice the speed of sound is called
Mach2 and so on. Supersonic means travelling faster than Mach1. Hypersonic
usually means faster than Mach5 (oversimplifying somewhat).
Pressure builds up in front of projectiles. Sudden pressure changes normally
propagate away as sound (at the speed of sound). In supersonic flight, however,
48

space
this pressure wave is too slow to move out of the projectiles way, so the pressure
builds up to very high levels, forming a shock wavethe air equivalent of the
bow wave in front of a speed boat.
The enormous mechanical energy of orbit must go somewhere. Drag
converts it to thermal energy. Contrary to common sense, in hypersonic flight,
a blunt projectile with more drag actually gets less hot than a more streamlined
one. In the 1950s, Harvey Julian Allen proved this theoretically and explained
why the sharp nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles were vaporising on
re-entry. Hypersonic wind tunnel tests (see Figure2.5.5) confirmed his theory.
In hypersonic flight, much of the heat generation takes place in the shock
wave (the dark line wrapping around the front of both projectiles in Figure2.5.5).
The shock wave does not touch the blunt projectile (Figure2.5.5a) and so
doesnt transfer the heat efficiently to it, but it does touch the tip of the sharp
projectile (Figure2.5.5b), which gets much hotter. For this reason, re-entry
vehicles (including the Space Shuttle) are blunt at the front, and hence the
traditional teardrop shape of capsules.
The blunt front of the vehicle is also coated with a suitable heat shield with
very high melting and vaporisation temperatures. It is also highly insulating to
slow the rate of thermal conduction. Thermal insulating materials in most
applications are almost always very porous because tiny pockets of gas are very
poor thermal conductors. Some insulator materials are also designed to be highly
light-absorbing (black) in the visible and near infra-red parts of the spectrum
because such surfaces, when hot, also radiate thermal energy away more
efficiently (radiative cooling).
Tiles on the Shuttle surface are made of 90% porous silica fibre, which is an
excellent high melting point insulator, but it is brittle. The tiles on the hottest
parts (the underside and leading edges) are also coated with a tough black glass
to enhance radiation of thermal energy, but also to provide mechanical strength.
Broken tiles were believed to be responsible for the destruction during re-entry
of the Shuttle Discovery in 2003.
In more traditional space capsule ballistic re-entry, drag is higher, so heat is
generated more rapidly, and insulation and radiation alone are not enough. In
these cases, the insulating heat shield is also designed to vaporise and erode
(ablation). The hot, vaporised and ablated material carries thermal energy away
rather than conduct it to the capsule, similar to the way in which evaporating
sweat carries away excess heat from your skin. The pressure from this ablation
also helps to push away the hot gas convecting from the shock wave. The shield
must be thick enough to last the journey and provide sufficient insulation.
Two modern examples of ablating materials are phenolic impregnated carbon
ablator (PICA) and silicone impregnated reusable ceramic ablator (SIRCA). In
the Chinese space program, one of the ablation materials used is blocks of oak
wood. Its cheap and easy to work. As it chars, it forms charcoal, which is porous
and almost pure carbon, making it an extraordinarily good thermal insulator
with a very high melting point. Another advantage is that porous carbon is very
black and radiates thermal energy efficiently. However, it is mechanically weaker
than more high-tech ablation materials.
During re-entry, superheated air surrounding the vehicle is ionised. The air
becomes a plasmaa conductive soup of free positive and negative charges that,
like the Earths ionosphere (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary pp1534), reflects

Figure 2.5.4 Re-entry vehicles: (a)Gemini


19641966 (b)Apollo 19661975
(c)Soyuz 1960present
(d)Space Shuttle 1981present
49

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system
a

Figure2.5.5 Hypersonic wind tunnel tests. (a) The crescent-shaped shock wave is detached from
the blunt projectile, but (b) touches the tip of the sharp projectile.

radio waves, so the astronauts cannot communicate with the Earth for several
minutes during re-entry. This problem has been solved for the Shuttle by
communicating via a satellite above it, since only the bottom of the Shuttle has
significant ionisation.

Landing
Drag depends on the projectiles cross-sectional area and speed. Drag cannot stop
a projectile completely because, during deceleration, drag decreases until it
exactly cancels the weight of the projectile and deceleration stopsthe projectile
has reached terminal speed (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p45). The terminal
speed of a capsule is too high for it to land safely. To slow the capsule further for
the landing, drag is enhanced (and terminal speed decreased) by using parachutes
to increase the effective area of the capsule.
The final touchdown could be on land (typical of Russian missions) or a
splashdown in the water (typical of US missions pre-Shuttle). Russian Soyuz
also has soft-landing engines that fire just before it touches the ground.
The Space Shuttle lands on a runway, much like an aeroplane (Figure2.5.6)
but it uses parachutes to help it brake. During landing, the Shuttle (which has
been described as being like flying a brick with wings) is controlled entirely by
computer.
Another issue is accurate targeting of the landing site. The steeper the
re-entry angle, the smaller the horizontal component of motion (range) and so
the more accurate the prediction of the final landing site. However, the Shuttle
makes up for its shallow re-entry, because its aeroplane-like flight-control
structures allow adjustment of the landing path. The shape of the landing path is
also designed to be more forgiving. The Shuttle approaches the runway roughly
opposite to the landing direction. Fourminutes from touchdown, it does a
heading-alignment loop, to adjust precisely to the direction of the runway
(Figure 2.5.6).

50

space

Altitude 25 000 m

Mojave
Runw
ay 23
E
d
Airfor wards
ce Ba
se

Figure 2.5.6 Scale drawing of the relatively gentle descent of the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle is
drawn at 1minute intervals to touchdown. The squares on the ground are 10 nautical
miles (18.5km) wide.

Checkpoint 2.5
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

Define orbital decay and explain what causes it.


Because of drag, satellites at altitudes below ~1000km can do nothing to combat orbital decay. True or False?
Explain.
What other astronomical body can affect the rate of orbital decay? Explain.
Discuss how drag is good and bad for re-entry.
Outline what can happen if a spacecraft attempts re-entry with too shallow or too steep an angle.
Explain why astronauts face backwards during re-entry, unlike at launch.
Outline why occupants of the Space Shuttle experience lower g-force during re-entry than in the more traditional
re-entry vehicles.
Define the terms supersonic and hypersonic.
What is a shock wave?
Outline why a pointy hypersonic projectile is more likely to melt than a blunt one.
Explain why a capsule with a parachute slows down more than without one.

51

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 2

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 2.1: Development of space exploration


Identify data sources, gather,
analyse and present
information on the contribution
of one of the following to the
development of space
exploration: Tsiolkovsky,
Oberth, Goddard, EsnaultPelterie, ONeill or von Braun.

Use the template provided in the activity manual to extract information about
your chosen scientist. Process this information to make a short oral presentation
to the class.
Discussion questions
1 For the scientist that you have researched, list their main contributions
to space exploration.
2 Explain how later scientists have benefited from this research.
Extension
3 Werner von Brauns great Russian rival, the Chief Designer for the USSR
space program Sergey Korolyov, is not as familiar as some of the names
mentioned in the syllabus, despite leading the launch of the first artificial
satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. This is probably because his name was kept
secret by the communist government of the USSR until after his death in
1966. You may also want to research his contribution to space exploration.

Activity 2.2: Uniform circular motion


Solve problems and analyse
information to calculate the
centripetal force acting on
a satellite undergoing uniform
circular motion about the
Earth using:

F =m

v2
r

Perform an experiment that will allow you to determine the relationship between
the radius of a satellites orbit around the Earth and its gravitational force.
Equipment: string, rubber stopper, mass carrier and masses, electronic scales,
glass or plastic tube, paperclip, sticky tape, metre ruler, stopwatch.
Discussion questions
1 From your experimental data,
determine the mathematical
relationship between the
orbital radius of a satellite and
its tangential velocity for a
given centripetal force.
2 Describe the method you
would use to determine the
centripetal force on a small
model satellite.

tension
glass or
plastic tube
paperclip

string

mass carrier

Figure 2.6.1 Force on mass moving in a


horizontal circle

52

mg

Chapter summary







Rocket thrust is the reaction to the force exerted on the


exhaust exiting the nozzle.
For a fixed mass of exhaust per unit time, thrust
increases as exhaust speed increases.
As the mass of remaining propellant decreases, a rockets
acceleration (and g-force) increases.
There are two kinds of rocket engines: liquid and solid
propelled.
By jettisoning used stages, a rockets mass is decreased,
allowing more payload to be carried.
g-force is the apparent weight experienced during
acceleration, divided by true weight on Earth.
a
a
Vertical g-force = v + 1. Horizontal g-force = h .
g
g
To increase g-force tolerance, astronauts are seated with
bodies horizontal, and looking in the direction of the
acceleration (eyeballs in) for both lift-off and re-entry.
A spacecraft launched eastwards has the extra initial
velocity of Earths rotation. This is greatest at the
equator (465ms1).
Launches in the direction of Earths orbital velocity
obtain an initial velocity boost of 3.0104ms1.
Gravity provides the centripetal force for satellite orbits:

mv 2
(for circular orbits)
R
Keplers laws (apply to any two bodies if the central
body has a very much larger mass):
1 Orbits of planets are ellipses, with the Sun at one
focus.
2 Planets sweep out equal areas in equal times.
T2
3 Law of periods:
= a constant
a3
a 3 GM
Explicit form of Keplers third law:
=
T 2 42
Eccentricity is a measure of the elongation of an ellipse.
A circle is an ellipse of zero eccentricity.
Periapsis is the position of closest approach to the
central mass and fastest orbital speed (perihelion for the
Sun, perigee for Earth).
Apoapsis is the position of furthest distance from the
central mass and slowest orbital speed (aphelion for
the Sun, apogee for Earth).
If the mass of a satellite is not negligible when compared
to that of the central body, then both masses orbit with
the same period around the systems centre of mass.

Fc =

space

GM
r
Two-body orbital mechanical energy
1
GmM :
ME = mv 2
2
r
Magnitude of orbital speed: v =

ME<0 (bound), orbit is closed or stable (circle


or ellipse); velocity < escape velocity
ME=0 (borderline unbound) orbit is parabolic;
velocity = escape velocity
ME>0 (unbound), orbit is hyperbolic;
velocity > escape velocity
GmM
.
For stable orbits, ME =
2a
Orbits are symmetrical in shape and speed.
Low Earth orbit (LEO): altitude between ~160 and
~2000km.
At altitudes below ~1000km, drag causes orbital decay.
Upper atmosphere can be inflated by increased solar UV
radiation, increasing drag.
Orbits below ~1000km are protected from the Van
Allen radiation belts by the atmosphere and distance.
Geosynchronous orbit: T = 1 sidereal day
(23h 56m 4s).
Circular geosynchronous orbits over the equator are
called geostationary. These orbits are used extensively
for communication satellites (r=42164km).
A space probe entering a temporary hyperbolic orbit
behind an orbiting planet can gain momentum via
gravity assist or the slingshot effect.
For gravity assist, the maximum possible change in
speed of the probe in the Suns frame of reference is
twice the planets orbital speed Vp.
Drag converts orbital KE into thermal energy.
Safe re-entry angle: if angle is too low, the craft will skip
off atmosphere; if angle is too high, g-force and heating
rate are too large.
Much heating takes place in the hypersonic shock wave.
Blunt-fronted re-entry vehicles are used because the
shock wave is detached from the craft.
Heating of a spacecraft on re-entry is reduced by an
insulating and radiating heat shield.
Traditional capsules also use ablation of the heat shield
to dissipate heat.
Parachutes decrease terminal velocity by increasing the
effective cross-sectional area.

53

Review questions

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

Physically speaking
For each type of orbit, fill in the missing information. One has been done already.

Name of orbit

Sign of two-body ME

Open or closed

v >, =, < vescape

Bound or unbound

Negative

Closed

<

Bound

Geostationary
Slingshot (in planets frame)
Elliptical
Hohmann (see Physics Focus)
Parabolic
Hyperbolic
Halleys Comet
Circular
Molniya

Reviewing
Solve problems and analyse
information to calculate the
centripetal force acting on a
satellite undergoing uniform
circular motion about the
Earth using:
2

mv
r
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2
Analyse the forces involved
in uniform circular motion
for a range of objects,
including satellites orbiting
the Earth.
F =

1 What was the first solid rocket propellant and who invented it?
2 Assuming that propellant is burned at a constant mass per unit time, use the
equation for thrust to explain why forcing exhaust gas through a narrow nozzle
increases thrust.

3 List the advantages of both solid and liquid propellants.


4 Discuss why the vertical g-force formula has a + 1 term, but the horizontal
formula doesnt.

5 Describe a situation during launch in which astronauts would experience a g-force


greater than zero but less than 1.

6 At the bottom of a bungee jump with the cord attached to the ankles, one can
easily experience a g-force of 3, the maximum normally allowed for Shuttle
launches. Describe three important differences in the way the g-force is
experienced in these two situations.

7 Explain why launch facilities are usually built as close to the equator as
is practical.

8 Describe the circumstances under which a star would not sit at the focus of
a planets elliptical orbit.

9 Discuss why we only briefly see Halleys Comet with an unaided eye every 76 years,
even though it is in orbit continuously around the Sun.

10 Outline what happens to the period of a satellite if its semimajor axis is reduced
by a factor of 4.

11 A space probe approaches a planet in a hyperbolic orbit. Discuss the condition


that must be fulfilled to move it into a stable orbit of the planet and describe how
it might be achieved.

12 By re-examining the gravity assist worked example on page 45, show that the
magnitude of change in the probes velocity in the Suns reference frame is twice
the probes initial speed in the planets reference frame (that is, |VoutVin|=2v).

13 A satellite is in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth such that, at perigee, it is


briefly at an altitude of less than 1000km. Over many orbits, the altitude at
apogee decreases (the orbit becoming more circular). Explain why this occurs.

14 List two reasons why (human-crewed) space stations are always in low Earth orbit.
54

space

Solving Problems
15 Calculate the two-body gravitational potential energy for a system consisting

Analyse the forces involved in


uniform circular motion for a
range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth.

of a 1.00kg test mass sitting on the surface of the Earth. How far would
the test mass need to be from the Sun so that the two-body GPE of the
test massSun system is the same value? Estimate roughly where that
position would be in relation to the orbital radii of the planets.

16 Typically, at launch, the Shuttles main engines, with an effective exhaust


velocity of 4460ms1, produce a thrust of 5.45106N. The two solidfuel rocket boosters, with an effective exhaust velocity of 2640ms1,
produce 1.250107N each.
a Calculate the combined rate (in kgs1) at which propellant is used
at launch.
b Assuming a mass at launch of 2.03106kg, calculate the Shuttles
acceleration at launch and 1minute later, assuming the above
specifications remain constant. (Hint: Dont forget gravity.)

17 On a roller-coaster, you round the top of a circular hump in the track of

5.00m radius. You have a g-force meter with you and at the moment
youre at the top it reads a vertical g-force of 0.00.
a What is your weight at that moment?
b What is the magnitude of the normal force exerted on you by the seat
at that moment?
c What is your centripetal acceleration?
d Calculate your speed at the top.
e Assuming friction and air resistance are negligible, calculate your
horizontal g-force at that moment.

18 Prunella spins a weight (mass m) on a string (length L) in a horizontal

Solve problems and analyse


information to calculate the
centripetal force acting on a
satellite undergoing uniform
circular motion about the Earth
using:

circle (Figure2.6.2) to illustrate the relationship between orbital speed


and centripetal force for an orbiting satellite. Renfrew says: Because of
the weight, the string isnt horizontal so the orbital radius is R=Lsin,
and the centripetal force is Fc=T sin.

Prunella then says: Yeah, but as long as the orbital speed v is high

enough, will be very close to 90 so you can use the approximation that
string tension T is the centripetal force and the string length L represents
orbital radius R.
v2
Show that as long as orbital speed v fulfils the condition
>7g,
R
then L is no more than 1% larger than the true orbital
radius R and T is no more than 1% larger than the true
centripetal force Fc.

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
mm
F =G 1 2
d2

mv 2
r
Analyse the forces involved in
uniform circular motion for a
range of objects, including
satellites orbiting the Earth.
F =


T sin

mg

Figure 2.6.2 Spinning weight model


of a satellite

55

Explaining
and exploring
the solar system

19 In Gerard ONeills proposed colonies in space, people would live on the


inner surfaces of rotating cylinders 3km in radius and 20km long.
Gravity would be simulated via the reaction force to the centripetal force
exerted by the cylinder on the occupants inside. Calculate the rotation rate
(in revolutions per hour) that would yield artificial gravity, mimicking the
magnitude of gravity at the Earths surface.
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
r 3 GM
=
T 2 4 2

Define the term orbital velocity


and the quantitative and
qualitative relationship
between orbital velocity, the
gravitational constant, mass
of the central body, mass of
the satellite and the radius of
the orbit using Keplers Law
of Periods.

20 Using the mass of Jupiter calculated in the worked example on page 39,
21

predict the period of Jupiters moon Callisto, given that its semimajor axis
is 1.89106km.
2r
and the explicit form
Using the equation for tangential velocity v =
T
of Keplers law of periods, re-derive the expression from section 2.2, for
the magnitude of orbital velocity of a satellite in circular orbit:
v=

GM

r

22 Using the explicit form of Keplers third law, calculate the radii of:
a a geostationary orbit
b a circular semi-synchronous orbit.

23 Draw a table in which you compare the kinetic energy, the two-body

potential energy and the two-body mechanical energy of a geosynchronous


and a circular semi-synchronous satellite of mass 2000kg. Use the data
from Question22 to confirm that the two-body mechanical energy for both
orbits is:
GmM
ME =
2a

24 A comet passes the Sun (MS = 1.991030kg). At perihelion, the

centre-to-centre distance is 8.551010m and the speed of the comet


is 6.69106ms1. What kind of orbit is it? Do you expect the comet
to return?

25 Gravity assist can also be used as a brake. Show that if the diagram in the
planets frame in Figure2.4.1a is unchanged, but the planets orbital
velocity in Figure2.4.1b is reversed, then the probes speed in the Suns
frame would decrease.

26 A Soyuz capsule with a crew of three (7460kg) is in a circular orbit at

Re

56

iew

Q uesti o

an altitude of 336km, having completed a mission to the International


Space Station.
a Calculate its kinetic energy.
b Ignoring the effect of its soft-landing engines, calculate how much
thermal energy is generated by drag during its re-entry.
Earths mass ME = 5.971024kg
Earths radius at the landing site rE=6366km

space

PHYSICS FOCUS

final orbit

L Driving lesson in orbit


initial
orbit

3. Applications and uses of physics


satellite

Once in a stable orbit, a spacecraft is coasting. One


only needs to do work (burn fuel) to swap between
orbits. The following are two important examples of
manoeuvres between orbits.
Changing lanes: Circular orbits around Earth (or other
body) are like lanes on a highway, the smaller radius
orbits being the fast lanes. In 1925, Walter Hohmann
devised a fuel-efficient method for changing lanes. To
move from a small orbit to a larger one, an accelerating
engine burn of just the right impulse will convert the
circular orbit to an elliptical Hohmann transfer orbit
(Figure 2.6.3), which joins the initial and final orbits.
Once in the elliptical orbit, the engine is shut off again.
Once the craft reaches the apoapsis of its elliptical
orbit, a second accelerating burn of the right impulse
will convert the elliptical orbit into a (now larger radius)
circular orbit. This method can also be used in reverse
to drop down to a smaller orbit, in which case the two
engine burns must be decelerations.
Hohmann transfer orbits around the Sun can also
be used for travel between planets. The launch must be
timed so the planet is at the periapsis of the Hohmann
orbit just as the probe arrives.
Overtaking: Sometimes spacecraft need to
rendezvous (meet) in orbit, such as when the Space
Shuttle needs to dock with the International Space
Station. If youre way behind a craft in the same orbit
and you need to catch up, you should paradoxically
slam on the brakesbriefly retrofire (fire your engines
in reverse) to reduce speed (Figure 2.6.4). This
temporarily reduces KE (and total mechanical energy)
so you drop down into a lower energy, smaller radius
overtaking orbit, more than regaining your speed.
Smaller radius orbits are faster, so you eventually catch
up with the other craft. When youre about to overtake
it in the fast lane, fire your engines forwards to
increase mechanical energy, so you pop back up into
the original orbit rendezvous.

elliptical
transfer orbit

Figure 2.6.3
A Hohmann elliptical
transfer orbit

Figure 2.6.4 To overtake, first slow down.


1 When you fire a rocket to change your speed,
does this violate momentum conservation? Explain.
2 Why doesnt one just fly from the initial orbit to the
final orbit in a straight line instead of following a
Hohmann orbit? Does this violate Newtons first law?
Explain.
3 Show that to transfer from an initial circular orbit
of radius Ri to a larger final one of Rf, you must use
a Hohmann transfer orbit with a semimajor axis a,
where Ri + Rf = 2a. (Hint: Draw some diagrams.)
4 Why cant the Hohmann transfer orbit be a circular
orbit? (Hint: Draw another diagram.)
5 Why is the Shuttle in Figure2.6.4 pointing the
wrong way?
6 When overtaking, you temporarily reduce your KE.
Why does your KE increase again in the overtaking
orbit? You may use the fact that for a stable orbit,
GmM
the two-body ME=
(section 2.3).
ME =
2a

Extension
7 A Space Shuttle releases a communications satellite
into an initial orbit of radius r=6.66106m.
Using a Hohmann transfer orbit, the satellite
moves up to a geosynchronous orbit of
rgeo=4.216107m. Using the result of
Question 3, calculate how long the transfer takes.
(Hint: The transfer path is half an orbit.)

57

3
special relativity, general relativity,
inertial frame of reference, invariant,
principle of relativity, fictitious forces,
Maxwells equations, electromagnetic
wave, mechanical medium,
luminiferous aether, interferometry,
beamsplitter, aether drag, Michelson
Morley experiment, null result,
postulate, simultaneity, Lorentz factor,
time dilation, proper time, twin paradox,
proper length, length contraction, rest
mass, proper mass, relativistic mass,
spacetime, mass-energy,

Seeing in a weird
light: relativity
Just some minor problems
You may have heard it said that some physicists think that a theory of
everything is just around the corner. This attitude is not new. Many
physicists thought this about what is now called classical Newtonian
physics, towards the end of the late 19th century. There were just a few
minor problems with understanding the way light travels through space
that needed to be fixed, and then the job of physics would be finished.
Well, those minor problems with light led to the twin pillars of
modern physics: quantum mechanics and relativity. Einstein was a key
player in both, especially relativity, which comes in two parts. Special
relativity replaced Newtons mechanics and the later general relativity
replaced Newtons universal gravitation. A century later, relativity still
defies common sense, bending space, time and the mind, but it has
not yet failed any experimental test. In this chapter we will only deal
with the theory of special relativity.
Common sense is nothing more than a deposit
of prejudices laid down by the mind before
you reach eighteen.
A Einstein

3.1 Frames of reference and


classical relativity
Outline the nature of inertial
frames of reference.

Discuss the principle of


relativity.

58

Before we talk about relativistic weirdness, recall inertial frames of reference


(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 3.3). Inertial frames of reference are
required for observers using Newtons laws or the Galilean transformation
formula for relative velocity (see section 1.1). An inertial frame is any nonaccelerating (including non-rotating) reference frame. Inertial frames can move
at a constant velocity relative to each other.
There are no absolute velocities and there is
All velocities are relative.
no special absolutely stationary inertial frame. The classical Newtonian laws of
mechanics and gravity are unchanged (or invariant) when transforming from
one inertial frame to another (even though the values of some measurements
such as velocity might change). This is called the principle of relativity.
To transform a situation from one inertial frame to another, you simply apply
the Galilean transformation formula to all the velocities. Youve already seen an
example of this in the gravity assist example (Figure2.4.2).

space

nte

ractiv

Because there is no special inertial frame, no experiment purely within


your own frame can detect the velocity of your frame, so absolute velocity is
meaningless. You can only compare your frames velocity relative to others. An
example of this is waiting to depart in a train, looking out the window (Figure
3.1.1) to see that a train next to you is moving slowly away, only to find a few
seconds later that, in fact, relative to the station it is your train that is moving.
Your acceleration (including vibrations) was negligibleyou felt no effect of your
uniform velocity.
However, you can feel the acceleration of a non-inertial reference frame,
and measure it using an accelerometer. The simplest accelerometer is a pendulum.
If a pendulum hangs vertically in a car, your horizontal acceleration is zero. If you
are accelerating horizontally, the pendulum will hang obliquely (Figure 3.1.2).
If you are observing from within a non-inertial (accelerating) frame, Newtons
laws appear to be violated. Objects can appear to change velocity without a true
net external force; in other words, you experience fictitious forces or pseudoforces (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p 39). For example, in a car taking a corner,
you experience the sensation of being thrown outwards by a fictitious centrifugal
force. If viewed from the inertial frame of the footpath, you evidently are pulled
inwards by a true centripetal force. (Weve cheated a bit. The Earth is turning,
so the footpath is not strictly an inertial frame. However, Earths radius is so
large that in most human-scale situations, fictitious forces due to Earths rotation
are negligible.)
Another view of tests for non-inertial reference frames is that they involve
detecting fictitious forces. Its a two-step process. First, analyse an object within
that frame of reference and decide what true external Newtonian forces must act
on the object. Then, look for apparently extra or missing forcesevidence of
a non-inertial frame. For example, judged from the inertial frame of the ground,
the downward weight mg and the upward normal force N of the seat are the
only true forces on an astronaut during launch. Within the accelerating rocket, the
sensation of enhanced weight (downwards) associated with g-force has the same
magnitude as N but is apparently in the wrong direction and is therefore fictitious.
A pendulum accelerometer hangs obliquely within an accelerating car as
though there is a fictitious horizontal component of weight. In free-fall (or orbit),
the apparent absence of weight is also fictitious. Your frame accelerates downwards,
so true weight becomes undetectable to you, as though your true downward
weight is cancelled by a fictitious upward gravity. The effects of neither force
show up separately on an accelerometer.

M o d u le

Figure 3.1.1 Who is really moving?

Try this!
Fictitious fun
While sitting on a playground
merry-go-round with a friend,
try playing catch with a slow
moving tennis ball. The fictitious
centrifugal and Coriolis forces
will cause the ball to appear to
follow warped trajectories,
making it difficult to catch.

Worked example

mg

question
mg tan 5

A Christmas decoration is hanging obliquely inside your car, 5 from vertical and pointing
towards the cars left side. Describe quantitatively the cars motion (no skidding!).

Solution
Only two true external forces act on the decoration: tension and weight (Figure3.1.2).
Because there is an angle between them, they arent equal and opposite, so the decoration
experiences a net real force and acceleration sideways (in this case centripetal). The net
force and acceleration point towards the right side of the car, so the accelerometer
(and the car) is steering towards the right.

left

right

mg

Figure 3.1.2 Festive season pendulum


accelerometer
59

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity
The centrifugal force perceived by the occupants of the car to be pulling the decoration
toward the left side of the car is fictitious.
From Figure3.1.2, the magnitude of the centripetal acceleration is:
F
ac = c = g tan5=9.800.0875=0.86ms2
m

Note: This test is subjectiveit requires personal judgement (hence possible


bias). No measurement alone can identify a force as fictitious. For example, no
pure measurement can tell the difference between true weightlessness and the
fictitious weightlessness of free-fall. You can only tell the difference by looking
Activity Manual, Page
21
down and seeing the Earth below; judgement says there should be gravity, but
you cant feel it. The inability of measurement alone to distinguish the effects of
true gravity from the effects of g-force is what Einstein used as the starting point
Perform an investigation to
for his re-writing of the law of gravitation in his theory of general relativity, but
help distinguish between
youll have to wait until university physics to learn about that!
non-inertial and inertial
This approach to distinguishing between inertial and non-inertial frames
frames of reference.
relies on a classical concept of force. In Einsteins relativity, the concept of force
is more complicated and is used much less.
The term fictitious force doesnt
mean the observed effects are
imaginary, as the victims of a cyclone
Fictitious cyclone?
or astronauts who are subject to
Yeah right!
g-force can attest. It simply means
ffects associated with
that the apparent force doesnt fit
so-called fictitious
Newtons definition of a true force.
forces of Earths rotation
It is always possible to
are not always negligible.
re-analyse fictitious forces using an
The Coriolis force is a
inertial frame and to account for
fictitious tangential
all observed effects using only true
force appearing in
Newtonian forces.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 3.1

rotating frames of
reference and is
associated with the
formation of cyclones.

Figure 3.1.3 Satellite photo


of a cyclone

Checkpoint 3.1
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

60

Define an inertial reference frame.


Recall the Galilean transformation formula for relative velocities.
Outline why we usually treat the Earth as an inertial frame, given that it is rotating.
Discuss whether or not centripetal force is fictitious.
In free-fall, you dont experience any extra apparent forces. Are you in an inertial frame? Explain.
What apparatus would distinguish true weight from apparent weight due to g-force ?
The values of some measurements such as velocity might change, but the laws of mechanics are the same in all
frames of reference. True or False? Explain.

space

3.2 Light in the Victorian era


The 19th century was a period of enormous advance in the study of electricity
and magnetism. Faraday, Ampere, Oersted, Ohm and others, through theory and
experiment, produced a large collection of equations and phenomena. There
were hints of connections between electricity and magnetisman electrical
current can produce a magnetic field (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 12.3)
and a changing magnetic field can induce a changing electric field or current
(section 4.1).
The Scottish theoretical physicist, James Clerk Maxwell (18311879)
collected the existing equations to reduce them down to the minimum number.
He reduced them down to eight equations (which expanded to 20 when he
included all the x-, y- and z-components). A self-taught electrical engineer called
Oliver Heaviside (18501925), using the newly developed mathematics of
vectors, reduced Maxwells equations to four. We now call those four equations
Maxwells equations.
It puzzled Maxwell that his equations were almost symmetrical in their
treatment of electrical and magnetic fieldsalmost but not quite. So he added
a term to his equations, assuming that a changing electrical field can induce a
magnetic field (not previously observed). When he did this, he showed that an
oscillating magnetic field would induce an oscillating electric field and vice versa,
resulting in a self-sustaining electromagnetic wave. From his equations he
calculated the speed of that wave to be equal to the speed of light in a vacuum
(which is now called c and equals 2.998792458108ms1).
It was either an astonishing coincidence or strong circumstantial evidence
that light is an electromagnetic wave (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary p 84).
Heinrich Hertz (18571894) experimentally confirmed the predicted speed and
properties of these electromagnetic waves.

Figure3.2.1 James Clerk Maxwell

What is lights medium?


Until then, every existing kind of wave needed a mechanical medium; for
example, sound propagates through air, earthquakes through rock, musical
vibrations along a violin string, ripples along water and so on (see in2 Physics
@ Preliminary section5.3). To sustain a wave, a medium needs two properties:
resilience (or stiffness) and inertia (any density- or mass-related property).
The higher the stiffness and the lower the inertia, the higher the wave speed.
It was assumed that light also needs a medium, which was called
luminiferous aether or just aether (US spelling: ether). Luminiferous means
light-bearing, and aether was the air breathed by the gods of Greek mythology.
So Maxwell developed a model for aether, assigning it bizarre mechanical
properties consistent with the behaviour and enormous speed of light. It needed
to be far less dense than air but much stiffer than any known material. Despite
its stiffness, aether was assumed to penetrate all materials effortlessly. Conversely,
it needed to be able to be penetrated without resistance by all objects that move
freely through space, including Earth hurtling around the Sun.
If you shout with the wind blowing behind you, then, relative to you, the
velocity of sound would be higher than if the air were still. This is because the
velocity of sound (and other mechanical waves) is the sum of its velocity relative
to the medium and the velocity of the medium itself. In other words, mechanical

Outline the features of


the aether model for the
transmission of light.

61

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity
waves seem to obey the Galilean transformation. It was assumed that light should
also obey it, so the speed of light should be affected by the motion of the aether.
However, Maxwells equations appeared to allow only one particular value for
The Galilean transformation and Newtons
the speed of light in a vacuum.
laws imply it is impossible for the speed of light to appear to be the same to all
observers with different relative speeds. Perhaps the speed specified by Maxwells
equations is the speed relative to the aether only. However, this meant that the
aether represented a preferred reference frame for Maxwells equations, which was
inconsistent with the classical principle of relativity.

M and M
Describe and evaluate the
MichelsonMorley attempt to
measure the relative velocity of
the Earth through the aether.
Discuss the role of the
MichelsonMorley experiments
in making determinations about
competing theories.

Figure 3.2.2 Interference pattern in a


Michelson interferometer
illuminated by a mercury
vapour lamp. Patterns of
different shapes (such as
vertical bands) are possible
and depend on exactly how the
interferometer is aligned.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 3.2

Activity Manual, Page


25

Gather and process information


to interpret the results of the
MichelsonMorley experiment.

62

Given that the Earth was supposed to be hurtling around the Sun, through the
aether at 3104ms1, the resulting aether wind (or aether drift) relative to
Earth should affect measurements of light speed differently according to the time
of day and time of year as the Earth rotated and orbited the Sun, changing its
orientation relative to the aether.
So in the 1880s, the experimentalist Albert Michelson (18521931), joined
later by Edward Morley (18381923), attempted to measure changes in the speed
of light throughout the day due to this shifting aether wind. They used
a very sensitive method called interferometry (see section21.5), which
Michelson had used some years earlier to accurately measure the speed of light.
Recall constructive and destructive interference (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
p102 and p126). If two light beams are projected onto a screen, then a bright
fringe occurs at places where the two beams are in phase (constructive
interference). Where they are out of phase, destructive interference results in a
dark fringe. The pattern of bright and dark fringes is called an interference
pattern (Figure 3.2.2).
Interference turns a pair of monochromatic (single wavelength) light
beams into an extremely sensitive ruler for which the interference fringes are like
magnified ruler markings one light wavelength apart. For visible light, this
spacing is less than 8107m and corresponds to time intervals of less than
31015s. If the two light beams travel via different paths, then a very small
change in the length of one path will change the relative phase, resulting in
a detectable change in the position of fringes in the interference pattern.
A change in wave speed along one of those paths should have a similar effect
on phase.
Michelson and Morley set up an interferometer in which the light was divided
into two perpendicular beams or arms by passing it through a half-silvered
mirror or beamsplitter (Figure3.2.3). The apparatus was built on a heavy stone
optical bench floating in mercury, to allow rotation and damp out vibrations.
They assumed that if one interferometer arm was pointing parallel to the aether
wind, the speed of light should be slightly different in the two arms. The time of
flight of the light in the arm parallel to the aether wind should be slightly longer
than that of light along the perpendicular arm. As the Earth (or the apparatus)
rotates, this speed difference, as measured by the positions of the interference
fringes (Figure 3.2.2), should change with the angle.
Figure 3.2.4 summarises the classically predicted effect of aether wind on the
resultant light speed in the two arms of the interferometer. Lets calculate the
expected time difference. Suppose the total distance from beamsplitter MS to M1
(or M2) is L, then the round-trip for each arm is 2L.

space
a

M1
source

Ms

aether
wind

l1
l2
M2

M2

Ms

eyepiece

source

Figure3.2.3 The MichelsonMorley interferometer


drawn as (a) a simplified schematic
and (b) an actual ray diagram.
Multiple reflections were used to
make the effective length of the arms
very long hence more sensitive to
changes in light speed. MS is the
half-silvered beamsplitter mirror.

relative to the aether, then the resultant light speed is c 2 v 2 (Figure3.2.4a)


and the time taken for light to do a round-trip is:
2L
c2 v2

2L

1
1

v2
c2

In the arm parallel to the aether wind (speed v), for half the trip against the
wind, the speed of light would be cv, and for the other half with the wind it
would be c+v, so the time taken would be longer:
L
L
2L
t2 =
+
=

c v c +v
c

1
1

v2

c2
(Check that you agree that since v is smaller than c, time in the parallel arm t2
is longer than time in perpendicular arm t1.)
Other factors such as thermal expansion or contraction of the apparatus
could cause apparent drift in the interference pattern, but the shift due to
rotation of the apparatus (or the Earth beneath it) would be a sine wave with
a period equal to the rotation period of the apparatus, so any drift not due to
rotation could be detected and subtracted. Michelson and Morley graphed the
position of interference fringes versus rotation angle at different times of the
day, but concluded that the small observed shifts could be explained as drift in
the experimental apparatus. Over several years, scientists repeated the
measurements, with some reports of possible changes in interference over the
day; but eventually the consensus was that any observed effect was well below
what was expected by the aether theory and could be explained by drift in
the apparatus.
George Fitzgerald and Hendrik Lorentz attempted to squeeze the Galilean
transformation into Maxwells equations, concluding that charged particles
(such as charges in atoms) moving through the aether with speed of v must

C 2 V 2
V

C
V

aether wind

t1 =

aether wind

In the arm perpendicular to the aether wind (speed v), if c is light speed

M1

C V

C+ V

Figure3.2.4 Classical effect of aether wind on light


velocity. (a) The resultant velocity
perpendicular to the wind and (b)
resultant velocity parallel to the wind.
Blue = light velocity relative to aether,
green = aether velocity and red =
resultant light velocity

shrink in the direction of motion by a factor of 1 v 2/c 2. The interferometer


arm parallel to the aether wind would shrink just enough to compensate for
the change in light speed and hence cancel the expected change in the
interference pattern.
63

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity
Another reason suggested for failure to see the shift was that perhaps aether
only penetrates transparent objects, so aether was trapped by large opaque
mountains and valleys or buildings and dragged along by the moving Earth,
similar to the way in which air is trapped in the fur of a running dog. A flea
conducting scientific experiments on the dogs skin would be unaware that outside
the fur, air is whooshing backwards relative to the dog. This idea was called aether
drag. If this were true, then at the tops of mountains, closer to outer space, the
aether wind might be detectable. Some experimenters repeated the experiment on
mountains without success (apart from a controversial partial result).
Failure to detect undeniable effects of aether wind caused some physicists to
question if it even existed. Maxwells equations only mention electric and
magnetic fields. The aether is not required by the equations. Einstein assumed it
didnt exist, but said that relativity was not an attempt to explain Michelson and
Morleys negative result, but rather, he was motivated by the properties of
Maxwells equations. However, in physics, when experiment and theory say the
Today almost all physicists
same thing, youre probably on the right track.
agree that there is no aether.
The MichelsonMorley experiment is often called the most famous failed
experiment. It was not exactly a failure. In 1907, Michelson was awarded the
The result of an experiment that fails
Nobel Prize for Physics for his work.
to find evidence of an expected effect despite careful design and execution is more
correctly called a null result. This null result was one of the most important in
the history of physics, because it helped bring about a whole new way of seeing
the universe.

Checkpoint 3.2
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Describe Maxwells circumstantial evidence that light is an electromagnetic wave.


Discuss why it was assumed that light required a medium or aether to propagate in.
Maxwells equations predicted that the speed of light should depend on the speed of the medium, but this was
contradicted by the MichelsonMorley experiment. True or false? Explain.
In the classical analysis of the MichelsonMorley interferometer, which arm required the longer time of flight?
Is it correct to say that the MichelsonMorley experiment didnt show any change in the interference pattern? Explain.
Outline how Fitzgerald and Lorentz explained the apparent absence of evidence for aether wind.
Describe aether drag.
Discuss which played a greater role in motivating Einsteins work, the work of Michelson and Morley or that of Maxwell.

Explain qualitatively and


quantitatively the consequence
of special relativity in relation
to:
the relativity of simultaneity
the equivalence between
mass and energy
length contraction
time dilation
mass dilation.

64

3.3 Special relativity, light and time


Although relativity is Einsteins theory, many of the underlying ideas or
mathematical formulae were inspired or anticipated by others including Poincar,
Lorentz and Minkowski. Einstein, being a theoretician, did not conduct
laboratory experiments. However, he is famous for making good use of the
Gedankenexperiment or thought experiment to boil abstract ideas down into
simple concrete ones. Theory can sometimes be derived by imagining an
experiment being done, even if it is impractical. We will mention some of his
thought experiments in this section.

space

Speed of light
Newton regarded space and time as absolute. In practical terms, this means that
the length of 1 metre, the duration of 1 second and the geometric properties of
shapes would be the same to all observers everywhere. Not all physicists agreed,
but the success of Newtons laws silenced any philosophical discussion.
However, Maxwells theory (and the MichelsonMorley experiment) pointed
to the speed of light in a vacuum being constant to all observers. So Einstein said
one of three things must be wrong: the principle of relativity (the invariance of
laws of mechanics in all inertial reference frames), Maxwells equations or the
Galilean transformation (the basis of all of classical mechanics).
The principle of relativity seemed very fundamental to Einstein, so he didnt
reject that. In fact, he extended Galileo and Newtons principle of relativity to
include all laws of physics, not just mechanics. He called it his first postulate.
Following a suggestion by Jules Henri Poincar (18541912), Einstein
decided that as the speed of light in a vacuum was invariant in all inertial frames,
then that must also be a law of nature, which he called the postulate of the
constancy of the speed of light.
Maxwells equations accurately described electromagnetic phenomena, so
Einstein didnt want to reject them. So it must be the Galilean transformation
(and hence all of classical mechanics) that was wrong. But it is difficult to see how
something so simple could possibly be wrong.
Suppose you are on a moving train, shining a torch towards the front of the
carriage. To your eyes, the light travels the length of the carriage L. To you, its
speed is the length of the carriage divided by the time t it took to get there c=L/t.
To an observer at the train station, the light travelled the length of the carriage
plus the distance D the carriage travelled in that time: c=(L + D)/t. The
arithmetic is so laughably simple. How could both observers possibly get the same
value for c? It could only be possible if you and the observer at the train station
In other words, if the
disagree on the lengths L or D or the time period t.
speed of light is constant then length (space) and/or time are not absolutethey
must depend on the state of motion of the observer.
So why had no-one noticed until 100 years ago? Classical mechanics had
successfully described phenomena for three centuries, but it had never been tested
Classical mechanics and the
for things moving at close to the speed of light.
Galilean transformation are accurate approximations at speeds well below the
speed of light. Only when the properties of light itself were examined, did the
problems become obvious.
the speed of light is the ultimate
Einstein showed (in several ways), that
speed limitno observer can reach the speed of light. As a teenager, he asked
What would the world look like if I rode on a light beam? He answered as an
adult with a thought experiment. A light beam is a wave of oscillating electric and
magnetic fields moving at the speed c. If you were in the same reference frame as
the light beam, you would observe stationary electric and magnetic fields that
vary as sine waves in space, but are constant in time. This is not an allowable
solution to Maxwells equations, so it is not possible for an observer to travel at
the speed of lightit is the ultimate speed limit.

Simultaneity
Einstein demonstrated that simultaneity is relative. Events apparently simultaneous
to one observer are not necessarily so to all observers. Lets use Einsteins own

Describe the significance of


Einsteins assumption of the
constancy of the speed of light.
Identify that if c is constant
then space and time become
relative.

Whats so
Special about
Relativity?

instein called his 1905


replacement theory for
Newtons mechanics special
relativity. It is a special case in
the mathematical sense of being
restricted to particular
conditionsto inertial reference
frames. Einsteins general
relativity came 11 years later
and was generalised to include
non-inertial reference frames.
It replaced Newtons gravity.
65

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

O2

O1

platform

Figure3.3.1 Lightning strikes at A and B


appear simultaneously to
observer O1 but not to O2.

Solve problems and analyse


information using: E = mc2
l v = l0 1
tv =

c2

t0
1

mv =

v2

v2
c2

m0
1

v2
c2

Analyse and interpret some of


Einsteins thought experiments
involving mirrors and trains and
discuss the relationship
between thought and reality.

thought experiment. Observer O1 is standing on a train station platform


equidistant from points A and B, which appear to O1 to be struck simultaneously
by two bolts of lightning (Figure 3.3.1). Because the light travelled the same
distance from both points and the light reached O1 at the same time, O1 judges
that the lightning bolts struck simultaneously.
Suppose observer O2 is sitting in a high speed train passing the platform
without stopping. O1 calculates that at the moment the lightning struck, O2 on
the train was also equidistant from A and B and so naively assumes that O2 would
also see the events as simultaneous. However, by the time the light reached O1s
eyes, O2 was closer to B and had already seen the light from B but not A, and
Only if two events occur simultaneously at the
concluded B was struck first.
same place, will all observers agree that they were simultaneous.
Similar arguments can show that the order of events is relative. Since an effect
must come after its cause, relativity places restrictions on possible chains of cause
and effect. Because the speed of light is the universal speed limit, two events
separated by distance cannot have any influence over each other over a time scale
shorter than the time required for light to travel between them. Because no signal
or influence can travel between a cause and its effect faster than light, apparent
changes in the simultaneity or order of events based on the passage of light is more
than just an optical illusionit represents a fundamental limitation of reality.

Time dilation
The relativity of simultaneity suggests that time itself is a bit rubbery. Relativity
predicts that the rate of passage of time differs, depending on the velocity of
the observer.
Consider the following thought experiment (Figure3.3.2). Suppose you
(observer 0) are on a train, moving with speed v relative to the ground, while
measuring the speed of light by shining a light pulse vertically towards a mirror on
the train ceiling, a distance D from the light source. Outside on the ground is
observer v who appears to you to be rushing past with horizontal speed v and
watching your experiment. Both you and observerv regard your own reference
you both agree on three things: (1) the speed
frame as stationary. However,
of light, (2) your relative horizontal speed v and (3) the height of the mirror D.
You both agree on the height of the mirror because you are both in the same
reference frame with respect to vertical components.
Your light source also contains a detector capable of timing the interval t0
between the emission and detection of the light pulse. You do the experiment
and use the speed formula c = 2D/t0 to obtain the correct speed of light.
a

v
mirror

mirror
D
source and
detector

vtv
source

detector

Figure3.3.2 Measuring the speed of light on a train as seen by (a) observer 0 within the train and
(b) observer v from the reference frame on the ground
66

space
Observerv disagrees about what happened. She was carrying an accurate
stopwatch and timed the event independently, getting a longer time interval of tv.
Using Pythagoras theorem, she calculates that the path length of the light
(Figure3.3.2b) was not 2D, but rather:
1
2

2 D 2 + ( vt v )2 = 4 D 2 + (vt v )2

She agrees on the speed of light c so:


4 D 2 + (vt v )2

c=

tv

Square and rearrange: c2tv2 = 4D2 + (vtv)2 but observer 0 says c = 2D/t0
Eliminate D:
Rearrange:

c2tv2 = c2t02 + (vtv)2


tv2(c2 v2) = c2t02
tv =

t0
1

v2
c2

The factor 1 / 1 v 2/ c 2 is called the Lorentz factor (abbreviated as ).


It is always larger than 1, which means that if t0 is the time between ticks on
observer0s clock then observer v will see observer0s clock whiz by at speed v,
ticking more slowly with a time tv between ticks. This is time dilation. The word
dilation means spreading out, just like the time between clock ticks.
An observer moving relative to you and observing a clock ticking (or any
series of events) stationary in your frame, will judge events to happen more slowly
than you observe them. Note that the dilation is only observed in clocks in other
You cant observe time dilation in clocks in your own
frames of reference.
frame, no matter how fast others think youre moving.
the effect is symmetrical; that is,
As there is no preferred inertial frame,
observers can be swapped. You both agree on your relative speed v but both insist
the other observer is moving and their clock is running slow. You are both right
because time is relative.
A time interval observed on a clock that is stationary relative to the observer is
To generalise this idea, t0
called the proper time for that reference frame.
can represent the time between any two events (such as the ticks of a clock) that
occur in the same place in the frame of the observer. If the events are separated in
space, then extra time is required to allow for light to travel between the positions
of the two events.
Global positioning system (GPS) receivers estimate your position by
measuring how long it takes the GPS signal to travel from the satellites to your
receiver. The orbital speed of the satellites is large enough that the calculation
needs to take time dilation into account. (It also takes into account a larger effect
from general relativity: time runs more slowly in a stronger gravitational field.)
The Lorentz factor approaches infinity as speed approaches the speed of light
(Figure3.3.3). This means that time in a frame of reference approaching the speed
of light (relative to the observer) will come to a complete stop. In other words,
nothing can be seen to happen in such a frame, which is another reason why the
speed of light is the ultimate speed limit.

7
6
5
tv 4
t0 3
2
1
0

0.2

0.4
0.6
Speed VC

0.8

1.0

Figure3.3.3 Plot of the ratio of a time


interval in a moving reference
frame to proper time (tv/t0)
versus speed in units of c. Note
that at speeds below ~0.1c,
the ratio1, so time behaves
nearly classically.
67

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Worked example

Muon and on
and on

ast-moving muons are produced


in the upper atmosphere by
cosmic ray bombardment. Time
dilation extends their normally short
lifetimes long enough to allow many
of them to make it to Earth, where
they are a significant component of
Earths background radiation.)

Figure3.3.4 Both twins think the others


clock is moving slower, but
who is older at the end of
the journey?

question
A muon is like a heavy electron, and at low speed it decays with a mean lifetime of
2.2106s. Suppose a beam of muons is accelerated to 80% of the speed of light.
What would their mean lifetime be in the laboratory reference frame?

Solution
Lifetime in the muons frame: t0=2.2106s
Speed of muons frame: v=0.80c
t0
Lifetime in the laboratory frame is tv: t v =
1

2.2 106
2

1 0.80

= 3.7 106 s

c
The twin paradox
When two people pass by quickly, observing each other, they both think the
others clock is running slower. The principle of relativity says you are both right.
The twin paradox is a thought experiment in special relativity. Bill goes for an
intergalactic cruise travelling at close to the speed of light (in Earths frame),
while Phil stays on Earth (Figure3.3.4). During the flight, they both correctly
conclude that the other twins frame is moving, and so he is ageing more slowly.
But what happens when Bill comes back home? Observations in the same
frame should agree. It turns out that Bill is younger than Phil. Does this violate
the principle that all inertial frames of reference are equivalent? No. Bill turned
around (accelerated) to come home. The situation is no longer symmetrical.
Special relativity isnt enough to explain what Bill saw from his accelerating
frame (he needs general relativity). However we have no difficulty talking about
what (non-accelerating) Phil saw.
By turning around and coming back, Bill left his original inertial frame and
re-entered Phils frame, so he should agree with Phil. Phil remained in his inertial
frame all along, so his conclusions (that Bill was moving and so is younger) have
been consistent with special relativity throughout and, in his frame, correct.
If instead Phil had hopped into another craft and caught up with Bills inertial
frame, then Bills original conclusion would have been correct and Phil would
have been younger.
This prediction has been confirmed using highly precise, twin atomic clocks
and an aeroplane.

Checkpoint 3.3
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

68

State Einsteins first postulate and its alternative name.


State Einsteins second postulate and its alternative name.
Outline why Newtons classical mechanics is so successful despite a fundamental error (the Galilean transformation).
Explain why the speed of light places restrictions on possible chains of cause and effect.
Write the formula for time dilation.
A clock moving towards you appears to slow down. If the clock were moving in the opposite direction, would it speed up?
What is the name given to a time interval measured on a clock that is stationary in your frame of reference?
In the twin paradox, during a period of constant relative motion, both Bill (astronaut) and Phil (earthling) observe the
other twins watch ticking more slowly. Whos observation is actually correct?

space

3.4 Length, mass and energy


The formula for time dilation has already upset our common sense. However,
once the clocks start talking to the rulers and the masses, things can only get
more bizarre.

Solve problems and analyse


information using: E = mc2
l v = l0 1

Length contraction
There is a grain of truth in Lorentz and Fitzgeralds suggestion (section3.2)

tv =

that the arm of a Michelson interferometer contracts by a factor of 1 v 2/ c 2


in the direction of motion. Their formula was correct, but their interpretation
that it resulted from motion through the (non-existent) aether was wrong. Also,
the contraction doesnt happen in the frame of reference of the experimenter.
Moreover, their hypothesis was ad hoc; it was designed only to patch a hole
in the old theory without resulting in any additional testable predictions. So
Einstein re-interpreted their mathematics in light of his theory of relativity.
If an object is moving with speed v relative to the observer, the length of the
object in the direction of that motion will be observed to be contracted
according to the formula:
l v = l0 1

v2
c2

m0
1

v2
c2

Explain qualitatively and


quantitatively the consequence
of special relativity in relation
to:
the relativity of simultaneity
the equivalence between
mass and energy
length contraction
time dilation
mass dilation.

v2
c2

where l0 is the length judged by an observer who is stationary relative to the


object (proper length) and lv is the length judged by an observer in a frame
The length contraction only
moving with speed v relative to the object.
takes place in the dimension parallel to the motion. Just like time dilation:
1 the effect is symmetrical, which means the observers can be swappedboth
insist it is the other persons ruler that is too short
2 you cannot observe a Lorentz contraction within your own frame.

c2

t0
1

mv =

v2

1.2
1
0.8
lv 0.6
l0
0.4

Imagine that observer1 and observer2 are trying to measure the length of
0.2
a rod, but all they have is a stopwatch. They already know accurately (and agree
on) their relative speed v. Observer1 is holding the rod and observer2 is holding
0
0
0.2
0.4 0.6 0.8
1.0
the stopwatch. They whoosh past each other almost touching, both looking at
Speed VC
the watch.
Figure3.4.1 Plot of the ratio of length in a
Observer2 is stationary relative to the watch (Figure3.4.2a), so he knows the
moving reference frame to
reading on his watch is his proper time. As the rod passes by, the watch reads
proper length (lv/l0) versus
zero at the start of the rod and t2 at the end, so the rod took a time t2 to pass by.
speed in units of c. Note that as
Therefore he calculates that the length of the rod in his frame is lv=vt2.
speed approaches c, lv shrinks
to zeroanother reason why the
Observer1 is stationary relative to the rod (Figure3.4.2b), so she knows that
speed of light is unattainable.
its length for her is the proper length l0. She agrees that the watch says t2, but the
moving watch seemed to be ticking too slowly, so the number on the watch must
be too small. Using the time dilation formula,
she calculates that the time t1 in her frame
a
b
was longer:
t2
v
t1 =
v
2
v
1 2
c
Figure3.4.2 Measuring the length of a rod using a stopwatch as seen by (a) observer 2,
60

55

60

60

10

50

15

45

20

40

35

30

25

55

10

50

15

45

20

40

35

30

25

holding the watch, and (b) observer 1, holding the rod


69

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Observer1 then calculates that the length of the rod is l0=vt1 or


vt 2
.
l0 =
v2
1 2
c
But observer2 says that lv=vt2, so by substitution and rearrangement

b
v

C'
A'

B'
c

question
v

A'

B'

c2

Worked example

D'

C'

v2 .

l v = l0 1

The distance travelled by light in one year, 9.461015m, is called a light-year (ly).
The nearest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, 4.2light-years away.
Suppose you are travelling to Proxima Centauri at three-quarters of the speed of light.
a Calculate how long it takes to get there from Earth (measured using your
on-board clock).
b Discuss whether this answer is a contradiction.

Figure3.4.3 A fast-moving vehicle appears


contracted horizontally, but also
rotated away from the observer.
The car is depicted when (a)
stationary, (b) moving at high
speed and (c) viewed from
above. Corner C is normally out
of sight, but at high speed, the
vehicle moves out of the way
fast enough to allow light
reflected from C to reach your
eyes at O, allowing you to see
the cars back and side at the
same time. This is called
TerrellPenrose rotation.

Solution
a Both you and Earth-bound observers agree on your relative speed 0.75c. In the
spaceships frame, the distance to Proxima Centauri is contracted:
l v = l 0 1

t=

v2
c

= 4.2 1 0.752 = 2.78 ly

l v 2.78 ly
=
= 3.7 years
c 0.75c

3.7 years is less than the 4.2 years that light takes to get there in Earths frame.
b
This is not a contradiction because in the spaceships frame, light would only
take 2.78 years because lv = 2.78 ly.
a

Earth

Proxima
Centauri

b
v

v
Earth

Proxima
Centauri

Figure3.4.4 Trip to Proxima Centauri as seen by


(a) earthlings and (b) the astronauts

Discuss the implications of


mass increase, time dilation
and length contraction for
space travel.

70

Note that in the last example, the astronauts thought they experienced a
short trip because the distance travelled was contracted, whereas the earthlings
thought the astronauts felt their trip was short because their time had slowed.

space

Relativistic mass
If you measure the mass m0 of an object at rest in your frame (rest mass or
proper mass) and use the classical definition of momentum p=m0v, then in
collisions, momentum is not necessarily conserved for all reference frames.
However, momentum is conserved if one instead uses p=mvv where mv
is the relativistic mass:
m0
mv =
v2
1 2
c
The relativistic mass of an object increases as its speed relative to the observer
increases. As speed approaches c, the mass approaches infinity, so the force
required to accelerate an object to the speed of light becomes infinite. This is yet
another reason why the speed of light cannot be reached.
When accelerating particles in accelerators, this increase in mass needs to be
taken into account, otherwise the machines wont work.
7
6

rains A and B are about to


collide head-on, each with
a speed 0.5c relative to the
station. So, relative to train B,
train A is moving at the speed
of light, right? Wrong! The
replacement for Galileos relative
velocity rule in 1dimension is:

v (A rel. to B) =

vA v B
v v
1 A 2B
c

The speed of trainA relative to


train B is:
0.5c (0.5c )
= 0.8c
0.5c (0.5c )
1
c2

5
mv 4
m0 3
2

Figure3.4.5 Plot of the ratio of relativistic mass

1
0

Relativistic
train crash

0.2

0.4
0.6
Speed CV

0.8

mv in a moving reference frame to


rest mass m0 versus speed in units
of c. As speed approaches c, the
relativistic mass approaches infinity.

Worked example
question
A medical linear accelerator (linac) accelerates a beam of electrons to high kinetic energies.
These electrons then bombard a tungsten target, producing an intense X-ray beam that can
be used to irradiate cancerous tumours. A typical speed for electrons in the beam is 0.997252
times the speed of light.
Calculate the Lorentz factor and hence the relativistic mass of these electrons, given the
rest mass is 9.111031kg.

Solution

Lorentz factor =

1
1

mv =

m0
1

v2

1
1 0.997252

= 13.5

c2
= 9.11103113.5 = 1.231029kg

c2

Note: When calculating Lorentz factors close to the speed of light, use a greater number of
significant figures than usual, because you are subtracting two numbers of very similar size.
71

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
E = mc2
l v = l0 1
tv =

c2

t0
1

mv =

v2

v2
c2

Mass, energy and the worlds most famous equation

The kinetic energy formula K= 1 mv2 doesnt apply at relativistic speeds,


2
even if you substitute relativistic mass mv into the formula. Classically, if you
apply a net force to accelerate an object, the work done equals the increase in
kinetic energy. An increase in speed means an increase in kinetic energy. But
in relativity it also means an increase in relativistic mass, so relativistic mass
and energy seem to be associated. Superficially, if you multiply relativistic
mass by c2 you get mvc2, which has the same dimensions and units as energy.
But lets look more closely at it.

m0
1

v2
c2

PHYSICS FEATURE
Twisting spacetime ...
and your mind
1. The history of physics

here are two more invariants in special relativity.


Maxwells equations (and hence relativity)
requires that electrical charge is invariant in all
frames. Another quantity invariant in all inertial frames
is called the spacetime interval.
You may have heard of spacetime but not know
what it is. One of Einsteins mathematics lecturers
Hermann Minkowski (18641909) showed that the
equations of relativity and Maxwells equations become
simplified if you assume that the three dimensions of
space (x,y,z) and time t taken together form a
fourdimensional coordinate system called spacetime.
Each location in spacetime is not a position, but rather
an eventa position and a time.
Using a 4D version of Pythagoras theorem,
Minkowski then defined a kind of 4D distance
between events called the spacetime interval s given by:
s2 = (ctime period)2 path length2

= c2t2 ((x)2 + (y)2 + (z)2)
Observers in different frames dont agree on the
3D path length between events, or the time period
between events, but all observers in inertial frames
agree on the spacetime interval s between events.

72

Figure 3.4.6 One of the four ultra-precise superconducting spherical


gyroscopes on NASAs Gravity ProbeB, which orbited
Earth in 2004/05 to measure two predictions of general
relativity: the bending of spacetime by the Earths
mass and the slight twisting of spacetime by the
Earths rotation (frame-dragging)

In general relativity, Einstein showed that gravity


occurs because objects with mass or energy cause this
4D spacetime to become distorted. The paths of
objects through this distorted 4D spacetime appear to
our 3D eyes to follow the sort of astronomical
trajectories you learned about in Chapter2 Explaining
and exploring the solar system. However, unlike
Newtons gravitation, general relativity is able to handle
situations of high gravitational fields, such as
Mercurys precessing orbit around the Sun and black
holes. General relativity also predicts another wave that
doesnt require a medium: the ripples in spacetime
called gravity waves.

space
How does this formula behave at low speeds (when v2/c2 is small)?
mv c 2 =

m0c 2
1

v2

v2
= m0c 2 1 2
c

1
2

c2
Using a well-known approximation formula that you might learn at university,
(1 x )n1 nx for small x:
v2
m0c 2 1 2
c

1
2

1 v2
1
m0c 2 1 + 2 = m0c2 + m0v2
2
2 c

1
m v2
2 0
In other words, at low speeds, the gain in relativistic mass (mv m0)
multiplied by c2 equals the kinetic energya tantalising hint that at low speed
mass and energy are equivalent. It can also be shown to be true at all speeds,
using more sophisticated mathematics. In general, mass and energy are
equivalent in relativity and c2 is the conversion factor between the energy unit
(joules) and the mass unit (kg). In other words:

Rearrange:

mvc2 m0c2 = (mv m0)c2

E = mc2
where m is any kind of mass. In relativity, mass and energy are regarded as the
same thing, apart from the change of units. Sometimes the term mass-energy is
used for both. m0c2 is called the rest energy, so even a stationary object contains
energy due to its rest mass. Relativistic kinetic energy therefore:
m0c 2
mv c 2 m0c 2 =
m0c 2
2
v
1 2
c
Whenever energy increases, so does mass. Any release of energy is
accompanied by a decrease in mass. A book sitting on the top shelf has a slightly
higher mass than one on the bottom shelf because of the difference in
gravitational potential energy. An objects mass increases slightly when it is hot
because the kinetic energy of the vibrating atoms is higher.
Because c2 is such a large number, a very tiny mass is equivalent to a large
amount of energy. In the early days of nuclear physics, E=mc2 revealed the
enormous energy locked up inside an atoms nucleus by the strong nuclear force
that holds the protons and neutrons together. It was this that alerted nuclear
physicists just before World War II to the possibility of a nuclear bomb. The
energy released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of that
war (smallish by modern standards) resulted from a reduction in relativistic mass
of about 0.7g (slightly less than the mass of a standard wire paperclip).

Evil twins

he most extreme massenergy


conversion involves antimatter.
For every kind of matter particle
there is an equivalent antimatter
particle, an evil twin, bearing
properties (such as charge) of
opposite sign. Particles and their
antiparticles have the same rest
mass. When a particle meets its
antiparticle, they mutually
annihilateall their opposing
properties cancel, leaving only
their mass-energy, which is
usually released in the form of
two gamma-ray photons. Matter
antimatter annihilation has been
suggested (speculatively) as a
possible propellant for powering
future interstellar spacecraft.

Discuss the implications of


mass increase, time dilation
and length contraction for
space travel.

Worked example
question
When free protons and neutrons become bound together to form a nucleus, the reduction in
nuclear potential energy (binding energy) is released, normally in the form of gamma rays.
Relativity says this loss in energy is reflected in a decrease in mass of the resulting atom.
73

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Exploding
a myth

t is commonly believed (wrongly)


that Einstein was involved in the
US nuclear bomb project. Perhaps
this is because, during World War
II, the nuclear physicists Leo
Szilard, Eugene Wigner and
Edward Teller, knowing such a
bomb was possible and worried the
Nazis might build one, wrote a
letter to President Roosevelt
suggesting the US beat them to it.
They asked their friend Einstein to
sign it because, being the most
well-known scientist at the time,
he would be taken seriously. Apart
from that, Einstein did two days
work on the theory behind uranium
enrichment.

Calculate how much energy is released when free protons, neutrons and electrons
combine to form 4.00g of helium-4 atoms (2 protons + 2neutrons + 2 electrons). At room
temperature and pressure, each 4g of helium gas is about 25L, roughly the volume of an
inflatable beach ball.
Data:

Mass of proton mp=1.6726221027kg

Mass of neutron mn=1.6749271027kg

Mass of electron me=9.111031kg

Mass of helium atom mHe=6.6464761027kg

c2 = 8.98761016m2 s2

Solution
Total mass of the parts:

mT = 2(mp+mn+me) = 2(1.672622 + 1.674927 + 0.000911)1027kg

= 6.696921027kg

Reduction in mass:

m = mT mHe = (6.69692 6.646476)1027kg

= 5.04441029kg

Binding energy per He atom:


E = mc2 = 5.04441029kg8.98761016m2 s2

= 4.53371012J

Binding energy for 4.00 g (0.004 kg):


4.53371012J
0.004 kg = 2.731012J
mHe
This much energy would be released by the explosion of more than 600 tonnes of TNT.

Some physicists dislike the definition of relativistic mass mv of a moving object


and prefer to talk only about the energy of an object (and its rest mass m0). There
are problems with the definition, including the fact that relativistic mass doesnt
behave like a scalar, because it can be different along different directions.

Checkpoint 3.4
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

74

Discuss why, if Lorentz and Fitzgerald came up with the correct formula for length contraction, Einstein gets the
credit for explaining relativistic length contraction.
Write the formula for length contraction. Would a ruler moving lengthwise relative to you appear shorter or longer?
Define the term proper length.
To what limit does observed length of a moving object tend as speed approaches c?
Write the formula for relativistic mass. Would a mass moving relative to you appear larger or smaller?
Use relativistic mass to justify the statement that the speed of light is the universal speed limit.
Define all the terms in the equation E = mc2 and explain what the equation means.
Explain why an atom weighs less than the sum of its parts.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

space

CHAPTER 3

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

60

20

10

20 30 40
0 10
50

90 8

0 70 60 50

40

30

Discussion questions
1 The principle method for detecting a non-inertial frame is measurement
of acceleration. Describe an example of a non-inertial frame in which
a typical accelerometer would not appear to measure an acceleration or
detect extra fictitious forces.
2 Is there a test that can be performed within a frame of reference to tell
if the effect measured by the accelerometer is the result of acceleration
of the frame or due to an actual additional force?

80

Perform an investigation that allows you to distinguish between inertial and


non-inertial frames of reference.
Equipment: protractor, string, mass (50 g), tape, cardboard, chair on wheels
or skateboard.

Perform an investigation to
help distinguish between
non-inertial and inertial frames
of reference.

70

Activity 3.1: Fact or fiction: Inertial and


non-inertial frames of reference

Figure 3.5.1 An accelerometer

Activity 3.2: Interpreting the MichelsonMorley


experiment results
Use simulations to gather data from the MichelsonMorley experiment. You will
gather data as though there is and is not an aether, and then interpret the results.
There are many MichelsonMorley experiment simulations available. Two
web-based examples are given on the companion website.

Gather and process information


to interpret the results of the
MichelsonMorley experiment.

Discussion questions
1 Describe what Michelson and Morley were expecting to observe if aether
were present.
2 Using the data you have gathered, explain how your observations support
or refute the existence of the aether.
3 Recall the interpretation put forward by Michelson and Morley.
4 Discuss the importance of this experiment.
Extension
1 Research the history of how long the belief in aether persisted in some
physicists after the publication of special relativity in 1905.
2 Read the following paper, which contains a thorough review of the history
of the MichelsonMorley experiment, including historical letters to and
from several researchers:
Shankland, RS, 1964, MichelsonMorley Experiment, American Journal
of Physics, vol.32, p 16.

75

Chapter summary

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Inertial reference frames are those that do not accelerate.


Principle of relativity: The laws of mechanics are the
same in all inertial reference frames. Einstein extended it
to all laws of physics (first postulate of relativity).
When judged within a non-inertial frame, fictitious
forces are perceived.
Maxwells equations for electromagnetism predicted
only a single possible speed for light, which was assumed
to be relative to a hypothetical medium called aether.
Michelson and Morley failed to detect changes in speed
due to aether wind, using an interferometer. Fitzgerald
and Lorentz made the ad hoc suggestion that things
contract when moving relative to the aether, hiding the
effect of the changing relative speed of light.
Einstein and others argued that aether was not required
by Maxwells equations and was inconsistent with the
principle of relativity.
Second postulate of relativity: The speed of light is
constant to all observers.
The speed of light is the fastest possible speed.
The finite speed of light means different observers
disagree on the simultaneity and order of events. Only
events at the same time and place are agreed by all
observers to be simultaneous.
1
Lorentz factor: =
v2
1 2
c
Proper time t0 is a time interval measured on a clock
stationary in the observers frame.

Proper length l0 is the length of an object stationary in


the observers frame.
Proper or rest mass m0 is the mass of an object stationary
in the observers frame.
t0
Time dilation: t v =
v2
1 2
c
Clocks (and all time-dependent phenomena) evolve in
time more slowly if they are moving relative to the
observers frame.
v2
Length contraction: l v = l 0 1 2
c
Length lv of an object moving relative to the observers
frame contracts in the direction of motion.
m0
Relativistic mass: mv =
v2
1 2
c
Mass of an object mv moving relative to the observers
frame increases.
Two observers in separate inertial frames will agree on
their relative speed v.
However, both observers will judge the other observer to
be moving and, hence, subject to time dilation, length
contraction and relativistic mass increase. They disagree,
but both are correct because these three quantities are
relative. Only when two observers are in the same frame
will they agree on these.
Mass and energy are equivalent: E = mc2. A small mass
is equivalent to a large energy.

Review questions
Physically speaking
Use the words below to complete the
following paragraph:

Inertial _______________ have _______________ status in _______________ mechanics.


_______________s laws apply in these frames. If one performs measurements

Galileo, Newton, Einsteins, Maxwell,

in _______________, then _______________ forces might be perceived. Classical


mechanics and _______________ relativity both agree that physical laws are

constancy, fictitious, change,

_______________ in _______________ frames. However, they disagree on the

non-inertial frames, length, observer,


classical, value, invariant, mass, time,
frames, speed, inertial, special

_______________ of the speed of light. According to _______________s equations,

the _______________ of the speed of light does not _______________ between frames,
so light doesnt obey the transformation formula of _______________. Because of
this, measurements of _______________, _______________ and _______________ within
a reference frame moving relative to the _______________, will depend on the
_______________ of that frame.

76

space

Reviewing
1 You have a priceless Elvis Presley doll hanging from
your rear-vision mirror at a constant angle from
vertical. Elviss feet lean towards the front of the car.
Are you driving:
A forwards at uniform speed?
B backwards at uniform speed?
C forwards but accelerating?
D forwards but decelerating?

Solve problems and analyse information using:


E = mc2
l v = l0 1
tv =

exerted on you by the seatbelt fictitious? Centrifugal


force normally refers to the fictitious force you feel
pushing you outwards when you steer a car. Some
people have suggested re-defining centrifugal force as
the outward reaction force you exert on the seat belt
in response to the centripetal force it exerts on you.
Re-defined in this way, is centrifugal force still
fictitious? Justify your answers.

3 At the end of the 19th century, no-one was able to


travel at close to the speed of light, and clocks, rulers
and mass balances werent sensitive enough to
measure relativistic changes. So why did the
problems with classical physics start to become
obvious then?

4 Explain why interferometry is an extremely sensitive


method for measuring short differences in time
or length.

5 Explain why Michelson and Morley performed their


experiment at different times of the day and year.

6 If we were an entire civilisation of blind people relying


on sound instead of light to decide the simultaneity
of events, would our equations for relativistic length,
time and mass contain c=340ms1 (the speed of
sound in air) instead? Whats so special about the
speed of light? Discuss.

7 In Figure 3.3.2b, the dimensions of the light path


have been drawn correctly. However, for simplicity,
two aspects of the trains appearance to observer v
have been left out. Describe two changes that would
need to be made to Figure 3.3.2b to represent these
effects more correctly.

8 Suppose our relativistic twins Bill and Phil both got


into spacecraft, went off in opposite directions and
took journeys at relativistic speeds that were mirror
images (judged from Earth). Predict and explain:
a how their apparent ages will compare when they
come back home
b how their apparent ages will be judged by stay-athome earthlings.

mv =

c2

t0
1

2 In a car that is cornering, is the centripetal force

v2

v2
c2

m0
1

v2
c2

9 Prunella and Renfrew, two observers in inertial frames


moving relative to each other, will always agree on
their relative speed v. A third observer, Thor, standing
between them, sees them both coming towards him
from opposite directions, at equal speeds. Is it correct
to say that relative to Thor, Prunella and Renfrew are
both moving at a speed of v|2?

10 A stretch-limo drove into a small garage at near light


speed. The garage attendant slammed the garage
door behind the car. For a brief time the attendant
saw that the relativistically shortened limo was
completely contained between the closed garage door
and the rear garage wall. A short time later, the stillmoving car smashed through the back wall. As far as
the driver was concerned, the garage was shortened
and the limo was too long for the garage so the limo
was never contained between a closed door and the
intact back wall. Reconcile the two differing accounts
of what happened. (Hint: See section 3.3.)

11 Show that mc2 has the units and dimensions of energy.


12 In a perfectly inelastic collision, two colliding objects
stick together. In a symmetrical inelastic collision
between two identical objects, the final speed is zero
in the frame of their centre of mass. Given that massenergy is conserved in an inertial frame, is the mass of
the system the same as before the collision? Explain.
(Hint: What happens to kinetic energy in an inelastic
collision?)

77

Seeing in a
weird light:
relativity

Solving Problems
13 Depending on your answer to Question 1, calculate
the magnitude of your speed or acceleration if the
Elvis Presley doll hangs at a constant angle of 10
from vertical.

Solve problems and analyse information using:


E = mc2
l v = l0 1

14 The caption for Figure 3.2.3b states that increasing


the length of the arms would increase sensitivity to
changes in the speed of light. Justify this, using the
equations given in that section.


L = L 1 v 2 c2
then the difference t2t1 between the times of flight
for the two arms would be zero. Use the equations
given for t2 and t1 in section3.2.

16 In the worked example of your trip to Proxima


Centauri (Figure 3.4.4), one member of the crew had
a mass 80kg at launch. Assuming his normal diet
and physiology were maintained, what would you
expect his mass to be during the trip:
a as measured on the spaceship?
b as judged from Earth?

17 Your rival in the space race plans a trip to Alpha


Centauri, which is slightly further away (4.37ly). She
wants to do the trip in 3.5years (one-way) as judged
by her own on-board clock.
a What speed (as a fraction of c) does she need to
maintain?
b How long does the trip take as judged from Earth?

19 For subatomic particles, a more conveniently sized


(non-SI) unit of energy is the electron volt (eV). The
conversion is E(eV)=E(J)/e where e=1.601019C,
the charge on an electron. A mega-electron volt (MeV)
is 106eV.

For the worked example on page 71, show that the


kinetic energy of the electron in the medical linac
beam is 6.4MeV (me=9.111031kg). What is the
total energy of that electron?

20 Estimate the total energy (in joules) released by the

Re

78

iew

Q uesti o

Hiroshima bomb (m0 = 0.7g).

c2

v2
c2

21 In their rest frame, muons have a mean lifetime of

2.2106s. However, measurements (at various


altitudes) of muons produced by cosmic rays indicate
that, on average, they travel 6.00103m from where
they are produced in the upper atmosphere before
decaying. Calculate their average speed (as a fraction
of c).

22 Show that if the speed of light were infinite, the


following equations would revert to their classical
form.
a
b

18 Calculate the total energy in the two gamma ray


photons produced when an electron meets a positron
(an anti-electron) (me=9.111031kg).

v2

m0

mv =

that (in agreement with Fitzgerald and Lorentzs


suggestion) if the length L of the interferometer arm
parallel to the aether wind shrinks to

c2

t0

tv =

15 Supposing the aether hypothesis were correct, show

v2

2 2

l v = l0 1 v c
tv =

t0

2 2

1v c

mv =

m0

2 2

1 v c

v (A rel. to B) =

vA vB

1 vA vB / c 2

23 Research the history of relativity and list up to five


historically important experimental confirmations of
its predictions. Make a timeline of the events. Note
that some experiments may pre-date relativity. For
example, in 1901 W Kaufmann measured the
increase in an electrons mass as its speed increased.
If possible, identify whether such examples came to
Einsteins attention before he formulated his theory.
Analyse information to discuss the relationship between
theory and the evidence supporting it, using Einsteins
predictions based on relativity that were made many
years before evidence was available to support it.

space

PHYSICS FOCUS
Cant measure the speed
of light

he French metric system, which evolved into the


Systme International dUnits or SI units, was
originally based on artefact standards. The standard
metre bar and kilogram were real objects (or artefacts)
in Paris. Artefacts can degrade or be damaged, and
making copies for standards labs is expensive, slow
and unreliable. Artefact standards are now being
replaced by fundamental physical property standards.
One second is now defined as a certain number of
periods of oscillation of a very stable light frequency in
the spectrum of cesium-133 (in atomic clocks).
Measurement standards often involve sensitive
interferometry. The metre was changed in 1960 from
the original bar to a certain number of wavelengths
(measured interferometrically) of a colour from the
krypton-86 spectrum.
Being invariant, the speed of light is very useful for
standards. Interferometric measurements of the speed
of light became so precise that the weakest link was
the experimental difficulty in reproducing the
So in 1983 the
krypton-86 standard metre.
speed of light was fixed by definition at exactly
299792458ms1 and the standard metre was
redefined as the distance travelled by light in
1|299792458 of a second. Now, any lab with an
interferometer and an atomic clock can produce its
own standard metre.
Since 1983, by definition, the speed of light can
no longer be measured. Traditional procedures for
measuring the speed of light should now be called
measuring the length of a metre.
The last artefact standard, the platinumiridium
kilogram in Paris, appears to be changing mass slightly.
The Avogadro project at Australias CSIRO is trying to
develop a replacement for it with a procedure for
making and testing (almost) perfect spheres of silicon
that could be made in standards labs around the world
without the need to copy the original sphere directly.
The spheres are measured using interferometry, with the
best result so far being an overall distortion from
sphericity of 30nm and an average smoothness of 0.3nm.

2. The nature and practice of physics

3. Applications and uses of physics

5. Current issues, research and


developments in physics
Discuss the concept that length standards are
defined in terms of time in contrast to the original
metre standard.

1 Explain why standards based on fundamental


physics properties are preferable to artefacts.
2 Justify (in light of relativity) the statement that the
speed of light is an especially good property on
which to base a measurement standard.
3 The 1960 metre standard was based on light from
krypton-86. Explain why it needed to specify the light
source and why the new metre standard doesnt.
4 Given that the value of the speed of light is now
arbitrarily fixed, discuss why they didnt just make
the speed of light a nice round number such as
3.00000000108ms1.
5 A single atomic layer of silicon is approximately
5.41010m thick. For the best silicon sphere in
the Avogradro project, to approximately how many
atomic layers does the reported distortion from
sphericity and average smoothness correspond?

Figure 3.5.2 One of CSIROs accurate silicon spheres

79

The review contains questions in a similar style and proportion to


the HSC Physics examination. Marks are allocated to each question
up to a total of 30marks. It should take you approximately
54 minutes to complete this review.

Multiple choice
(1 mark each)
1 Ignoring air resistance, all projectiles fired
horizontally from the same height above horizontal
ground will have the same:
A horizontal velocity.
B time of flight.
C range.
D final speed.

Which of the following orbits has a two-body


mechanical energy greater than zero?
A Geostationary
B Elliptical
C Parabolic
D Non-returning comet

You have just rounded the top of a curve on a rollercoaster. The g-force meter you are carrying reads
exactly zero. Which one of the following is true?
A Your weight is the centripetal force.
B Your weight is zero.
C Your weight is equal and opposite to the normal
force exerted on you by the seat.
D Your weight is equal and opposite to the tension
in your body.

80

The MichelsonMorley experiment demonstrated that:


A the aether wind was undetectable.
B waves do not require a medium.
C one arm of the interferometer contracted in
response to the aether wind.
D aether is trapped by mountains and valleys and
dragged along with the Earth.

Observer A on the ground, watches a train


(containing observer B) rush past at speed v. Both
make measurements of things in each others frame
of reference. From the following list of statements,
choose the statement they disagree on.
A The other observers frame of reference is moving
with speed v.
B The apparent length of my own metre ruler is
longer than the apparent length of other
observers metre ruler.
C Observer Bs watch appears to run slower than
observer As watch.
D The height of the train carriage ceiling is 2.2 m
above the carriage floor.

Short response
6 The escape velocity from the Earths surface, based

on Newtons original concept, is 11.2 kms1. Briefly


explain two ways in which this number is not quite
applicable to real Earth-surface launches. (2 marks)

7 Calculate the potential energy of a 2500 kg satellite


in a geostationary orbit around the Earth. Assume
a sidereal day is 23h 56min 4s. (3 marks)

8 In their rest frame, charged pions have a mean

lifetime of 2.60108s. A particular beam of


charged pions travel an average distance of 30m
before decaying. Calculate their speed (as a fraction
of the speed of light). (4 marks)

9 Explain why if you are in a circular orbit and you


briefly retro-fire your engines to slow down, you move
to a faster orbit. (3 marks)

space
10 A 9000 kg helicopter is parked at the equator and
then later near the North Pole. Assuming the two
locations are chosen so that the gravitational potential
energy is the same at the two spots, estimate the
difference in relativistic mass at the two locations.
At which location will the mass be larger? (Hint:
Velocity is low, so use the classical expression for
kinetic energy.) (3 marks)

Extended response
11 Critically discuss the following proposition: The
MichelsonMorley experiment was an embarrassment
for physics because, despite a large effort, it failed to
find what it was looking for and so it should be
relegated to the dustbin of physics history. (5 marks)

12 The following formula relates the length of a



pendulum (L) to the period of its swing (T).


L
T = 2
g
During your studies in physics you carried out an
experiment to determine acceleration due to gravity.
Describe and explain a method you would use to
perform this measurement. (5 marks)

81

2
Context

Figure 4.0.1 A generator produces electricity


in each of these wind turbines.

82

Motors and
Generators
The first recorded observations of the relationship between electricity and
magnetism date back more than 400 years. Many unimagined discoveries
followed, but progress never waits. Before we understood their nature, inventions
utilising electricity and magnetism had changed our world forever.
Today our lives revolve around these forms of energy. The lights you use to
read this book rely on them and the CD inside it would be nothing but a shiny
coaster for your cup. We use magnetism to generate the electricity that drives
industry, discovery and invention. Electricity and magnetism are a foundation for
modern technology, deeply seated in the global economy, and our use impacts
heavily on the environment.
The greatest challenge that faces future generations is the supply of energy.
As fossil fuels dry up, electricity and magnetism will become even more
important. New and improved technologies will be needed. Whether its a hybrid
car, a wind turbine or a nuclear fusion power plant, they all rely on applications
of electricity and magnetism.

Figure 4.0.2 A simple homopolar motor

INQUIRY ACTIVITY
Build your own electric motor
Many of the devices you use every day have electric motors. They spin your DVDs,
wash your clothes and even help cook your food. Could you live without them,
and how much do you know about how they work?
The essential ingredients for a motor are a power source, a magnetic field
and things to connect these together in the right way. Its not as hard as you
think. All you need is a battery, a wood screw, a piece of wire and a cylindrical or
spherical magnet. Put these things together as shown in Figure 4.0.2 and see
if you can get your motor to spin. Be patient and keep trying. Then try the
following activities.
1 Test the effects of changing the voltage you use. You could add another
battery in series or try a battery with a higher voltage.
2 Try changing the strength of the magnet by using a different magnet or
adding another. What does this affect?
3 Try changing the length of the screw, how sharp its point is or the material
it is made from. Does it have to be made of iron?

83

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic
fields
Strange but true

electric current, conventional


current, magnetic field, force,
direct current (DC), alternating current
(AC), voltage, potential difference,
right-hand grip rule,
right-hand palm rule, motor effect,
current-carrying conductor

Some of the most surprising discoveries in science have come from


the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Who would have
thought that a current-carrying wire can act as a magnet? Could
anyone have guessed that moving a magnet could create electricity,
or that moving charges get a push from magnetic fields?
All these amazing facts were discovered by people who were
curious, creative and dedicated. They were interested
enough to find out how things work, and now its your
turn. Dust off your imagination and get ready to
picture the concepts behind many applications of
electricity and magnetism.

4.1 Review of essential concepts


In this module you will develop and apply an understanding of the relationship
between electricity and magnetism. First we need to review some essential
concepts you encountered in the Preliminary course (see in2 Physics @
Preliminary Chapters 10 and 12). You will need to recall these concepts
throughout this module and apply them to new situations.

Electric current
In the presence of an electric field, charged particles and free ions will move
towards a region with an opposite electric charge. In this module we will be
considering the movement of electrons within metal conductors such as copper.
If you connect a wire to the terminals of a battery, as in Figure 4.1.1, an electric
field is set up along the length of the wire between the two ends. The free
electrons in the metal wire are then attracted towards the positive terminal. The
movement of these electrons is called an electric current. Protons are bound
tightly inside the nuclei of atoms and the nuclei are essentially fixed in position.
This means that when a wire is connected to a battery the only charges free to
move inside the wire are the free electrons.
84

motors and
generators
An electric current is defined as the rate of flow of net charge through
a region. In the wire in Figure 4.1.1, a number of electrons will flow through the
area A each second, and each electron carries a charge of 1.6 1019 coulombs.
If the current is 1ampere (or 1amp), it carries 1 coulomb of charge per second
through area A, which is more than 6billion billion electrons each second.
We now know that the nature of an electric current is actually a flow of electrons.
However, in electric circuits we often consider currents as if they were a flow of
positive particles. This type of current is called conventional current and it is in the
opposite direction to the flow of the negatively charged electrons. This confusing
situation has arisen because current was first thought to be a flow of positive particles.
Conventional methods for determining the direction of other physical quantities,
such as magnetic fields and forces, have been developed using the conventional
direction of current. So we will stick with these historical conventions.
It is important throughout this module to consider the direction of an
electric current as the direction in which a positive charge would flow through a
conductor. In Figure 4.1.1, conventional current flows from the positive terminal
towards the negative terminal, as indicated by the arrow along the wire.
An electrical current in which the charges only flow in one direction is
called direct current (DC). This current is commonly used in small portable
electronic devices and is supplied by a battery. One way of illustrating this type
of current graphically is shown in Figure 4.1.2.
The red line on the graph is a direct current measured by a digital ammeter.
The sign of the current (+ or ) represents the direction in which the current is
travelling. You can see that in this example the current has a constant value and
direction over time.
In contrast to direct current, an alternating current (AC) is continually
changing direction. The sign of the terminal at each end of an AC circuit
alternates between positive and negative over time. Each time this occurs, the
electric field within the wire changes direction. This reverses the direction of the
force on the charges within the wire and the current changes direction accordingly.
This type of current is good for transporting electrical energy over large distances
and is commonly used in larger appliances. In Figure 4.1.2, an AC current
measured by a digital ammeter is shown as a blue line. As the current changes
direction the blue line moves above or below the horizontal
axis. The corresponding change in sign of the current
indicates a change in the currents direction.

Potential difference, emf and voltage


The work done by any electrical device can be traced back to
the creation of a difference in electrical potential energy. In
Figure 4.1.1, a chemical reaction separates the charges inside
the battery. This causes a difference in electrical potential
energy between the positive and negative terminals of the
The battery energy given to each coulomb
battery.
of charge within the battery is measured in volts and is
commonly called an emf (). In an ideal battery it is equal to
the voltage measured at the terminals when the battery is not
connected to a circuit. For this type of battery this is usually
about 1.5 V.

area
A

Figure 4.1.1 A battery creates an electric


field within the wire and
a current flows.

DC

+
AC
Current (A)

Direct current and alternating current

copper wire

10 20

30

40

50

Time
(ms)

Figure 4.1.2 A graph of AC and DC over time

Flick of a switch

he charges in a current-carrying wire travel along


the wire much more slowly than the speed at
which you normally walk. Why then does a light
come on instantly when you flick the switch? All the
free electrons in the wire start moving at the same
time under the influence of the electric field in the
wire. When you flick the switch, this field travels
along the wire at close to the speed of light. Almost
instantly all the free electrons are moving and losing
energy in the light bulb.
85

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields

Birds on a wire

ave you ever wondered why


birds can happily sit on
power lines and not get
electrocuted? No, those wires are
not insulated. For a current to
flow through a bird on a wire,
there would have to be a potential
difference between its feet. If the
bird could stand on the wire and
touch any other object such as
the ground or another wire then it
would get the shock of its life.

Figure 4.1.3 There is no potential


difference between
the birds feet.

When a wire is connected to the batterys terminals (see Figure 4.1.1), an


electric field is set up within the wire. The electric field drives electrons from the
negative terminal, through the wire to the positive terminal. As the electrons
move through a circuit element, such as a light bulb, they collide with the ions in
the metal lattice. During these collisions they lose kinetic energy to the metal
lattice. The metal lattice then loses this energy as heat; in the light bulb it is also
lost as visible light.
The energy lost in the circuit element corresponds to a loss of electrical
The difference in potential
potential energy by the charges in the current.
energy per unit of charge between the two points either side of a circuit element
is known as the potential difference, potential drop or voltage (V). We can
measure this potential difference by connecting a voltmeter to the circuit in
parallel with the circuit element.

Resistance and Ohms law


Recall that the structure of a metallic conductor is essentially a lattice of metal
atoms (or ions) surrounded by a sea of free electrons. If a potential difference V
is established within the metal, these free electrons will flow as a current I.
The amount of current that flows due to this potential difference is
V
determined by the electrical resistance of the material, which is defined by R =
I
and measured in ohms (). A material that has a relatively high resistance
will only conduct a relatively small current for a given potential difference.
The resistance in a conductor is a result of the collisions of the moving
charges with the ions of the metal lattice. Basically, the more collisions the free
electrons have with the lattice the higher the resistance. Recall that the length,
cross-sectional area, temperature and type of material within the conductor
influence resistance.
In many circuit components, the ratio of voltage divided by current is a
This relationship is known as Ohms law and describes the
constant.
relationship in which V and I are proportional for a circuit, or circuit
component, with a fixed resistance R.

Resistance and power


The wire filament of the light bulb in Figure 4.1.1 has a very high resistance and,
therefore, a large amount of the available energy within the circuit is lost within
the bulb. This energy heats the filament in the blub to such a high temperature
that it emits visible light.
Whether energy in a circuit is lost as heat or in turning an electric motor, the
rate at which energy is converted into another form is called electric power P:
Power =

energy transferred
time taken for transfer

Recall that:
P = IV
V2
Substituting Ohms law V = IR: P = I2R or P =
R
where P is power in watts (W).
Watts are equivalent to joules per second (Js1), so we can determine the
energy lost:
Energy = Pt
where energy is in joules (J) and time is in seconds (s).
86

motors and
generators

Magnetic fields produced by electric currents


A magnetic field exists in a region of space if a magnet at some point in that
space would experience a magnetic force. From in2 Physics @ Preliminary
section 12.3, you know that a current-carrying conductor produces a magnetic
field. You can observe this circular magnetic field around a current-carrying wire
if you place a magnetic compass needle at various locations around the wire
(see Figure 4.1.4).
We represent magnetic fields by solid lines, called magnetic field lines, and
label these lines with the symbol B. These lines represent the places where the
magnetic field has the same strength. We also place arrow heads along these
By convention,
magnetic field lines to indicate the direction of the field.
the arrow heads indicate the direction in which the north pole of a magnet
would point within the magnetic field (see the compass needles in Figure 4.1.4).
You can work out the direction of the magnetic field in Figure 4.1.5
by using the right-hand grip rule. Grip the wire with your right hand and
point the thumb in the direction of the conventional current along the wire.
Remember, this is the direction in which positive particles would flow, from the
positive to the negative terminal. Your curled fingers will now point in the
direction of the magnetic field around the wire.
There are several conventions we need to recall when we draw twodimensional diagrams showing currents and magnetic fields. For example, when
we view the situation shown in Figure 4.1.5 from above, we represent this as
shown in Figure 4.1.6. The symbol in the centre indicates that the current is
coming towards you (out of the page). When viewing the situation from below,
we represent this as shown in Figure 4.1.7. The symbol in the centre indicates
the current is flowing away from you (into the page). Notice that the magnetic
field lines shown in Figures 4.1.6 and 4.1.7 are drawn more closely near the wire,
where the field becomes stronger.
The and symbols indicate that the current is flowing out of and
into the page respectively. You can remember this convention if you imagine that
is the head of an archers arrow coming out of the page at you. The crossed
feathers in the back of the arrow are represented by , indicating that the arrow
is pointing away from you.
We also represent magnetic fields in two-dimensional diagrams as shown in
To show that the magnetic field points into or out of the
Figure 4.1.8.
page, we use or respectively. Use the right-hand grip rule to determine the

Figure 4.1.6 Magnetic field lines around


a conventional current going
out of the page

Figure 4.1.4 A straight wire carrying a


current deflects the compasses
around it in a circular pattern.
electric current I

magnetic field B

Figure 4.1.5 The curled fingers point in the


direction of the magnetic field
when the thumb points in the
direction of the conventional
current along the wire.

Figure 4.1.7 Magnetic field lines around


a conventional current going
into the page
87

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields
conventional current I

Figure 4.1.8 Magnetic field lines into ()


and out of () the page for a
wire carrying a conventional
current upwards in the plane
of the page

(a)

direction of the magnetic field around the wire in Figure 4.1.8. You should see
that the magnetic field lines would go into the page on the right-hand side of the
wire (represented by ) and come out of the page on the left (represented by ).
An extension of the situations you have reviewed above is the magnetic field
around a current-carrying wire loop. Again we use the right-hand grip rule to
determine the direction of the magnetic field around the current-carrying wire
(Figure 4.1.9). Notice that the magnetic field in the centre of the loop always
points in the same direction, no matter where your hand is around the loop.
In the following chapters there are many situations that involve loops of wire
carrying currents; therefore, it is important you are familiar with the magnetic
field that is produced around them.
Most applications of magnetic fields in current-carrying wire loops actually
involve more than one loop. Each loop is called a turn, and many turns together
are known as a solenoid (Figure 4.1.10). A solenoid is simply a long coil of wire,
and the magnetic field produced is similar to that of a bar magnet, with a north
The direction of the magnetic field through
and south pole at each end.
the centre of the solenoid is determined by using a special version of the righthand grip rule (Figure 4.1.10). In this situation, you must curl your fingers in
the direction of the conventional current around the solenoid and your thumb
will point in the direction of the magnetic field. Your thumb will point to the
end of the solenoid that forms a north pole. A coil such as this is used to make
an electromagnet or simply to produce a magnetic field.

(b)

Figure 4.1.9 (a) The right-hand grip rule


can be used for a current loop.
(b) Magnetic field lines around
a single wire loop

Figure 4.1.10 The right-hand grip rule is


used to find the direction of
the magnetic field inside the
solenoid.

The North Pole?

id you know that the


Earths north geographic
pole is actually its south
magnetic pole? The north pole
of a magnet is attracted towards
the north geographic pole and
therefore it must be a south
magnetic pole. Did you also
know that the Earths magnetic
field changes direction? At
irregular intervals of about
250000 years the polarity of
the Earths magnetic field flips
and points in the opposite
direction. Scientists are not
sure of the effects of this flip
or for how long the field
disappears during each flip.

Geographic
North Pole

Magnetic
South Pole

Magnetic
North Pole

Geographic
South Pole

Figure 4.1.11 The Earth acts as though it has a south magnetic pole near the geographic
north pole! The magnetic north pole is the place to which the north end of
a compass appears to point.

88

motors and
generators

Checkpoint 4.1

1 Define the nature and direction of conventional direct current.


2 Construct two-dimensional diagrams illustrating the magnetic field around a current-carrying wire from two
different perspectives (end-on and side-on).
3 Sketch and compare two diagrams illustrating the magnetic field around a bar magnet and a current-carrying
solenoid.

4.2 Forces on charged particles


in magnetic fields
We have already seen that free charged particles move when placed in an electric
field, because they experience a force (Figure 4.1.1). This force is caused by the
attraction and repulsion that charged particles experience within the field.
Knowing why this occurs, it might seem strange to hear that a charged particle
also experiences a force due to a magnetic field. There is, however, one important
A charged particle only experiences a force in a magnetic field
difference.
when the particle is moving relative to the magnetic field, or if the strength of
the magnetic field is changing. It is important to know that stationary charges or
charges moving parallel to the magnetic field do not experience a force.
In Figure 4.2.1a, a positively charged particle, lets say a proton of charge q,
is travelling upwards with a velocity v within a horizontal magnetic field B. The
proton experiences a force F in a direction perpendicular to both the magnetic
field and the direction in which it is moving. The force is given by F = qvB. The
way we can tell the direction in which the force is acting is to introduce another
right-hand rule. This rule is commonly called the right-hand palm
a
rule (or the right-hand push rule) and is illustrated in Figure 4.2.1b.
To find the direction of the force that a positive particle will
experience when moving through a perpendicular magnetic field:
1 Place your open right hand with the fingers pointing in the
direction of the magnetic field (north to south).
2 Place your thumb at right angles to your fingers and in the
direction in which the particle is travelling.
b
3 The force on the positive particle will be directed out of your
palm and at right angles to your hand.
We can conclude that the proton in Figure 4.2.1a will experience
a force out of the page at right angles to both the magnetic field and
the direction in which the proton is travelling. Note that if we know
the direction of any two of the three quantities represented in the
right-hand palm rule, we can use this rule to determine the direction
of the third quantity.

v
B
S

direction in which the


particle is travelling
with velocity v

B
direction of the
magnetic field
direction of the force F
on the positive particle

Figure 4.2.1 The right-hand palm rule is used


to find the direction of a force
acting on a positively charged
particle in a magnetic field.

89

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields

Try this!
Bending beams of particles
Ask your teacher if they can show you a beam of electrons
in a Crookes magnetic deflection tube (see Figure 4.2.2).
With teacher supervision, bring the north pole of a magnet
close to the front of the tube and observe the effect on the
beam of electrons. By the right-hand palm rule, negative
particles experience a force out of the back of your hand.
Try to predict the direction in which electrons will be
deflected when you place the south pole of the magnet
close to the front of the tube. Now try it and then explain
it to a friend. Do they agree with your explanation?

Figure 4.2.2 A Crookes magnetic deflection tube


produces a beam of electrons.

Checkpoint 4.2
1 Explain why a stationary charged particle experiences a force when you move a magnet past it.
2 Identify the direction in which the proton in Figure 4.2.1a would be moving for it to experience a force into the page.

4.3 The motor effect

Identify that the motor effect


is due to the force acting on
a current-carrying conductor
in a magnetic field.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 4.1

Activity Manual, Page


27

90

In the previous section we saw that charges moving in a magnetic field


If a current-carrying conductor is placed in an external
experience a force.
magnetic field, the wire also experiences a force and this is called the motor
effect. This effect occurs because the charges within the wire are travelling
through the magnetic field and experience a force, just as they would if they were
Remember, we are considering
free charged particles (see Figure 4.2.1a).
current to be a flow of positive particles. It is actually the negative electrons
that experience the force from the magnetic field. It works just fine to use
conventional current and consider the force is acting on positive particles to keep
things simple.
We can now use the right-hand palm rule we saw in section 4.2 to work out
the direction of the force on a current-carrying wire in an external magnetic field
To find the direction of the force that acts on a current(see Figure 4.3.1).
carrying wire that is perpendicular to an external magnetic field:
1 Place your open right hand with the fingers pointing in the direction of the
magnetic field (north to south).
2 Place your thumb at right angles to your fingers and in the direction in which
the conventional current is flowing (from the positive to negative terminals
in the circuit).
3 The force experienced by the wire will be directed out of your palm at right
angles to your hand.

motors and
generators
When we allow current to flow through a wire
within the magnetic field in Figure 4.3.1, we see
that the wire moves out of the page, at right angles
to both the magnetic field and the direction of the
conventional current. Each positive particle of the
conventional current within the wire in Figure 4.3.1
experiences a force due to its motion within the
external magnetic field. Since these positive particles
are within the wire, the force acts on the wire.

I
S

direction in which the I


current is flowing

B
direction of the
magnetic field
F

Figure 4.3.1 The right-hand palm

PHYSICS FEATURE

Identify data sources, gather and process


information to qualitatively describe the
application of the motor effect in:
the galvanometer
the loudspeaker.

Loudspeakers

n excellent example of an application of the motor


effect is a loudspeaker. This device is a key part
of telephones, televisions and any other appliance in
which an electrical signal needs to be converted into
sound for us to hear. Figure 4.3.2a shows the most
fundamental parts of a typical loudspeaker labelled
A to D. Figure 4.3.2b illustrates its operation via the
motor effect.
A loudspeaker contains a current-carrying coil (C),
which is commonly called the voice coil. This coil is
wound around a hollow cardboard tube (B) and the
tube is fixed to the cone of the speaker (A). The voice
coil is suspended inside a cylindrical permanent
magnet (D) that provides a uniform magnetic field at
right angles to the coil. An alternating current is passed
through the voice coil, causing the cone to rise and fall
due to the motor effect. Each time the speaker cone
pushes outwards on the air, it creates a wave of
pressure that travels away from the speaker. These
waves of air pressure are sound waves. By varying the
frequency of the alternating current in the voice coil,
the frequency (or pitch) of the sound can be varied.
This means that speakers can generate a variety of
sounds and reproduce sounds recorded elsewhere.
At the moment in time shown in Figure 4.3.2b,
the current is travelling out of the page on the left
side of the voice coil. Using the right-hand palm rule

Figure 4.3.2 A loudspeaker converts electrical energy into sound.


(a) A cut-away section showing the parts of the
loudspeaker and (b) a simplified cross section showing
the direction of the magnetic field

direction of the force


on the positive particle

rule for a current

you can see that a force will be exerted upwards on


the voice coil on this side. This force is exerted in the
same direction around the circumference of the voice
coil and causes the speaker cone to move upwards.
So we can see that now we know about the motor
effect and the right-hand palm rule we can explain
how some everyday things work.
a

B
C

direction of force
on the voice coil

A cardboard cone

B cardboard tube fixed


to cardboard cone and
wrapped in voice coil
C wire coil (called the
voice coil)
D permanent cylindrical
magnet

91

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields

Quantifying the motor effect


If we place a current-carrying wire within a magnetic field (see Figure 4.3.3) the
force on the conductor is given by:
Solve problems and analyse
information about the force on
current-carrying conductors in
magnetic fields using:
F = BIlsin

F = BIlsin
where F is magnitude of the force on the wire in newtons (N), l represents the
length of the wire inside the magnetic field in metres (m), I is the size of the
current in amps (A), B is the strength of the magnetic field in tesla (T) and is
the acute angle between the magnetic field and the wire.
Note that you can rearrange this equation and make any of the variables the
subject to find their values.

Worked example
Question
If the wire in Figure 4.3.3 has a length of 5 cm within a 0.2 T magnetic field, the wire is at
30 to the field and it contains a current of 0.5 A, what is the force exerted on the wire?

I
B
l

SOLUTION

First we convert the length of the wire into the appropriate units: 5cm = 5/100 = 0.05 m

sin =

Figure 4.3.3

a
l

a = l sin

Then substitute:

F = BIlsin

= 0.2 0.5 0.05 sin30

= 2.5 103 N out of the page

Qualitative analysis of factors affecting the motor effect


Discuss the effect on the
magnitude of the force on a
current-carrying conductor of
variations in:
the strength of the magnetic
field in which it is located
the magnitude of the current
in the conductor
the length of the conductor
in the external magnetic field
the angle between the
direction of the external
magnetic field and the
direction of the length of
the conductor.

92

If you have an equation that describes a relationship, the easiest way to see
how the variables affect the subject of the equation is to place some numbers in
the equation and see what happens.
Remembering that the motor effect is the force F that a current-carrying
conductor experiences in a magnetic field, lets look at how the other variables in
the equation affect the magnitude of F. As you read through this section keep
referring back to the equation and check that you come to the same conclusions.

Magnetic field strength, B


If the value of B was very small, then the right side of the equation would be
multiplied by a very small number. Conversely, if the value of B was very large,
the right side of the equation would be multiplied by a very large number. Since
the magnitude of the force F is equal to the right-hand side of the equation,
F is clearly directly related to B.
To take our analysis one step further, consider multiplying the value of B by 2.
Looking at the equation, we see that if we do this, the effect on the value of F is
We can now say the force F is directly
the same as multiplying F by 2.
proportional to magnetic field strength B; that is, as B increases by some factor
(say 2 times) F also increases by that same factor.
Having understood the analysis above, it should be easy now to see the
following relationships.

motors and
generators
Current, I
As for magnetic field strength, by inspecting the formula we can see
that force F will be directly proportional to current I.
Length, l
Similarly, F is directly proportional to the length l of the currentcarrying conductor within the magnetic field. Be particularly careful to
remember that l is the total length of the wire within the magnetic field.
It is noteworthy that l is regarded as a vector, but current I is not.
Angle,
When the wire is parallel to the magnetic field, the angle is zero. Inspecting
Figure 4.3.4 you can see that if is zero degrees then sin is also zero. When
you substitute zero for sin in the motor effect equation, you see that the
This shows us the interesting situation that the force
force must be zero.
on a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field is zero when the
conductor is parallel to the magnetic field lines.
When the current-carrying conductor is perpendicular to the magnetic
field, is 90. From Figure 4.3.4 you can see that sin90 is 1. Since 1 is the
maximum value for sin, when we substitute 1 into the equation the force F
will be the maximum value it can be for each set of the other variables.
This shows that the force F is a maximum value when a current-carrying
conductor is perpendicular to the magnetic field B.
Inspecting Figure 4.3.4 you can see that as increases from 0 to 90 the
value of sin increases towards a value of 1. The rate of this increase is not
So we can only say that
constant (i.e. the graph is not a straight line).
force F depends on , as it is not directly proportional to .

Nanotube
Loudspeakers:
No Magnets

group of Chinese researchers has


developed a loudspeaker that
consists only of a thin film of carbon
nanotubes driven by an AC input
signal. The sound generation is
attributed to a thermoacoustic effect.
Changes in the current flowing
through the film are reflected in the
films temperature. Those temperature
changes excite pressure waves in the
surrounding air and these are sound
waves. The film is flexible and can be
stretched and still operate unimpeded.
Perhaps loudspeakers wont have
magnets in the near future!

sin
1

90

180

270

360

Checkpoint 4.3
1 Describe the relative directions of the force, the current and the
magnetic field when a current-carrying wire experiences the
maximum possible force due to the motor effect.
2 Compare the relationships of B, I, l and to F in the equation
F = BIlsin.
3 Explain the motor effect.

Figure 4.3.4 Graph of


versus sin

4.4 Forces between parallel wires


In many applications of electric circuits there are wires bundled tightly together
and running parallel to each other. If we want to explore the interaction of
these wires, we need to bring together two of the facts we have learned so far.
The first is that current-carrying conductors produce a magnetic field.
The second is that a current-carrying conductor experiences a force when inside
a magnetic field. We will also need to apply two of the right-hand rules we have
learned to determine the direction of the magnetic fields and the forces.
93

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields

Qualitative analysis

Try This!
the motor effect
Take a piece of insulated wire
about 510 metres long.
Stretch it out between two
retort stands so that there are
two pieces of wire running
parallel within a few
centimetres of each other.
Connect the ends to a 12 V
battery and insert a tapping
key switch at one end of the
circuit. When connected
briefly, the currents will run
antiparallel to each other.
Caution: Connect these wires
for a very short time only, as
they carry a large current.
Predict what will happen when
you press the switch. Now
observe! How did you go?

Let us first consider the situation in which we have two parallel current-carrying
wires with currents that are travelling in the same direction.
In Figure 4.4.1a we use the right-hand grip rule to determine the direction of
the magnetic fields around the wires. Now, to understand what is happening to
each wire, we will consider what is happening to one wire at a time.
In Figure 4.4.1b we are looking at what is happening to wire 2. The magnetic
field generated by the current in wire 1 travels into the page around wire 2.
Using the right-hand palm rule, we can see that wire 2 experiences a force
towards wire 1.
In Figure 4.4.1c we now see what is happening to wire 1. The magnetic field
of wire 2 comes out of the page around wire 1. Therefore the right-hand palm
rule shows that wire 1 experiences a force towards wire 2.
The conclusion we can come to is that when two parallel currentcarrying conductors have currents travelling in the same direction, the two
conductors are forced towards each other.

II
F
=k 12
l
d

94

I2

F1

wire 1

wire 2

magnetic fields
around parallel wires

Describe qualitatively and


quantitatively the force
between long parallel currentcarrying conductors:

I1

wire 1

wire 2

magnetic field
due to I1

I1

I2

F2

wire 1

wire 2

magnetic field
due to I2

Figure 4.4.1 Determining the forces on two parallel wires


with currents flowing in the same direction

Now lets consider the two parallel current-carrying wires with currents that
are travelling in opposite directions.
In Figure 4.4.2a the right-hand grip rule shows us the direction of the
magnetic fields around the wires. To understand what is happening to each wire,
we will again consider each wire in turn.
Lets look at what is happening to wire 2 first (Figure 4.4.2b). The right-hand
grip rule shows the magnetic field of wire 1. This field travels into the page
around wire 2. The right-hand palm rule shows that wire 2 experiences a force
away from wire 1.
Figure 4.4.2c shows what is happening to wire 1. The magnetic field of wire 2
goes into the page around wire 1. The right-hand palm rule then shows that
wire 1 experiences a force away from wire 2.
The conclusion we can now come to is that when two parallel currentcarrying conductors have currents travelling in the opposite direction, the two
conductors are forced away from each other.
It may be easy for you to remember the two conclusions above about the
direction of forces on parallel wires, although remembering the result is generally
less important than knowing how you got there. If you forget the conclusions

motors and
generators
a

wire 1

I1

wire 2

wire 1

magnetic fields
around antiparallel wires

I2

wire 2

magnetic field
due to I1

I1

I2

wire 1

wire 2

magnetic field
due to I2

above and you know how to work them out yourself you can never get them
wrong. You will apply similar methods in other problems later in this module.
So if you are comfortable with these methods now, it will be easier later. If at any
time you have trouble using your right-hand rules, come back to the relevant part
of this chapter and revise. You will meet the skills you have used here several more
times yet and each occasion is a chance to test your knowledge.

Figure 4.4.2 Determining the forces on two


current-carrying wires with
currents in opposite directions

Quantifying the relationship


Using our right-hand rules, we have determined that parallel wires exert forces on
each other. To quantify these forces, lets start with an equation we have seen
already. Recall the equation for the force on a current-carrying conductor:
F = BIlsin
For parallel wires, each wire is at right angles to the magnetic field of the other
wire. The sin term in the above equation is therefore equal to 1 (see Figure 4.3.4)
so the equation becomes:
F = BIl
Inspecting this formula we can see that the current I and length l can be
measured relatively easily. To work out F, the size of the force, we now need to
calculate B, the strength of the magnetic field around the wire.
The strength of the magnetic field around a current-carrying conductor
can be determined using the equation:
I
B=k
d
where the proportionality constant k is 2 107 NA2, I is the current in amps,
and d is the distance away from the wire in metres.
Lets consider the situation in Figure 4.4.1b. The magnetic field is being
produced by wire 1, so the current I1 will be used in calculating the magnetic
field strength. The force we are calculating is acting on wire 2, so the current we
should use in this part of the calculation is I2. Combining the two previous
equations and inserting the correct currents in each we get:
F =k

Rearranging this gives:

I1
I l
d 2

II
F
=k 1 2
l
d

where F is the force on each wire in newtons and l is the length the wires are
parallel in metres, so F/l is the force on each metre of wire. k is the proportionality
constant 2 107 NA2, I1 and I2 are the currents in the two wires in amps, and
d is the distance between the two wires in metres.
95

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields
1.5 A

1.0 A

Worked example
QUESTION
For the situation shown in Figure 4.4.3 calculate the magnitude of the force acting on
each wire.

0.5 m

SOLUTION
2 cm

Figure 4.4.3 Two parallel current-carrying


wires

Feeling
the pinch

he piece of copper
pipe shown in
Figure 4.4.4 was
crushed by lightning.
Just like two parallel
wires carrying currents
in the same direction,
the sides of this pipe
were pulled together
when a current of more
than 100000 amps
was present.

Figure 4.4.4
Dramatic evidence of
parallel conductors
experiencing a force

From Figure 4.4.3, l = 0.5m, l1 = 1.5A, l2 = 1.0A and d = 2/100 = 0.02m.


II
F
Use:
=k 1 2
l
d
I1 I 2
l
Rearrange to make F the subject: F = k
d
Substitute:

F=

2 107 1.5 1.0


0.5
0.02

= 7.5 106 N

Note that as this question asked for only the magnitude of the force, you do not have to
include a description of the direction. If asked, you should add that the force on each wire is
directed towards the other wire.

More qualitative analysis


Our last stop in our look at parallel wires is to analyse the relationships expressed
in the equation:
II
F
=k 1 2
l
d
If we follow the process we used in section 4.3, we can see the following
relationships:
F is directly proportional to the length l. To see this easily we rearrange the
formula to make F the subject. As l increases F increases.
F is also proportional to both I1 and I2.
F is inversely proportional to the distance d between the two wires. This
means that as the distance increases F decreases, or as the distance decreases
F increases.

Checkpoint 4.4
1 Identify the two key facts that explain the interactions of two parallel current-carrying conductors.
2 Describe the interactions of two parallel current-carrying conductors.

96

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

motors and
generators

CHAPTER 4
This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 4.1: The motor effect


Observe the effect of a current-carrying wire that is placed in an external magnetic
field and relate it to the mathematical formula:

F = BIlsin
Equipment: 2 strong horseshoe magnets or ceramic magnets on an iron yoke,
long wire, power supply, retort stand, clamp.

hanging from
a retort stand

Perform a first-hand
investigation to demonstrate
the motor effect.
Solve problems and analyse
information about the force on
current-carrying conductors in
magnetic fields using:
F = BIlsin

flexible wire

ceramic magnets
on an iron yoke

low voltage DC
power supply

Figure 4.5.1 Experiment set-up

Discussion questions
1 Describe the motor effect.
2 Discuss what happened when the current direction was changed.

97

Chapter summary

Electrodynamics:
moving charges
and magnetic fields

Current is the rate of flow of charge through a region,


and in circuits the direction of a current is that of a
positive charge, called conventional current.
A current in which the charges only flow in one
direction is called direct current (DC). A current in
which the charges move back and forth is an alternating
current (AC).
Resistance is a measure of how easily a current flows and
it is defined as the ratio of voltage over current.
Electrical power is the rate at which energy is transferred
within a circuit component.
Electric currents produce a magnetic field around a
wire. The direction of this field can be determined by
the right-hand grip rule.
A magnetic field is depicted by lines with an arrow
indicating the direction in which the north pole of a
magnet points within the field.
The symbols and are used to show the direction of
a magnetic field into and out of the page respectively.

The symbols and are used to show the direction


of a current into and out of the page respectively.
Charged particles moving in a magnetic field experience
a force. When these charges are moving in a wire, the
wire experiences a force called the motor effect.
The right-hand palm rule relates the perpendicular
directions of force, magnetic field and motion in the
motor effect.
A loudspeaker is a great example of an application of the
motor effect.
The motor effect is quantified by the equation
F = BIlsin where the force is proportional to the
magnetic field strength (B), current (I), length of the
wire within the magnetic field (l) and the angle between
the wire and the magnetic field ().
Parallel current-carrying wires experience the motor
effect due to each others magnetic fields and this
II
F
phenomenon is quantified by the equation = k 1 2 .
l
d

Review questions
Physically speaking
1

Across
4 Equation to determine the force between
two current-carrying wires (7, 3)

2
4

3
5

7 emf stands for this (13, 5)


9 Application of the motor effect that
converts electrical energy to sound
10 Quantity related to the energy given
to electrons in a circuit

6
8

11 Force experienced by current-carrying


wire in an external magnetic field (5, 6)

Down
1 Electrons moving in one direction (6, 7)
2 Unit of power

10

11

98

3 The branch of electricity that deals with


moving charges and magnetic fields
5 Rate of use of electrical energy
6 Opposition to the flow of electrons
8 Device that converts electrical energy
to kinetic energy using the motor effect

motors and
generators

Reviewing
1
2

Describe the difference between DC and AC.

Explain why a bird can sit on an electrical power cable


and not get electrocuted.

Describe what is meant by metals having a sea of


electrons.

a Recall the factors that affect the resistance of


a wire.
b State how they affect it.

Given that the definition of power is P = W/t, show


that the equation for electrical power is P = VI.

Describe what happens to a charged particle in


a magnetic field.

Compare the paths of two charged particles entering


magnetic fields. The first is in a constant magnetic
field and the second is in a magnetic field that is
gradually increased.

16 Determine the direction the particle will move when it


enters the magnetic field that is shown.
a

Outline the journey of an electron through the circuit


in Figure 4.1.1, noting the energy transformation.

9 State the motor effect in words.


10 Sketch a graph to show how changing the angle
of the wire in a magnetic field changes the force
experienced.

11 Explain how current can create sound in


a loudspeaker.

12 Draw a labelled energy transformation diagram


of a loudspeaker.

+
b

17 Determine the force on a current-carrying wire


(I =2A) of length 0.5m that is placed in a magnetic
field of 3T.

18 A physics student did an experiment to measure


the force on a wire placed in an external magnetic
field. The field is altered and the results are
recorded below.

Force (N)

Magnetic field (T)

0.05
0.08
0.11
0.17

0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4

a Graph the results.


b Determine the value of the gradient of the graph
and what the gradient represents.
c Given that the length of the wire is l = 0.2m and
the current is I = 2A, comment on the accuracy
of the students results.

solving Problems
13 Calculate the resistance in a circuit that has a battery
supplying 10V and current flow of 2.3A.

14 Determine what happens to current in a circuit when


the thickness of the wire is doubled and the voltage is
increased to four times the original.

15 Using the right-hand palm rule, determine the


direction of the unknown quantity B, I or F.
a

iew

Q uesti o

Re

99

5
electromagnetic induction,
Faradays law, magnetic flux,
magnetic field strength B, magnetic flux
density, emf, perpendicular area, Lenzs
law, law of conservation of energy, eddy
currents, induction cooktops, resistive
heating, eddy current braking

Induction:
the influence
of changing
magnetism
Electromagnetic induction
The discovery of electromagnetic induction was a giant step on the path
to modern technology. Our understanding of this phenomenon required
a great deal of new physics and involved the work of many individuals.
One man, Michael Faraday, led the way with his experimental genius
and intuitive diagrammatic reasoning.
Faraday lacked the mathematical skills to numerically describe his
discoveries, but James Clerk Maxwell took Faradays understanding and
eventually quantified all electromagnetism. Faradays law and Lenzs
law provide us with the tools to explain and predict
eddy currents and to understand their applications.
Later they will help us in our quest to uncover the
secrets of motors, generators and transformers.

5.1 Michael Faraday discovers


electromagnetic induction

Outline Michael Faradays


discovery of the generation
of an electric current by a
moving magnet.

100

Michael Faraday (17911867) was born into a working-class family in London


in 1791. He received little formal schooling and started work at the age of 12.
At 14 he became a bookbinders apprentice and set about educating himself with
the books he was able to access. Over this time he developed a keen interest in
science and began attending scientific lectures. In 1813 he became a research
assistant for the prominent scientist Sir Humphry Davy (17881829). In the
following years Faraday became renowned as one of the greatest experimental
scientists.
One of his numerous experimental discoveries was the phenomenon of
Electromagnetic induction is the
electromagnetic induction in 1831.
generation of an electric current by a changing magnetic field. Faraday showed
that when he moved a magnet near a wire coil, a current flowed within the coil.
He first moved a magnet into one end of a wire coil (Figure 5.1.1a). As he did
this he measured a current in the coil on a galvanometer (a type of ammeter).

motors and
generators
He noticed that this current was only induced while the magnet was moving.
He moved the magnet out of the coil, and this time he measured a current in
Following many
the opposite direction within the coil (Figure 5.1.1b).
other experiments, he put forward his general principle of electromagnetic
induction that a changing magnetic field can cause a current to be generated in
a wire. This change can be caused by either the relative motion of the field and
the coil or by a change in the strength of the magnetic field.
In light of Faradays conclusion, lets offer a simple way to understand his
observations. In Figure 5.1.1 we can consider the change in the magnetic field
through the coil to be represented by the number of magnetic field lines passing
within the coil. In Figure 5.1.1a, notice that the magnetic field around the bar
magnet is not uniform. You see that as you get closer to the poles of the magnet
the magnetic field lines get closer together, indicating that the field is stronger.
Therefore, as the magnet gets closer to the coil more field lines pass within the
coil, indicating that the magnetic field within the coil gets stronger. So, as the
magnet gets closer to the coil the strength of the field within the coil is changing
and this induces the current. This gives us a general explanation for
electromagnetic induction. Now lets take things a bit further.

Faradays law: explaining electromagnetic induction


Electromagnetic induction can be summarised by Faradays law.
The induced emf in a coil is proportional to the product of the number
of turns and the rate at which the magnetic field changes within the turns.
Faradays law is quantified by an equation, and it is very useful to analyse the
equation to understand the relationships involved. This equation is:
= n(B/t)
Let us spend a little time now looking at what each of the variables in this
equation means and then we can understand the relationships.

Magnetic flux B
Magnetic flux is a measure of the amount of magnetic field passing
through a given area. There are two variables that determine the value of
magnetic flux: the strength of the magnetic field B and the area the field is
passing through A. Magnetic flux B is measured in weber (Wb) and can be
expressed by the equation:
B = BA
Magnetic field strength B, a quantity we are already familiar with,
is also called magnetic flux density. This quantity is measured in tesla (T), or
equivalently in webers per square metre (Wb m2). This is a measure of the field
strength per square metre.
A is an area that is perpendicular to the magnetic field lines. If a magnetic
field passes through a circular wire loop of area A (Figure 5.1.2a) and the loop is
at an angle to the field (see Figure 5.1.2b), then the field passes through an
effective area A that is perpendicular to the field and is smaller than area A (see
Figure 5.1.2c). Note that flux could also be calculated using the perpendicular
component of the magnetic field strength, B, and the total area A.

a
N

A
b
N

Figure 5.1.1 The changing magnetic field of


a moving magnet can induce a
current in a coil of wire.

Our suns
magnetic
influence

arge outbursts from the Sun cause


changes in the strength of the
magnetic field at the Earths surface.
This changing magnetic field induces
currents in long metal pipelines and the
wires of power grids, especially at high
latitudes. Currents of 1000 amps have
been measured in pipelines in Alaska,
causing accelerated corrosion. Large
currents in power grids have overloaded
circuits and left millions of people in
the dark for hours.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 5.1

Activity Manual, Page


33

Perform an investigation to model


the generation of an electric
current by moving a magnet in
a coil or a coil near a magnet.
Define magnetic field strength B
as magnetic flux density.
Describe the concept of magnetic
flux in terms of magnetic flux
density and surface area.

101

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism
This line is the perpendicular
height of area A.
B
A

Figure 5.1.2 (a) A circular coil of area A. (b) A side view of the coil at an angle to the magnetic
field. (c) The effective area of the coil perpendicular to the magnetic field viewed
from point P (b)

The product of the magnetic flux density B and the area A gives a
measure of the total amount of magnetic field passing through that area. This
is the magnetic flux B.
The delta () symbols in Faradays law mean a change in some quantity. So
the two terms with delta symbols attached are differences between an initial
value and a final value. The term B stands for the change in the magnetic
flux and is given by:
B = B final B initial
The t term represents a period of time. This is the period of time over
which the change in flux B is measured.
We can see that the B/t term in Faradays law is actually the rate
of change of magnetic flux, just as acceleration is the rate of change of velocity
(aav=v/t). The term B/t tells us how fast the flux is changing.

emf
The symbol stands for emf, measured in volts. It is the difference in electrical
potential between the two ends of a coil (X and Y in Figure 5.1.3).
This emf creates an electric field within the wire of the coil and a current is
established, provided the circuit is complete (X and Y are not connected in
Figure 5.1.3). A current will flow as long as there is a change in the magnetic
field within the coil.
Qualitative analysis of Faradays law
Lets now look at the relationship between emf and the other terms in the
equation. Recall that the equation for Faradays law is:
= n(B/t)

B
N

X Y

Figure 5.1.3 A moveable magnet passes


through a stationary coil with
terminals X and Y.
102

The emf is proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic flux (B/t).
If there is a large change in flux in a small amount of time, then B/t is
large; therefore, the emf produced will be large. This emf is responsible for the
induced current in a closed loop of wire. If the emf is large, then so is the
induced current. Another way of saying this is that if we wanted to induce a
large current, we would change the magnetic field within the coil as much as
possible in the shortest time possible. To do this in the example we have seen,
we could move the magnet more quickly, use a stronger magnet or make the
perpendicular area as large as possible for the coil.
The emf is also proportional to n, the number of turns in the coil. Again, if
we wanted to create a large current we would want to have as many turns in the
coil as possible.

motors and
generators
By inspecting all the variables in Faradays law we can conclude that
an induced potential difference, and therefore an induced current in a coil,
is proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux (B/t) and the
number of turns (n) within the coil. Further, we can conclude that induced
currents are produced by changing the magnetic field strength B, the relative
motion between B and the area A, or changing the perpendicular area A of
the coil.
Our next challenge is to find the direction of an induced current, and for
that we need Lenzs law. We will cover this in section 5.2.

Try this!
skipping currents

ake a length of wire about


3040 metres long and
connect the ends to a sensitive
ammeter. Lay the wire out in
a large open space and swing it
like a skipping rope. Can you
induce a current by changing the
size of the loop and using the
Earths magnetic field? Can you
explain why this should work?

Induction without relative motion


Now that we have a basic understanding of electromagnetic induction, we will
look at another example.
In one of his early experiments Faraday wound two coils of wire around an
iron ring (Figure 5.1.4). He noticed that a current was induced in coil B for a
short time after the current in coil A was switched on or off. To explain this
induced current, recall that a current travelling through a wire produces a
magnetic field around the wire. We can then follow similar reasoning to that
in the different situation described earlier. The list of events below explains
why Faraday observed induced currents for a short time after he connected or
disconnected coil A. The steps below are indicated in Figure 5.1.5, which
shows the currents in both coils and the magnetic field produced in coil A.
1 Coil A is connected by closing the switch and a current begins to flow.
2 The current in coil A produces a magnetic field around the iron ring
(see Figure 4.1.9). This field gets stronger as the current increases to
its maximum value. The changing magnetic flux from coil A causes
a changing magnetic flux in coil B, which induces an emf and
therefore a current in coil B. The rate of change of magnetic flux
power
in coil B is positive, rapid at first but then slows down (Figure
supply
5.1.5), so the induced current is positive, high at first but
decreases rapidly.
3 The current and magnetic field in coil A both reach their
maximum value. The rate of change of magnetic flux in coil B is
now zero, so the induced emf and current are also zero.
4 Coil A is disconnected by opening the switch. The current in coil A
decreases rapidly, but does not stop immediately because there is
normally a brief spark in the switch that allows current to continue
flowing briefly.
5 The current in coil A, and therefore the magnetic field it produces,
rapidly decreases. The changing magnetic flux from coil A causes a
changing magnetic flux in coil B that, in turn, induces an emf and
therefore a current. The rate of change of magnetic flux in coil B is
negative, initially high but rapidly decreases. Therefore, the induced
current is negative, high at first but decreases rapidly to zero.
The example above illustrates our previous conclusions that it is the
change in the magnetic field (more precisely, the changing magnetic flux)
passing through a wire coil that induces a current, and the induced current is
proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux. Now we can see that the
direction of the induced current is determined by whether the magnetic flux
is increasing or decreasing.

Describe generated potential


difference as the rate of
change of magnetic flux
through a circuit.
layers of copper coil
interwound with
cotton and calico

soft
iron
ring

switch

coil B
coil A

Figure 5.1.4 Basic set-up of Faradays experiment

IA

BA

IB
2
1

5
4

Figure 5.1.5 The behaviour of currents and


magnetic fields in Faradays
iron ring experiment
103

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism

Checkpoint 5.1
1 Outline Faradays discovery of induction by a moving magnet and summarise his conclusion.
2 Define magnetic flux in terms of magnetic flux density.
3 Using the term magnetic flux, explain why removing a magnet quickly from a coil induces a relatively large current.

5.2 Lenzs law


Heinrich Lenz (18041865) independently made many of the same discoveries
as Faraday. He also devised a way to predict the direction of an induced current
This method
in a closed conducting loop due to a changing magnetic field.
is called Lenzs law and it states that an induced current in a closed conducting
loop will appear in such a direction that it opposes the change that produced it.
This means that the induced magnetic field from a wire loop will oppose the
change in magnetic flux that causes the induced current. Let us look at the
example shown in Figure 5.2.1 to understand this better.
a

direction of
movement

direction of
movement

S
N
N

Figure 5.2.1 (a) Bar magnet moves towards a wire loop.


(b) The magnetic field due to the induced current

As the north pole of the magnet gets closer to the wire loop in Figure 5.2.1a,
the magnetic flux passing through the coil increases. This change in flux induces
a current in the wire loop. Now lets find the direction of the current to agree
with Lenzs law.
The north pole of the magnet is coming towards the coil, so the magnetic
flux pointing downwards through the coil is increasing. Lenzs law says that the
magnetic field produced by the induced current should oppose this change in
flux, so the induced flux should point upwards through the coil. Using the
right-hand grip rule for a wire coil or solenoid, we see that the current would
need to flow in the direction shown in Figure 5.2.1b, to produce an upwardspointing magnetic field within the loop. This field is pointing in the opposite
direction to the changing magnetic flux, so it reduces the changing magnetic flux
from the approaching magnet. Simply, you can think of the interaction of these
two magnetic fields as if the north poles of two bar magnets are facing each
other. The two north poles repel each other, and in this way the induced field
acts to minimise the increasing magnetic flux within the coil.
104

motors and
generators
Now, lets look at what would happen when you move a magnet away from
the loop with its north pole facing the loop (Figure 5.2.2).
In this case the magnetic flux in the coil is decreasing and pointing
downwards. The induced magnetic field should therefore be also pointing
downwards to add to the reducing field and try to minimise the change. Using
the right-hand grip rule, we see that we need a current as shown to produce a
downwards-pointing induced magnetic field. Again, you can think of the
interaction of these two magnetic fields as the interaction of two magnets in
which a north pole is facing a south pole. The two ends of the magnets are
attracted to one another and in this way the induced field acts to add to the
decreasing flux within the coil. These examples leave us with Lenzs law as
a tool to determine the direction of an induced current in a wire coil due to
a changing magnetic flux.

The law behind Lenzs law: the law of conservation


of energy
While we were learning about Lenzs law you may have wondered why the
current needs to produce a magnetic field to oppose the change in flux? Well the
This law states that
answer lies in the law of conservation of energy.
energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another.
In the case of Lenzs law, it is the fact that energy cannot be created that is
important.
If the induced current in Figure 5.2.1 was in a direction that added to the
changing flux through the coil there would be an attractive force on the magnet.
This would mean that the magnets motion would cause it to be pulled through
the coil. The amount of energy you could get from the induced current (heat
from electrical resistance) and the induced magnetic field would be much more
than that put in initially to move the magnet and change the flux through the
coil. This would mean you would be getting something (energy) for free
(without doing any work), which is not possible.
Energy must be ultimately converted from the work done to move the
magnet into heat energy from the electrical resistance within the wire coil.
There must be a balance between the energy that goes into a system and
the energy that comes out. So, whether you push the magnet towards the loop
or pull it away from the loop, you will always experience a force that resists the
motion. This force is an attraction or a repulsion between the magnetic fields
of the magnet and the wire loop.
So far in this chapter we have explained the cause of magnetic induction
using Faradays law, used Lenzs law to find the direction of an induced current,
and the right-hand grip rule to find the direction of this currents magnetic field.
Keep these ideas in mind, as we will apply them in the next two chapters.

direction of
movement

S
N

Figure 5.2.2 Induced current due to a


decreasing magnetic field in
accordance with Lenzs law

Account for Lenzs law in terms


of conservation of energy and
relate it to the production of
back emf in motors.

Checkpoint 5.2
1
2
3

Define Lenzs law.


Describe the induced current and magnetic field in Figure 5.2.2 if the south pole of the permanent magnet is
pointing towards the wire coil.
Justify the current and magnetic field shown in Figure 5.2.1b in terms of the law of conservation of energy.

105

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism

5.3 Eddy currents


Explain the production of eddy
currents in terms of Lenzs Law.

We have seen that charges moving in a magnetic field experience a force in


accordance with the right-hand palm rule (sections 4.2 and 4.3). This effect
occurs for free charges and charges within conductors. When a current-carrying
wire experiences a force within an external magnetic field, we call this the motor
effect. When charges within a wire experience a force within a changing
magnetic field, inducing a current, we call this electromagnetic induction.
Many conductors that experience a changing magnetic field and produce an
induced current are much larger than a wire. We call these induced currents
eddy currents.
Eddy currents can be produced by the relative motion of a conductor
and a magnetic field. These eddy currents are small loops of current within the
conductor. They are the same as induced currents in wires subjected to changing
magnetic flux, except that the currents are not confined to a loop of wire. These
currents are set up in accordance with Lenzs law and produce magnetic fields
that act to minimise the change in magnetic flux within the path of the current.
Figure 5.3.1 shows a square piece of copper sheet swinging like a pendulum
through a magnetic field. When this piece of metal moves through the magnetic
field, we notice that there is a braking effect, slowing its swing. After a few
swings it comes to rest. It stops much more quickly than it does when we remove
the magnetic field. To explain this situation we can use the right-hand rules or
approach the problem in terms of Lenzs law. When we use Lenzs law, we use the
right-hand grip rule for solenoids or coils to predict the direction of magnetic
fields and eddy currents.
As the copper square swings into the magnetic field on the left of Figure
5.3.1 lets consider what happens to a positive charge (as shown) on the leading
edge of the square. If this positive charge was within a piece of wire it would
experience a force F1 upwards as shown. If this was a square loop of wire, this
force would generate a conventional current moving anticlockwise around the
loop. As this charge is not confined to a wire, the charge moves upwards initially
and then loops around to form a complete circuit (an eddy current). Using the
right-hand grip rule, we can see that the eddy current (I1) shown would produce

direction of swing

I1

F2 causing
braking effect

F1

F3

I2

+
F4 causing
braking effect

Figure 5.3.1 A square metal sheet is swung through a uniform magnetic field between two bar
magnets. A braking effect is observed due to induced currents and their magnetic
fields, in accordance with Lenzs law.

106

motors and
generators
a magnetic field out of the page (indicated by the N for the north pole of the
currents magnetic field). The flow of positive charges in the direction of F1 is a
current. This current experiences a force due to the uniform magnetic field. This
force F2 opposes the motion of the copper, acting as a braking effect.
As the copper square leaves the magnetic field (on the right in Figure 5.3.1)
Lenzs law tells us that the eddy current should produce a force to slow the squares
departure from the field. The positive charge shown experiences a force F3
upwards, as shown. This causes a flow of positive charges in the direction of F3.
This current experiences a force due to the uniform magnetic field. This force F4
opposes the motion of the metal sheet, again acting as a braking effect.
If you have access to the equipment that demonstrates the situation in Figure
5.3.1, then try observing it for yourself. You may also be able to observe the
effect of cutting slots through the piece of metal swinging in the field. The slots
limit the size of the eddy currents that can be produced and therefore the size of
the induced magnetic fields, and the braking effect is considerably less. We will
meet this idea of reducing the size of eddy currents again in chapters 6 and 7.

Try this!
Racing magnets
Find two identical magnets. Get a piece of copper or aluminium sheet
and a sheet of a non-metal, such as glass, with a surface similar in
smoothness to the surface of the metal. Place the two sheets at the
same angle (say 60) to the table surface and place the magnets at the
same height on each sheet (see Figure 5.3.2). Now predict which
magnet is going to win the race and why. Now race! Did everyone agree?
Explain your observations to a friend.
aluminium or
copper

glass

60

Figure 5.3.2 Which magnet will win?

107

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism

PHYSICS FEATURE

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 5.2

Gather, analyse and present information to explain


how induction is used in cooktops in electric ranges.

Activity Manual, Page


39

Induction cooking

nduction cooktops are a great example of a growing


application of eddy currents. The main appeal of
induction cooking is its efficiency and fast heating.
Heat is not transferred to the pan from a hot plate or
flame in induction cooking. The heat is generated
within the pan itself and then flows into the food
being cooked. This means that minimal heat is lost to
the air before reaching the food, making this much
more efficient than other cooking methods.
The operation of an induction cooktop is illustrated
in Figure 5.3.3. A rapidly changing strong magnetic
field is generated in a large wire coil, using an
alternating current. Both the intensity and direction of
this field change continuously over very short periods
of time. The resulting rapidly changing magnetic flux
within the base of the frying pan induces strong eddy
currents, causing resistive heating.
Resistive heating by eddy currents occurs when the
charges flowing within the metal collide with the ions
in the metal lattice. Kinetic energy is transferred to
the metal ions as vibrations, and this increases
the temperature of the metal. The amount of heat Q
produced by resistive heating is proportional to the
resistance of the material R and the square of the
current I, as shown by Joules law:

Q = Pt = I2Rt
where Q is in joules, power P is in watts or joules
per second (Js1), I is in amps A, R is in ohms ()
and t is in seconds (s).

eddy currents
produced in
base of frypan
ceramic surface
coil supplied with
high frequency AC

AC

rapidly changing
magnetic field
B

Figure 5.3.3 The frypan on an induction cooktop up heats due


to eddy currents.

From Joules law we can see that a large current


and relatively high resistance would result in a large
amount of resistive heating. This explains why
specialised cookware is required to gain maximum
efficiency from induction cooking.
Another method of heat production within
induction cookware is a process called magnetic
hysteresis losses. When a magnetic field is applied to,
and then removed from, a magnetic material such as
iron, a permanent magnetic field remains within the
material. If a magnetic field is then introduced in the
opposite direction to this remnant field, some energy
is expended reducing the remnant field to zero before
the field can build in the other direction. Energy is
dissipated in this process as heat in the material and
therefore also raises the temperature.

Checkpoint 5.3
1
2

108

Explain the formation of eddy currents in a small, flat, square metal sheet that falls between the poles of a magnet.
Describe how Lenzs law can be used to predict the formation of eddy currents.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

motors and
generators

CHAPTER 5

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 5.1: Generating electric current


Using the equipment listed, write up an investigation that will allow you to
generate alternating current. Once you have produced alternating current,
investigate how changing the distance between a coil and a magnet, the strength of
the magnet and the relative motion between the coil and the magnet will affect the
electric current produced.
Equipment: coil of wire (transformer coil), galvanometer, magnet (either
electromagnet or a series of permanent magnets).
Discussion questions
1 Describe the relationship between the distance between the coil and the
magnet and the electric current produced.
2 Determine how the strength of the magnet affects the current produced.
3 What effect does making the magnet move instead of the coil and vice
versa have on the current produced?

Activity 5.2: Making use of Eddy currents


Research induction cooktops and check to see if advertised claims about their
efficiency are true. Look at the use of eddy currents in braking. What forms of
transport use it and where could it be applied?
Discussion questions
1 Explain why AC and not DC must be used for an induction cooktop to
work.
2 Discuss the efficiency claims of induction cooktops in comparison to
traditional cooktops.
3 List the advantages and disadvantages of eddy current braking. (Hint: See
Physics Focus on page 112.)

Perform an investigation to
model the generation of an
electric current by moving a
magnet in a coil or a coil near
a magnet.
Plan, choose equipment or
resources for, and perform a
first-hand investigation to
predict and verify the effect on
a generated electric current
when:
the distance between the coil
and magnet is varied
the strength of the magnet
is varied
the relative motion between
the coil and the magnet is
varied.
Plan, choose equipment or
resources for, and perform a
first-hand investigation to
demonstrate the production
of an alternating current.
Gather, analyse and present
information to explain how
induction is used in cooktops
in electric ranges.
Gather secondary information
to identify how eddy currents
have been utilised in
electromagnetic braking.

109

Chapter summary

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism

Michael Faraday discovered that a current can be


generated by a changing magnetic field when moving
a magnet within a wire coil.
Magnetic field strength B in tesla (T) is equivalent to
magnetic flux density in webers per square metre
(Wbm2).
Magnetic flux B is a measure of the magnetic field
passing through a certain area. This is equal to the
magnetic flux density B multiplied by the perpendicular
area A through which the field is passing.
An emf produced in a coil is proportional to the rate
of change of magnetic flux and the number of turns in
the coil.

Induced currents are produced by changing the


magnetic flux due to relative motion, changing the flux
density or changing the perpendicular area.
Lenzs law and the right-hand grip rule can be used to
predict the direction of an induced current.
Lenzs law states that an induced current in a closed
conducting loop will appear in such a direction that it
opposes the change that produced it.
Lenzs law can be explained in terms of the law of
conservation of energy.
The production of eddy currents can be explained in
terms of Lenzs law.
Applications of eddy currents include induction
cooktops and eddy current braking.

Review questions
Physically speaking
The theme of this word search is induction.
There is a twist; there is no list provided, so
you have to work out the words that have been
included. Find the 10 hidden words that have to
do with induction, list them and write their
definitions.

110

W N

motors and
generators

Reviewing
1 Outline Faradays experiment that led to the discovery

11 A conductive wire is placed on rails of an electrical


circuit and forced to move to the right, as shown in
the diagram below.

of electromagnetic induction.

2 Recall the factors that affect the size of the induced

wire

emf that is created by induction.

bulb

3 Magnetic flux is a measure of the magnetic field


passing through a certain area. Use this statement to
explain how magnetic flux can be altered.

rails

4 Outline how emf can be used to produce current.


5 Describe the place of relative motion in inducing emf.
6 Explain how Lenzs law supports the law of

a Determine which is the positive and which is the


negative end of the wire.
b Determine the direction of the current in the
circuit.

conservation of energy.

7 Compare induced current in a wire and eddy currents.


8 Explain why a solid square piece of copper swinging
through a magnetic field will slow more quickly than
one with slits in it.

12 Explain how eddy currents can be a problem.


13 Give examples of how eddy currents can be of use.
14 Predict the direction of the eddy currents in the
following examples.
a

9 Compare and contrast the use of eddy currents in


induction cooktops and electromagnetic braking.
(You may need to refer to Physics Focus on
page 112.)

square metal sheet

Solving problems

rotating metal disc


15 Justify the claim that induction cooktops need

10 Using Lenzs law, predict the direction of current

special cookware.

in the following situations. Sketch these diagrams,


showing the induced currents.
a
c
S

expanding wire loop


Y

iew

Q uesti o

Re

111

Induction:
the influence of
changing magnetism

PHYSICS FOCUS
Eddy Currents Stop Me
in My Tracks

rakes are used in vehicles when it is necessary to


reduce speed quickly. When a vehicle brakes,
friction is usually used to convert kinetic energy into
heat. Typically this involves a brake pad made of a
heat-resistant material being forced against a metal
disc attached to a wheel. This leads to wear on brake
components and requires the ongoing cost of
replacement. Some high-speed trains and modern
roller-coasters now use eddy current braking. This
method requires no physical contact between brake
components and therefore no wear and tear.
Some roller-coasters use stationary magnets to
induce eddy currents in the moving roller-coaster.
High speed trains in Europe have electromagnets
fixed to the train, to induce eddy currents in the rails
beneath, as shown in Figure 5.4.1.

N
S

S
N

N
S

S
N

N
S

S
N

coils

N
S

S
N

top of rail

Figure 5.4.1 An eddy current brake in action


A series of current-carrying coils are suspended
a few millimetres above the top of the rail. Their
magnetic fields are produced with a polarity that is
in the opposite direction to the neighbouring coil
(Figure 5.4.1) by alternating the direction of the direct
current within the coil.

112

top of
stationary
rail

coil wound
around soft
iron core

location
of coil

+
I
rail

direction
of trains
motion

Figure 5.4.2 (a) Simplified diagram of eddy current braking system.


(b) Induced eddy currents in rail seen from above

The operation of these brakes is outlined in


Figure 5.4.2. A direct current is passed through the
coil, producing a magnetic field and the soft iron
core intensifies the field. These fields extend into the
iron rail and, as the train moves, the top of the rail
experiences a changing magnetic flux. In accordance
with Lenzs law, this changing flux is opposed
by the production of eddy currents and their
associated magnetic fields (see Figure 5.4.2b).
The braking effect is derived from the force that
each current experiences due to the magnetic field
of the other. For example, the eddy current in the rail
experiences a force due to the magnetic field of
the coil and an equal and opposite force is
experienced by the coil due to the magnetic field
of the eddy current.
The kinetic energy of the train is converted to
heat through resistive heating and magnetic
hysteresis losses. A graph of typical rail heating
is shown in Figure 5.4.3. The adoption of this
technology is not yet widespread, as there are
environmental and structural problems associated
with excessive rail heating. Use is limited to rail lines
with rails that can withstand the temperature
changes without affecting their performance.

Change in rail temperature (C)

motors and
generators

Extension

30

6 Research other methods of applying eddy currents


to braking and compare these methods to the one
outlined above.
7 The kinetic energy lost when braking can be
recycled by regenerative braking systems.
Research these systems and outline their operation.

25
20
15
10
5
0
0

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

Braking force (kN)

H4. Assesses the impacts of applications


of physics on society and the environment

Figure 5.4.3 Graph of rail heating


1 Identify and describe the function of eddy currents
in train eddy current brake systems.
2 Calculate the amount of kinetic energy Ek that
must be dissipated as heat to stop a train with a
mass m of 5 104 kg travelling at a velocity v of
300kmh1, using Ek = mv2. (Remember to
convert velocity to the appropriate units.)
3 If typical braking forces of 100 kN are applied,
identify the associated change in track
temperature.
4 Assess the environmental impact of an excessive
rise in rail temperature if eddy current braking was
used on a high speed train in Australia.
5 Identify further research that could be conducted
to allow the widespread adoption of train eddy
current brakes.

H5. Identifies possible future directions


of physics research

Gather secondary information to identify


how eddy currents have been utilised in
electromagnetic braking.

113

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around
The magic of motors

DC motors, coils, armature, rotor,


stator, electromagnets, torque,
commutatorsplitring, commutator
brushes, currentcarrying loop,
galvanometer, back emf, supply emf,
single-phase, three-phase,
AC induction motor, squirrelcage
rotor, shaded-pole induction motor

Much of the activity and infrastructure that makes our lives of


convenience possible is hidden from our view. Electric motors
contribute significantly to our modern existence but remain a
mystery. To most they are magical devices that convert electricity into
motion with the flick of a switch. What better way to appreciate our
comfortable lives than to understand one of the things that drives it.
This chapter will equip you to contemplate how one invention,
the electric motor, contributes to your quality of life in
the age of technology.

6.1 Direct current electric motors


Direct current (DC) motors transform electrical potential energy into rotational
kinetic energy. They can be powered by relatively lightweight batteries and are
therefore easily portable. The most common type of DC motor found in
battery-operated toys is shown in Figure 6.1.1.
These motors typically draw a current from
a number of batteries. This current flows
armature or rotor
commutator brushes
through a wire coil within an external
magnetic field. The coil experiences a force
we know as the motor effect, which causes the
motor to rotate.
The essential components that allow
a DC motor to operate are summarised in
Table 6.1.1.

stator
(curved magnets)

commutator contacts

coils

Figure 6.1.1 Parts of a simple DC motor


114

motors and
generators
Table 6.1.1 Parts of a DC motor
Part

Description and role

Coils

Many loops of wire that carry a direct current. These wires experience
a force (due to the motor effect) that causes the motor to turn when
current is flowing.
This is the part of a motor that contains the main current-carrying
coils or windings. For DC motors this is the rotor, but for AC motors it
is usually the stator.
In a DC motor, the rotor consists of coils of wire wound around
a laminated iron frame. The frame is attached to an axle or shaft that
allows it to rotate. The iron frame is laminated to reduce heating and
losses due to eddy currents. The iron itself acts to intensify the
magnetic field running through the coils.
Stationary permanent magnets (electromagnets in large DC motors)
that provide an external magnetic field around the coils. Permanent
magnets are curved to maximise the amount of time the sides of the
coil are travelling perpendicular to the magnetic field, to maintain
maximum torque.
A device with metal semicircular contacts that reverse the direction of
the current flowing in each coil at every half rotation. This reversal of
the current makes continuing rotation possible in a DC motor.
Conducting contacts (generally graphite or metal) that connect the
commutator to the DC power source.

Armature

Rotor

Stator

Commutator split-ring

Commutator brushes

Describe the main features


of a DC electric motor and
the role of each feature.
Identify that the required
magnetic fields in DC motors
can be produced either by
current-carrying coils or
permanent magnets.

Brushless DC motors

he designs of many modern DC motors are more complex


than the simple example we study in this chapter. The
brushless DC motor has numerous significant advantages, and
is used commonly in computer cooling fans (Figure 6.1.2). The
cylindrical permanent magnets in the rotor have alternating
poles around the circumference. Small electronics switch the
direction of the current in the stator coils. The magnetic field
from the stator coils rotates and this causes the rotor to rotate.

N
S
N

Figure 6.1.2 The brushless DC motor of a computer cooling fan

Now that we have seen the basic structure of a DC motor, we need to turn our
attention to understanding and explaining its operation. In section 4.3 we
encountered the motor effect, but now we will apply it to rotating a currentcarrying coil. Figure 6.1.1 shows that motors contain many coils of wire. For
simplicity we will begin by looking at a single coil and how it would act as a motor.

Lets torque about rotating coils


A torque is the turning effect (or turning moment) of a force. The force
that causes an electric motor to turn is the motor effect, so we must see how to
calculate a torque before we can begin to perform calculations for motors.
The idea of torque is illustrated in Figure 6.1.3a, which shows a force F due to
a person sitting on a see-saw. In this case the force is acting perpendicular to the
The magnitude () of the torque involved is calculated using
see-saw.
the equation:
= Fd

Define torque as the turning


moment of a force using:
= Fd

115

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around

pivot

where torque in newton metres (Nm) is given by the distance d from the pivot
If the force is not acting
in metres multiplied by the force F in newtons.
at right angles to the see-saw (Figure 6.1.3b), it is the perpendicular component
F of the force that is used. As F = Fcos, the formula for torque becomes:
= Fd = Fcosd

b
d

F
cos =
F

Notice that the angle between F and F is the same as the angle the
see-saw makes with the horizontal. We will use this fact again soon. Note that
you could also use = Fd.

Worked example
QUESTION

Figure 6.1.3 A force acting on the end of


a see-saw exerts a torque.
(a) Force at right-angles to
the see-saw and (b) force
angled to the see-saw.

Identify that the motor effect is


due to the force acting on a
current-carrying conductor in
a magnetic field.

axis of rotation

FYZ

FWX

Calculate the torque exerted on the see-saw in Figure 6.1.3b if a force of 980N was acting
at a distance of 4.0 m from the pivot at an angle of 30.

SOLUTION

= Fd = Fcosd

= 980 cos30 4.0

= 3390 Nm

Quantifying torque on a coil


When a current-carrying loop (or coil) is placed in a magnetic field, it is the
force we know as the motor effect that applies a torque on the coil. Figure 6.1.4a
If we know the
shows a current-carrying loop within a magnetic field.
direction of the current in the coil, we can use the right-hand palm rule to give
us the direction of the forces on each side of the coil. Recall from our previous
study of the motor effect that charges moving parallel to the magnetic field do
not experience a force. This explains why only the forces FWX and FYZ act on the
coil between points W and X, and Y and Z respectively, when it is in the position
shown in Figure 6.1.4a. During the coils rotation, forces are experienced by sides
XY and WZ, but they essentially cancel each other out and the coil is not free
to move in these directions. Now lets apply our new understanding of torque to
this coil.
The forces FWX and FYZ apply a torque to the coil, and at the moment
shown in Figure 6.1.4a the magnitude of each torque () is given by:

= F d

b
FWX

WX

rotation

axis of rotation

YZ

FYZ

Figure 6.1.4 (a) The current-carrying coil is


able to rotate about the axis of
rotation (dashed line). (b) The
same coil a short time later has
rotated slightly, as seen from
point A along the axis of rotation.
116

We will use the wire between points W and X as our example and consider
the situation in Figure 6.1.4b in which the coil has rotated. We must now
account for the fact that force FWX is not acting perpendicular to the coil, so we
use the formula seen previously:
= Fd = FWXcosd
As the force FWX is the motor effect, we recall the equation:
FWX = BIlsin
Note that in this equation is the angle we met in section 4.3. It is the
angle of a current-carrying wire to the magnetic field through which it passes.
This is not the same angle as in the cos term of the previous equation. Since the

motors and
generators
two sides of the coil that experience a force (wx and yz in Figure 6.1.4) are
always perpendicular to the field, = 90. This makes sin = 1 and therefore:
FWX = BIl
Combining this equation with = FWXcosd (using the other !) gives:
= BIlcosd
where l is the length W to X (WX) and d is half the length of X to Y (XY/2).
Now we consider the whole coil. The two forces FWX and FYZ are equal and
both make the coil rotate in the same direction. The total torque on the coil is:
total = 2BIlcosd
The product 2ld is the area of the coil A. This gives:
= BIAcos
Motors have more than one coil, so we make one final adjustment to this
expression, giving:
= nBIAcos
where n is the number of turns in the coil.
This formula quantifies the
torque (turning effect) on a rotating coil in newton metres (Nm). It is important
to note that the angle in this equation is the angle of the coil relative to the
magnetic field, as shown in Figure 6.1.4b.

Solve problems and analyse


information about simple
motors using:
= nBIAcos

Worked example
QUESTION

axis of
rotation

The coil in Figure 6.1.5 contains 50 turns and is carrying a 6.0 102 A current in a
5.0 103 T magnetic field. Calculate the torque on the coil if the coil has rotated 30
relative to the field.

= 4.5 105 Nm

cm

cm

SOLUTION
Using = nBIAcos and converting the lengths to metres:
= 50 5.0 103 6.0 x 102 (0.06 0.05) cos30

F
B

Figure 6.1.5

Operation of a simple DC motor


Lets follow the rotation of a coil within a simple DC motor to understand how
motors work. We will analyse the situation shown in Figure 6.1.7. In Figure
6.1.7a the coil of a DC motor is connected to a battery via a split-ring
commutator at A. At the moment shown in Figure 6.1.7a, the two curved metal
contacts of the commutator splitring direct the conventional current around
the coil through points W, X, Y and Z in turn. Figure 6.1.7b shows the coil in
Figure 6.1.7a as seen from the point A along the axis of rotation. The coil is
seen end-on, and we can see the direction in which the current flows along sides
These sides experience a force F that imposes a torque
WX and YZ.
on the coil, causing it to turn. The magnitude of the torque on the coil at
positions 15 is shown on the graph in Figure6.1.7c. Lets now follow this
coil through half a rotation and see what happens to the current and torque
on the coil.
Recall that the torque on the coil in Figure 6.1.7 is given by the equation:

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 6.2

Activity Manual, Page


48

Describe the forces


experienced by a currentcarrying loop in a magnetic
field and describe the net
result of the forces.

= nBIAcos
117

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around
In this example the values of all the variables on the right-hand side of the
The variation in the cos
equation remain constant, except for the angle .
term accounts for the variation in the magnitude of the perpendicular force F
experienced by the sides WX and YZ. This force determines the amount of torque
acting on the coil, and therefore the torque varies accordingly as the coil rotates.
At position 1 in Figure 6.1.7b, the perpendicular force F on the coil is at a
maximum and therefore the torque is at a maximum. This occurs when is
zero and cos is 1.
At position 2, the coil has rotated 45 with respect to the magnetic field. The
magnitude of the perpendicular force (F) acting on the coil is less than at
position 1. This means that the torque acting on the coil has reduced. At this
point, cos is approximately 0.7. Note that real motors have curved magnets
in the stator to ensure that each coil maintains = 0 as long as possible. This
provides maximum torque for the longest time possible during each rotation.
In the example in Figure 6.1.7, the magnets in the stator are not curved, so
only at positions 1 and 5 is = 0.
At position 3, the perpendicular component of the force F has dropped to
zero. Consequently, there is no torque acting on the coil at this instant. Here
is 90 and cos is 0, so torque is zero. At this point the brushes and splitring
within the commutator have broken contact momentarily and no current
flows in the coil. The current needs to be reversed in the coil at this point, so
that the motor continues to turn for the next half rotation.
Between position 3 and 4, the commutator has reconnected the coil and
reversed the direction of the current flowing in the coil (now flowing through
points Z, Y, X and W in turn). The opposite sides of the split-ring
commutator are now connected to the terminals of the battery. If the current
had remained in the original direction once the motor rotated past point 3,
the forces on the coil would have been in the opposite direction to the initial
rotation. This would stop further rotation.
As the motor moves through position 4, the perpendicular component of the
force F is increasing. This means the torque is increasing and will reach a

Try this!
Model a simple motor

o get a better understanding of


the forces on a coil as it rotates,
make a model of a simple motor.
You need some coat-hanger wire,
a few bamboo skewers, Blu-Tack,
two small magnets, a cork and
paper. Construct a coil as shown in
Figure 6.1.6. Here the green
skewer indicates the magnetic
field. The red skewer points on the
magnets represent the direction of
the force due to the motor effect.
Work with a friend and model the
forces on a coil as it rotates.

Figure 6.1.6 A simple model of


an electric motor
b
axis of
rotation

a
X
F

YZ

WX

c
Position

= 0

WX

Torque
0 max.

YZ
F

= 45

WX

Figure 6.1.7 (a) A simplified model of a DC motor.


(b) The coil as seen from point A in part a,
showing forces and current over a half
rotation. (c) Torque on the coil over a
half rotation
118

= 90

YZ
F

F
YZ
F

YZ

WX
F

= 45

WX
F

= 90

Time

motors and
generators
maximum again at position 5. At position 5 the coil has performed half a
rotation and the pattern we have seen from positions 1 to 5 will repeat until
the coil is back to its original orientation at position 1.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 6.1

PHYSICS FEATURE

Activity Manual, Page


42

Galvanometers

he galvanometer was developed in the 1800s to measure the


relative strength and direction of electrical currents. Its
descendant is the analogue ammeter (Figure 6.1.8), which is
calibrated in units of amperes and its basic structure is shown in
Figure 6.1.9. In an ammeter, the coil is connected in parallel to a
low-resistance wire within the ammeter. When a current is passed
into the ammeter, only a small amount of the total current flows
through the coil and this is proportional to the total current.
When a current passes through the coil shown in Figure 6.1.9,
it experiences a force due to the motor effect. This force exerts a
torque on the coil, causing it to rotate around the pivot. A spring
provides resistance to the torque, and the needle comes to rest
when the torque on the coil equals the torque from the spring. The
torque on the coil is proportional to the current passing through
the coil. Therefore the amount the coil and needle move indicates
the size of the current.
To ensure that the needle moves (or deflects) by the same
amount with each ampere of current being measured, the magnets
are curved around the coil and iron core. This ensures that the
magnetic field is always perpendicular to the flow of current along
the sides of the coil. A uniform maximum torque will then be
experienced by the coil through its whole range of movement.
This means that the scale you read on the ammeter can be uniform
(i.e. the scale has the same-sized divisions throughout).

Identify data sources, gather and process


information to qualitatively describe the
application of the motor effect in:
the galvanometer
the loudspeaker.

Figure 6.1.8 A moving coil ammeter

pointer

force

permanent magnet

spring

coil

pivot

moving
coil

soft iron
core
magnetic field

Figure 6.1.9 Cross-section of a moving coil


galvanometer

Checkpoint 6.1
1
2
3

Explain how each part of a DC motor contributes to its operation.


Define torque and explain how torque varies during the rotation of a DC motor.
Compare the features of a DC motor and a galvanometer.
119

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around
B

Current (A)

motor current
0
0

Time (ms)

Figure 6.2.1 Graph of net current for a DC


motor averaged over many cycles

Account for Lenzs Law in


terms of conservation of energy
and relate it to the production
of back emf in motors.

6.2 Back emf and DC electric motors


We now know that when a current is applied to the coil of a motor, the coil
experiences a force. This force exerts a torque on the coil and the rotor begins
to rotate. If we continue to apply the same current to the coil, the net force on
the coil continues increasing the motors speed (recall Newtons second law).
This may make you wonder why a motor doesnt just keep speeding up. We
know from experience that they dont because our toys with motors dont
accelerate forever.
The main reason DC motors reach a maximum operating speed is that a
Back emf is a
back emf is generated in the coil as the motor rotates.
potential difference across the terminals of the motor created by the changing
magnetic flux passing through the wire coils within the motor (see section 5.1).
Look back at Figure 6.1.7 for a moment. At position 1 the magnetic flux
B through the coil is zero. At position 2 in Figure 6.1.7b, the magnetic field
is pointing right to left through the coil and the magnetic flux is increasing.
This tells us that there should be an emf induced that would produce a
magnetic field pointing from left to right to reduce the increasing magnetic
flux. This field would be produced by a current flowing through Z, Y, X and
W in turn. We can see from Figure 6.1.7a that this would be a current that
opposes the one generated by the supply emf (through W, X, Y and Z in
turn). The result of this would be that the net current in the coil would be less
than the supply emf could generate. Another way to think about it is to recall
the equation for Faradays law:
= n(B/t)

Try this!
a back emf
Connect a DC motor to a
battery and place an ammeter
in the circuit to measure the
current flowing through the
motor. Predict how the amount
of current flowing will change
if you apply a significant load
on the motor. Try it! How did
you go?

Explain that, in electric


motors, back emf opposes
the supply emf.

120

We can see that this changing flux B over time t would generate a
potential difference or emf .
This potential difference (back emf ) is in the opposite direction to
the applied potential difference (supply emf) that causes the rotor to turn. As
the speed of the motor increases the back emf increases, as B/t increases.
Eventually this potential difference cancels out most of the applied potential
difference and virtually no current flows through the coil. At this point there
is no net torque acting on the rotor and it turns at a constant speed.
Let us analyse this situation using Figure 6.2.1. At time A on the graph,
the motor is connected to a DC power source. The applied potential
difference causes a current (blue line) to flow in the motors coil and this
builds quickly to its maximum value. Once the coil starts turning, a back emf
is generated due to the changing flux within the coil. This back emf is in the
opposite direction to the applied potential difference and therefore reduces
the net potential difference, which in turn reduces the current flowing in the
coil as the speed of rotation increases.
At time B, the motor has reached its maximum rotational speed. Here
most of the supply emf has been cancelled out by the back emf. If the motor
has no load attached to it, only a small current continues to flow. This residual
current is required to overcome any friction within the motor and any voltage
drop due to losses such as resistive heating. There is no net torque on the coil
between times B and C and the motor operates at a constant speed.

motors and
generators
At time C, a large load is applied to the motor, such as the motor turning
a wheel to move a toy car. The motor slows down quickly under this load and
the amount of back emf is reduced. This means that the applied potential
difference is greater and therefore a larger current flows through the coil.
At time D, a larger current continues to flow through the coils. If the
motor is not designed to handle the resistive heating produced by this larger
current, the motor may burn out. Burn out occurs when insulation melts at
high temperature, and may cause other components to melt. The motor will
then cease to operate efficiently.

Back emf
measures
motor speed

Checkpoint 6.2
1
2
3

Define the term back emf.


Describe the relationship between back emf and supply emf during
the operation of a motor.
Analyse the production of back emf in terms of Lenzs law.

n some motors back emf is


used to measure their speed.
The input voltage is turned off
for a short amount of time and
the back emf is measured. Since
the back emf is proportional to
the speed of the motor, a
calibration can be applied and
the speed can be calculated.

6.3 Alternating current electric


motors
Many large appliances in your home contain motors that use single-phase
240V alternating current (AC). Single-phase AC was illustrated in Figure 4.1.2
as a blue curve, showing a current changing direction many times a second. To
connect an appliance to the mains power, you insert a plug (Figure 6.3.1) into
the wall socket. This allows single-phase AC to be supplied by the active pin and
the circuit to be completed by the neutral pin.
Some industrial motors require more power and torque than can be
supplied by single-phase AC. These motors are typically supplied with threephase 415V AC by a plug with four or five pins. Figure 6.3.2 shows the AC
signal available for three-phase equipment. This involves three alternating
currents that can be applied to different coils within a motor at any one time.

active

neutral

earth

Current

+
0

Time

Figure 6.3.1 A typical plug for an electrical


appliance in Australia

Figure 6.3.2 Each of the three AC in


three-phase power is 120
out of phase with the others.

121

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around
AC motors have the same basic components as DC motors but lack the
need for others. They all contain a rotor and stator. Their magnetic fields can be
generated by current-carrying coils. They utilise the motor effect to transform
electrical potential energy into rotational kinetic energy. Lets explore examples
of the AC induction motor that exist both in industry and in the home.

Three-phase AC induction motors


PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 6.3

Activity Manual, Page


51

The simplest induction motor is the three-phase AC induction motor


(Figure6.3.3). These motors are used in industry for their efficiency and
In Figure 6.3.5a,
reliability. Three-phase AC is fed to the coils in the stator.
each pair of magnetic poles in the stator is fed one phase of the AC signal.
The peak current of each phase is reached sequentially around the stator
(Figure 6.3.5b), creating a magnetic field (the stator field) that rotates.

electromagnets

rotor

Figure 6.3.3 In this cutaway image of a three-phase AC induction


motor, you can see the stator, consisting of electromagnets
arranged to form a hollow cylinder. Within the stator sits
the rotor, which is mounted on the motors shaft.

Universal motors

he most common type of motor in appliances


around the house is the universal motor. This
type of motor is capable of using both AC and
DC. Figure 6.3.4 shows that coils act as
electromagnets in the stator of these motors.
These provide stronger fields and are lighter
than permanent magnets. The coils are
connected in series with the rotor coils and use
a single-phase alternating current. These motors
are found in many household appliances in
which a variable speed is required, such as drills
and blenders.

armature coils

carbon brushes
shaft

stator coils
segmented
commutator

spring-loaded
brush holders

Figure 6.3.4 A typical universal electric motor, showing the main components.
Some motors would have additional stator coils. The commutator
feeds current to the armature coils in the position where most
torque will be experienced.

122

motors and
generators
a

conducting bars

Current

+
0

Time

i
rotor

ii

iii
2

end ring

Figure 6.3.5 (a) In a three-phase motor, as the current in each pair of opposite

coils peaks, the field appears to rotate, dragging the rotor around
with it. (b) A squirrel cage rotor. The rotor is made of iron
laminations to cut down undesirable eddy currents. The induced
currents flow lengthwise in copper or aluminium rods which are
joined at the ends (as in a squirrel cage).

stator pole

These motors contain a squirrel cage rotor (Figure 6.3.5b) that does not
Around the circumference of these
require the input of an external current.
rotors are a number of parallel conducting bars. These bars are joined at the ends
by an end ring that allows current to flow from one bar to another. The rotating
stator field induces a current in these bars and a magnetic field is induced in
accordance with Lenzs law. This induced magnetic field interacts with the rotating
field from the stator and the resulting forces cause a torque on the rotor. This
causes the rotor to spin without the need for a commutator as in a DC motor.
As these motors do not need brushes and therefore have fewer moving parts, they
are more efficient and more reliable.
Another way to understand the operation of an AC induction motor is to
consider a positive particle within one of the conducting bars in the stator.
Lets consider the bar marked A in Figure 6.3.6a. As the rotating magnetic field
moves upwards past bar A this is equivalent to the bar moving downwards in a
stationary magnetic field. Figure 6.3.6b shows this equivalent situation in which
bar A moves relative to the magnetic field. Using the right-hand palm rule
(see section 4.2) we see that a positive particle in bar A would experience a force
into the page. This is equivalent to a current being induced into the page in bar A.
Now we must use the right-hand palm rule (see section 4.3) to deduce the direction
of the motor effect on a current-carrying conductor. This indicates that a force is
exerted upwards on bar A and this is in the same direction as the rotating field in
Figure 6.3.6a. This force on bar A is the same as the force experienced by each bar
as the magnetic field rotates. These forces, in the same direction as the rotating
stator field, exert a torque on the rotor and are responsible for its rotation.
a

stator

force on bar A due


to motor effect

B
squirrel cage
conducting bars

rotating
magnetic
field

B
I
motion of bar A
relative to the
magnetic field

Figure 6.3.6 (a) The magnetic field due to


one phase of an AC inductor
motor. (b) The force acting on
squirrel cage rotor bar A in
part (a) due to the rotating
magnetic fields
123

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around

Single phase AC induction motors

Try this!
Induction exerts forces
Suspend a small piece of
a lightweight conductor (e.g.
aluminium foil) from fishing line.
Use your right-hand palm rule to
predict the force acting on the foil
as you move a strong magnet
vertically past the foil. Can you
observe any movement? If not,
use the scientific method to
discover why its not working
and try again.

Describe the main features of


an AC electric motor.
Gather, process and analyse
information to identify some of
the energy transfers and
transformations involving the
conversion of electrical energy
into more useful forms in the
home and industry.

A more complicated, but widely used, AC induction motor is the shaded-pole


AC induction motor shown in Figure 6.3.7. These motors require only a single
phase of AC and can be found in most household electric fans. In these motors
the alternating current is passed through a coil wrapped around the soft iron
casing. The stator field induced by the alternating current passes through the
casing and through the squirrel-cage rotor. Figure 6.3.7a shows the rotor
removed and leaning on the motor. A cross-section of a squirrel cage rotor is also
shown (Figure 6.3.7b) and clearly shows the conducting bars within the rotor.
Four small copper shading rings can be seen within the stator in Figure
6.3.7a. These are inserted into the stator on each side of the rotor on opposite
poles. The currents induced in these shading rings in accordance with Lenzs law
act to delay the magnetic flux passing through the rotor. This produces an
asymmetric magnetic field passing through the rotor shown in Figure 6.3.7c.
This leads to a changing magnetic field in each cycle of the alternating current
that sweeps across each pole of the stator. The sweeping change in magnetic field
strength across the rotor is essentially the same as the rotating magnetic field we
studied in the three-phase AC induction motor. This rotating magnetic field
causes a torque on the rotor in the same way as outlined for the three-phase
induction motor.
b

conducting bar

squirrel cage rotor


shading rings

rotor
shading rings delay
the phase of part of
the field to produce
a rotating field

thick, copper
shading ring

Figure 6.3.7 (a) A shaded-pole AC induction motor taken from a small household fan, with
(b) a cross-section of the rotor. The conducting bars can be seen clearly within
the laminated rotor. (c) The principle of a simple single-phase, shaded pole
induction motor. The distorted (or shaded) field causes the rotor to turn in
one direction in preference to the other.

124

motors and
generators

The right motor for the job


Now that we have seen a few examples of some common electric motors, lets
consider for a moment why they are chosen for their common applications.
The initial price and operating cost are key factors in making a decision.
Operating costs depend on factors such as energy efficiency and replacement of
parts due to wear and tear. The amount of torque required and how often a
motor will be put under load are also critical factors. These will determine how
much current is needed, the strength of the magnetic field required and
numerous other parameters. Of course there are other constraints including
portability, size and weight to consider. All these factors lead to a lot of
homework for an engineer who is trying to design a machine or appliance
driven by a motor.
A summary of the characteristics of the different types of motors discussed
in this chapter is provided in Table 6.3.1. Can you see why they are used in
their common applications?
Table 6.3.1 Characteristics of motors
Type

Advantages

Disadvantages

Common applications

Simple (brushed) DC
motor

Efficiency (%)
4090

Low cost, battery powered,


speed easily controlled

Toys, power tools, treadmill


exercisers, automotive
starters

Brushless DC motor

3090

AC universal motor

4060

Three-phase AC
induction motor

7090

Single-phase (shadedpole) AC induction motor

2035

Long working life, low


maintenance, high efficiency
High starting torque,
compact design, high
running speeds
High starting torque, high
power, high efficiency, good
power to weight ratio
Inexpensive, long working
life, high power, multi-speed

Short working life, high


maintenance (brushes),
sparking and ozone
production
High cost of some designs,
requires a controller
Less efficient than
equivalent DC motor
Requires three-phase power

Inefficient, low starting


torque

CD and DVD players,


computer hard drives
Blenders, vacuum cleaners,
hair dryers, portable power
tools, sewing machines
Industrial machinery, pumps
and compressors
Fans

Checkpoint 6.3
1
2
3

Compare the features of an AC induction motor and a simple DC motor.


Construct a flow chart to account for the operation of a three-phase AC induction motor.
Justify the choice of a three-phase AC induction motor for use in industrial machinery.

125

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 6

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 6.1: Applications of the motor effect


Identify data sources, gather
and process information to
qualitatively describe the
application of the motor
effect in:
the galvanometer
the loudspeaker.

Discussion questions
1 Outline how the motor effect is used to make music in a loudspeaker.
2 Explain how a loudspeaker differs from a motor in its use of the
motor effect.
3 Determine the difference between the way in which the motor effect
is used in a loudspeaker and in a galvanometer.

armature

Part A: Make a loudspeaker and determine how the motor effect is used to make
it work.
Equipment: two horseshoe magnets, strong sticky tape, thin insulated wire,
cardboard, power supply, alligator clips and wires.
Part B: Make a working galvanometer and determine the differences in this
application of the motor effect.
Equipment: PVC-covered copper wire (150 cm) with bare ends, wooden base
board, armature block, magnets, split pins, knitting needle, rivets, wire
strippers, drinking straw, rheostat (1015 ohms, rated at 5 A or more).

brush

Activity 6.2: Motors and torque


commutator

Figure 6.4.1 A simple motor

Solve problems and analyse


information about simple
motors using:
= nBIA cos

Make a motor like the one shown and note what factors change its performance.
Calculate the torque of your motor.
Equipment: insulated wire, magnets, magnetic field sensor and data logger
(if available), paperclips, Blu-Tack, connecting wires with alligator clips,
power supply.
Discussion questions
1 Investigate the factors that determine the effectiveness of the motor.
2 Calculate the amount of torque in your motor and list ways in which
torque can be increased.

Activity 6.3: AC induction motors


Perform an investigation to
demonstrate the principle of
an AC induction motor.

Using the equipment supplied, make a model of an AC induction motor and relate
each part to the parts in a real AC motor.
Equipment: aluminium foil, fishing line, retort stand and clamp, ceramic
magnet.
Discussion questions
1 Outline how the metal is made to move.
2 Explain why the AC induction motor is so efficient.

126

Chapter summary

The main features of a DC motor are the rotor (coils,


shaft and frame), stator (permanent or electromagnets),
commutator splitring and commutator brushes.
The roles of these components are summarised in
Table 6.1.1.
Torque is the turning effect of a force F. = Fd where
d is the distance from the pivot to the point where the
force is applied.
A current-carrying loop in an external magnetic field
experiences forces due to the motor effect that generate
a torque.
The torque on a current-carrying coil can be
quantified by the relation = nBIA cos where n is the
number of turns in the coil, B is the strength of the
magnetic field, I is the strength of the current in the
coil, A is the area of the coil and is the angle between
the plane of the coil and the magnetic field lines.
The torque on a coil in an external magnetic field varies
as the coil rotates. The torque is at a maximum when
the plane of the coil is parallel to the magnetic field

motors and
generators

and zero when the coil is perpendicular to the


magnetic field.
The current-carrying coil of a galvanometer experiences
a torque due to the motor effect. This torque is balanced
by a spring and this causes the needle to deflect by an
amount proportional to the current flowing. This allows
the determination of the magnitude and direction of the
current being measured.
When a DC motor rotates, its coils experience an
induced emf (back emf ) set up in accordance with
Lenzs law. This back emf opposes supply emf and
reduces the current flowing through the motors coils.
AC induction motors contain a squirrel-cage rotor
(conducting bars, shaft and frame) and stator
electromagnets.
AC induction motors generate a rotating magnetic field
that induces currents in the squirrel-cage rotor. These
current-carrying conductors in the rotor experience
a force due to the motor effect, which exerts a torque
on the rotor.

Review questions
Physically Speaking

Reviewing

The terms in the following list belong to two distinct groups.


Group these terms into the two groups and add the definition
of each term. Create a diagram to display the relationship
between them.

1 a Identify the type of motor in Figure 6.4.2.

Split-ring commutator
Squirrel cage
Brushes
Stator

b Identify each of the labelled features.


c Construct a table to list the parts you have
identified and the role each plays.

2 Explain why radial (curved) magnets in a motor allow

Fan
Bearings
Armature
Magnets

for greatest efficiency.

3 Describe the differences and similarities in the way


permanent and current-carrying coils produce
magnetic fields within a DC motor.

D
E

4 Define a galvanometer and outline what it is used for.


5 A galvanometer has a spring attached to the centre
of it, distinguishing it from a simple DC motor. Give
reasons for its presence.

6 Recall Lenzs law and explain how Lenzs law accounts


for the conservation of energy.

Figure 6.4.2

7 Describe what is meant by back emf.


8 Determine how back emf is produced in a motor.
9 Explain what a manufacturer does to a motor to
account for back emf.

127

Motors: magnetic
fields make the
world go around

10 a Label the parts of the AC motor in Figure 6.4.3.


b Explain what you could do to this motor to make it
into a DC motor.
B

18 Students undertook to measure the torque produced


by a simple DC motor.

The motor contained 100 turns and the square


armature was 0.03m in length. The motor is attached
to a piece of string holding a mass (Figure 6.4.4).

D
A

motor

motor shaft

r
edge of table
string

mass

Figure 6.4.3

11
12
13
14

Figure 6.4.4

Give examples of where an AC motor would be used.


Compare and contrast DC and AC motors.

The motor was turned on and allowed to wind up the


mass until it stalled and stopped. At this point the
radius of the windings r was recorded. The current
supplied to the motor was gradually increased and
the process repeated.

Explain how an AC induction motor works.


Explain how a single-phase induction motor gets
started.

15 Distinguish between situations in which AC universal


motors and AC induction motors would be best
suited.

The table of results is shown below.


solving Problems
16 Calculate the maximum torque that is generated by a
force of 460N applied to an object at a distance of
3m from its axis of rotation.

17 Calculate the torque in a square coil with sides of


length 3cm. The current in the coil is 2A and it is
placed in a magnetic field of 0.3T.

Re

128

Q uesti o

a
b
c
d

iew

= F d = mg d

Mass = 0.5kg

Torque (Nm)

Current a

Radius (m)

0.27

0.1

0.055

0.54

0.2

0.11

0.81

0.3

0.165

1.08

0.4

0.22

1.35

0.5

0.276

1.62

0.6

0.331

Draw a graph of torque versus current.


Determine the gradient of the line.
What quantity does this value represent?
From this value, determine the magnetic field
in which the armature is spinning.

motors and
generators

PHYSICS FOCUS
Linear motors

igure 6.4.5 is of a maglev traina train that floats


on its rail and moves at very high speeds. You will
study the floating mechanism in detail in Module 3
From Ideas to Implementation, but lets have a look
at how the train actually moves forward.
The maglev train operates solely on electric power.
The propulsion method is via an electric motorbut
one with a differenceit is a linear motor. This is, in
principle, an electric motor that has been unwrapped
and flattened. Magnetic fields on the train and rail
are continually created to attract and repel each other.
It is these interactions that apply the forces to propel
the train forward.
Linear motors produce motion by moving in a
straight line rather than the traditional rotational
motion. There are two main parts: the stator unrolled
(the primary) and laid flat on the rail, and the
secondary, which is the glider on the train that floats
over the rail.

3. Applications and uses of physics

Why use this type of motor? Reasons include:


It has no moving parts so there is no wear and tear.
The train rides on an air cushion, so less energy is
lost due to friction.
Electromagnets are used for braking, so the train
is a lot quieter.
1 Outline how a DC motor works.
2 Outline how an AC induction motor works.
3 Compare the uses for an AC induction motor with
that of an AC universal motor.
4 Draw a diagram of a DC motor and explain what
can be done to it to make it an AC motor.
5 Determine how torque is calculated in a motor.
6 Justify the use of linear motors in such applications
as the maglev train.
7 Evaluate the cost associated with maglev trains and
standard trains.

Research
8 Find out exactly how a linear motor works.
9 Compare the torque produced in a standard motor
with the linear force in a linear motor.

Figure 6.4.5 A linear motor propels this maglev train.

129

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the
people
Technology that changed our lives

generator, transformer, step-down


transformer, step-up transformer,
flux leakage, magnetic hysteresis,
power stations, substation,
transmission towers, insulators,
lightning protector

Widespread access to affordable electricity has arguably been the


single greatest catalyst for change in modern society. It has had an
impact on every aspect of our lives, from our health to our wealth and
even what we do in our leisure time. Some key developments that
enabled this revolution were the invention of the AC generator
and the transformer. Their significance is far beyond
the reaches of the power lines they service and, as
we shall see, they involve more than meets the eye.

7.1 AC and DC generators

Permanent magnets
or electromagnets
provide an external
magnetic field.

In chapter 6, we saw that the real value of electric motors was that they convert
electrical potential energy into rotational kinetic or mechanical energy. A logical
question that follows is how do we get the electrical potential energy that turns
these motors?. For many of our household applications, the answer is we use
a generator. When you switch on an electrical appliance at home, you may not
realise where the energy comes from. In some distant power plant there is a huge
rotating machine as big as a building that looks like a huge electric motor. The
difference is that this generator is producing electricity instead of using it.
The simplest AC motor design is the synchronous AC
motor (Figure 7.1.1). If this motor was supplied with 50Hz
AC from the power point, it would spin at 50 revolutions
per second in synchronisation with the electrical signal. This
S
design has no practical application, but more complicated
designs are used in clocks and tape drives, due to their
constant speed.

AC supply
Slip-ring commutator continuously
connects the rotating coil to the AC supply.

130

Figure 7.1.1 A synchronous motor uses a slip-ring commutator


to feed AC to the motor.

motors and
generators
Although it lacks applications as a motor, this design would produce an
electric current if you turned the coil with your hands. In this way it is acting as
When we turn the motor ourselves, its coil experiences a
a generator.
changing magnetic field and an emf is induced (recall Faradays law). If the loop
is connected by a circuit, a current flows, and we have turned the motor into
a generator.
The parts of a generator are essentially the same as those of a motor (see
Table 7.1.1). The difference is that we physically turn a generator and it produces
electrical potential energy. So the operation of a generator is the opposite of that
of a motor. In this section we will only consider simple generators; we will see a
more complicated version in section 7.3.

Describe the main components


of a generator.

Table 7.1.1 The parts of a simple generator and their function


Part

Description and role

Armature

The armature is the part of a generator that contains current-carrying coils. These carry an induced
current caused by a changing magnetic field. For simple generators these are the coils in the rotor, but
in other generators the armature is in the stator.
These are the many loops of wire that carry electrical current. In many generators there are two sets of
coils. One set is the electromagnets that provide the magnetic field (in simple generators this field is
provided by permanent magnets). The other set is in the armature and these electromagnets carry the
current produced by the generator.
The rotor generally consists of coils of wire wound around a laminated iron frame. The frame is attached
to an axle or shaft that allows it to rotate. The iron frame is laminated to reduce heating and losses due
to eddy currents. The iron itself acts to intensify the magnetic field passing through the coils.
In simple generators the stator is the stationary permanent magnets or electromagnets that provide an
external magnetic field around the rotor. These magnets are curved to maximise the amount of time the
sides of the rotor coil are travelling perpendicular to the magnetic field. In some generators the stator
contains the armature coils and a magnet turns as part of the rotor to produce a changing magnetic field.
A simple DC generator contains semicircular metal contacts (a split ring) that reverse the direction of the
current flowing out of the rotor coil every half rotation. This reversal of the current ensures that the
current being produced is DC.
A simple AC generator has two circular metal contacts. Each slip ring is connected to one end of the
coils in the rotor. These provide an alternating current that changes direction every half rotation. In more
complicated examples these provide a current to an electromagnet in the rotor and a current is produced
in the stator.
Brushes are conducting contacts (generally of graphite or metal) that connect the commutator to the
external circuit.

Coils

Rotor

Stator

Commutator
split ring
Commutator
slip ring

Commutator
brushes

Figure 7.1.2a shows a typical hand-operated generator found in schools. This


generator has the features of both an AC and a DC generator. With the flick of
a switch you can connect to the components for either type of generator and
produce a current by winding the handle. If you have access to one of these make
sure you try it out and try to identify all its parts.

A simple AC generator

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 7.1

Activity Manual, Page


54

Figure 7.1.3a shows a simple model of an AC generator. This generator


therefore contains a slip-ring commutator that simply connects each end of the
rotating coil to an external circuit. The rotor of the generator shown is being
turned by hand. Lets follow a full rotation of this generator as shown in Figure
7.1.3b and use the graph (Figure 7.1.3c) to gain an understanding of its
operation. Figure 7.1.3c shows the amount of flux B passing within the coil
WXYZ. It also shows the induced emf caused by the rate of change of flux
B/t in accordance with Faradays law (see section 5.1). This emf would result
in a current flowing within the coil, if the output terminals were connected.
131

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

slip-ring commutator
to produce AC

slip-ring commutator
to produce DC

S
coils or
windings

rotor and
armature

stator
magnets

output terminals

Figure 7.1.2 (a) A typical AC and DC generator found in high schools and (b) a close-up
showing the main parts of this generator (see Table 7.1.1 for details)

At position 1 (Figure 7.1.3b), the plane of the coil WXYZ lies parallel to the
magnetic field. This means that no magnetic field lines are passing within
the coil, so the amount of magnetic flux B within the coil is zero. Recall
Faradays law:

Try This!
Modelling generators
Use the model of a simple
motor suggested in section 6.1
to model the operation of a
generator. Add slip-ring and
split-ring commutators by
sticking pieces of aluminium
foil around the cork. Ensure
you can describe and explain
the current that would be
produced during a full rotation.

ractiv

nte

M o d u le

132

= n(B/t)
which shows that the emf induced in the coil is proportional to the rate of
change in magnetic flux B/t passing within the coilnot the flux value
itself. At position 1, the emf is at a maximum because the rate of change of the
magnetic flux is at its maximum. This can be seen in Figure 7.1.3c in which
the tangents to the curve (illustrating the slope of the curve) for the magnetic
flux B represent the rate of change of magnetic flux B/t. The tangent at
position 1 is at the maximum positive value and, therefore, so is the induced
emf, according to Faradays law.
If the output terminals of the generator are connected, the induced emf
in the coil will cause a current to flow. At position 1, this occurs in the
direction marked (i.e. through Z, Y, X and W in turn). To determine the
direction of this current, lets consider a positive charge in the wire between
points W and X at position A. The right-hand palm rule shows that a charge
moving upwards at position A, as the coil rotates within the magnetic field,
will experience a force towards point W. You could also determine the direction
of the current using Lenzs law. Review Lenzs law and then give it a try.
At position 2 the coil has rotated 45. The amount of flux passing through the
coil has increased from zero and will continue to increase until position 3. The
rate of change of magnetic flux B/t at position 2 has decreased and will
continue to decrease until the coil reaches position 3. Around position 3 the
flux is changing relatively slowly. At position 3 the flux reaches a maximum
and then starts to decrease. Since the rate of change of flux B/t is zero
(as shown by the slope of the tangent) at position 3, the emf must also be
zero according to Faradays law. This means there will be no current flowing
through the coil at this point.

b
a

rotation
X

B
A
W

Position

WX

YZ
YZ
YZ

+max.

WX

and B

max. 0

YZ

WX

motors and
generators

WX

tangents show
rate of change

WX

YZ

YZ

WX

YZ

7
WX

YZ

8
axis of
rotation

output terminals

WX

WX

YZ

Time

Figure 7.1.3 (a) A simplified model of an AC generator and (b) the coil as seen from point P in part (a), showing the direction
of the current flowing over one rotation. (c) A graph of magnetic flux and induced emf over one rotation

Once the coil rotates past point 3, the flux B begins to decrease and the rate
of change of flux B/t is increasing. We can see this as the slope of the
curve for B gets bigger (as shown by a tangent to the curve). When the flux
B is decreasing, B=BfinalBinitial is a negative value and so is
B/t. This means that according to Faradays law the induced emf now has
the opposite sign to the sign it had before position 3. This means that the
current produced by this emf is in the opposite direction to the one that
would have flowed before position 3. This explains why we get an AC current,
because at positions 3 and 7 in Figure 7.1.3b the current will change direction.
Between positions 3 and 5 the flux decreases and is zero at position 5. The rate
of change of flux increases to a maximum at position 5. This means that the
emf increases to a maximum at point 5 and, therefore, so does the induced
current. Notice that in Figure 7.1.3b the current flowing along the side of the
coil WX is now flowing into the page. You can use the right-hand palm rule to
show that the current is now flowing through points W, X, Y and Z in turn.
This further illustrates that the current has reversed direction at point 3 and
we are producing an AC current at the output terminals.
Follow the rotation through to position 9 and you will see that the current
changes direction again at position 7 and the full cycle is completed at
position 9. Each rotation induces an emf in the coil that is in one direction
for half a rotation and in the opposite direction for the other half of a rotation.
This alternating emf can produce an alternating current and our explanation
of the operation of AC generators is complete.

A simple DC generator
Now that we have seen how an AC generator works, lets look at a DC generator.
Figure 7.1.5a shows a simple model of a DC generator. The obvious
difference is the split-ring commutator connecting the coil to the external circuit.
We have seen this situation in a simple DC motor (see Figure 6.1.7) but now
it is acting as a DC generator. Note that the graph for emf is the emf that would
be measured at the output terminals. This is therefore affected by the inclusion
of a split-ring commutator that is fundamental to the functioning of a DC
generator. Lets focus on what is different about the operation of a DC generator.

A Linear
Generator
magnet
motion of magnet

coil

Figure 7.1.4 A torch without batteries

ith energy shaping up to be


the single biggest issue for
humans in the future, there are
many new devices available to
help us save energy. A torch
without batteries is just one
example. These torches contain
a permanent magnet that can
slide back and forth inside a coil
of wire. The current generated in
the coil is stored in a capacitor
and is then ready for use in the
torch.

133

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people
As before, we see that the change in the rate of change of magnetic flux
B/t in the coil causes a changing induced emf (Figure 7.1.5c). The
operation of this generator is the same as the AC example until we get to
position 3. At position 3 the brushes of the commutator reverse the contact
between the coil and the external circuit.
The current flowing in the coil WXYZ is in the same direction as for an AC
generator (see Figure 7.1.3b). The difference is that now this current only
flows in one direction in the external circuit. As the current in the coil
changes direction at position 3, the split-ring commutator reverses the
connection. This causes the current to flow in the same direction in the
external circuit throughout the entire rotation.
From the graph of emf in Figure 7.1.5c you can see that the emf induced in
the external circuit rises and falls but is always in the same direction. This
produces a current that also rises and falls and is always in the same direction.
This is DC. We usually see a DC (or emf ) represented on a graph as a
straight line with one value (e.g. the red line in Figure 4.1.2). This might be
the case with a current from a battery, but not for the output direct from a
DC generator.
At position 7 we see that again the split-ring commutator reverses the contact
to the external circuit. A current in this external circuit would continue to
flow in the same direction, even though the current in the coil again changes
direction.

Regenerative
braking

n energy-efficient way to
slow a moving vehicle is to
convert the kinetic energy of the
vehicle into electricity. This
energy can then be stored and
reused to get the vehicle moving
again. Traditionally braking was
achieved by using friction and
the energy was lost as heat.
Modern trains and electric hybrid
automobiles now use these
systems to increase efficiency.
The electric motors on the
wheels of the vehicle are used as
generators when the brakes are
applied, and energy is stored in
batteries or a capacitor.

Position

b
1

2
a
X
S

axis of
rotation

+max.

WX

YZ

YZ

tangents show
rate of change
B

WX

YZ
Z

WX
Y

and B
max.

YZ

WX

WX
YZ

YZ
WX
YZ

7
output terminals

WX
YZ

8
WX

WX

YZ
Time

Figure 7.1.5 (a) A simplified model of an DC generator and (b) of the coil as seen from point P in part (a), showing one complete rotation.
(c) A graph of magnetic flux and induced emf over this rotation

134

motors and
generators

Comparing AC and DC generators


The differences in the structure and operation of simple AC and DC generators
The two styles of commutator are essential to the
should now be clear.
production of either AC or DC and are the main difference. As DC generators
have more complicated commutators, they are generally less reliable. The
continual electrical reconnection and the extra mechanical wear in the split-ring
commutator reduces the service life of a DC generator and increases running
costs. Electrical arcing between the split ring and the brushes also produces
electromagnetic radiation. This can cause interference in other electronics and to
radio communication.
When we consider the operation of simple generators, we see that both styles
of commutator connect the rotating coils to an external circuit. The commutators
in a DC generator perform the additional function of reversing the direction of
the connection to the outside circuit each half revolution. This acts to maintain
the current in the external circuit flowing in one direction, even though the
current within the rotating coil is changing direction. We will see in section 7.3
that more complicated generators produce their current in the stator. We will
learn that this is the case in a generator used in a large-scale AC power plant.
This configuration is best for generating high currents and is designed to produce
three-phase electricity.

PHYSICS FEATURE
Comparing motors
and generators

Describe the differences


between AC and DC generators.
Gather secondary information
to discuss advantages/
disadvantages of AC and DC
generators and relate these to
their use.

Compare the structure and function


of a generator to an electric motor.

dynamotor. These can be used to convert DC


electricity to different voltages. This could occur if the
set contained a DC motor and DC generator. As we will
see in the next chapter, there is a handy device that
can easily convert AC to different voltages, but it is
more difficult with DC. Motor-generators can also be
used to convert AC to DC, DC to AC and AC to AC at
another frequency. Modern electronics have now
allowed all these conversions to be made without
the use of a motor-generator, but there are still some
applications where electronics are not practical.

comparison between motors and generators is now


relatively easy. First, take a look at Tables 6.1.1
and 7.1.1 to identify the similarities and differences.
You may have noticed that we had already seen the
principles behind the operation of a generator when
we studied back emf in motors (section 6.2). The
induced emf that opposes supply emf in a motor
would produce a current if there was no supply emf
and you would have a generator.
Figure 7.1.6 shows the
AC voltage is applied to the
combination of a motor and a
motor coil through slip rings
generator. This illustrates the
conversion of mechanical energy to
AC voltage output is through
slip rings and brushes
electrical energy in the generator
and back again in the motor. It also
N
shows the similarity in construction
mechanical energy
input
is
converted
of both an AC motor and an AC
into electrical energy
S
generator. This combination of a
generator
motor and a generator is commonly
known as a motor-generator set or
Figure 7.1.6 A motor-generator set or dynamotor

mechanical
energy output

motor

back emf generated


by turning of motor
voltage applied to motor

135

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

Checkpoint 7.1
1
2
3

Use labelled diagrams to outline the structure of simple AC and DC motors.


Compare the structure and function of motors and generators.
Describe and contrast the structure and function of AC and DC generators.

7.2 Transformers
Discuss why some electrical
appliances in the home that
are connected to the mains
domestic power supply use
a transformer.
Describe the purpose of
transformers in electrical
circuits.

Our everyday use of electricity requires a large variety of electrical currents and
voltages. With DC, this usually means that we have the right battery for the job.
With AC, its another story altogether. When you plug in your laptop computer,
it typically requires an AC input of about 18.5V, but the average value of the
voltage from the power point is about 240 V. (Note: the Australian standard is
now 230 V.) The conversion of AC to the correct voltage occurs, with a range of
+10% to 6%, in a small box on the laptops power cable, which contains a
device called a transformer.
changing magnetic flux

Try This!
exploring
electromagnetism
To observe the magnetic flux
produced by a changing current,
place a wire with many loops near or
wrapped around a magnetic compass.
Connect a battery to your coil and
observe the compass needle as you
connect and disconnect the circuit.

340

200

22

32

0 280 3
0 26
00

24

14

40

20

160

60

80

100

12

Figure 7.2.2 A current through a coil


induces a magnetic flux.

136

AC supply

voltage Vp

voltage Vs

primary coil
with np turns

load

secondary coil
with ns turns

Figure 7.2.1 In an ideal transformer, the iron core ensures that all the flux generated
in the primary coil also passes through the secondary coil.

Transformers are devices that can easily convert alternating


currents to higher or lower voltages. They consist of two coils of insulated
wire wound around an iron core (see Figure 7.2.1). You may notice that
they have the same basic construction as Faradays iron ring we studied
Faraday observed
earlier (see Figure 5.1.4). As we saw in Chapter 5,
an induced current in a secondary coil only when there was a changing
current in the primary coil, and this is illustrated in Figure 5.1.5. The
changing current in the primary coil created a changing magnetic flux that
passed through the secondary coil. This changing flux induced an emf in
It is
the secondary coil and an induced current was measured.
important to note that when a direct current was applied to the primary
coil it did not produce a continually changing magnetic field, so
transformers are only practical for AC.
To quantify the voltage conversions performed by transformers,
we recall Faradays law from Chapter 5:
= n(B/t)

motors and
generators
Lets consider applying a 50Hz input voltage Vp across the primary coil of
the transformer in Figure 7.2.1, which has np turns (or loops) of wire. If we
assume there are no losses, this will produce the same changing magnetic flux
B/t within both coils. This changing magnetic flux will produce a 50Hz
alternating voltage Vs across the secondary coil with ns turns. Substituting into
Faradays law gives:
B
B
Vp = np
and Vs = ns
t
t

Dividing one expression by the other gives:


Vp
Vs

np
ns

This expression shows us the relationship between the number of turns and
the voltages across each coil of a transformer.
If we analyse the expression above, we can see that if the primary coil has
more turns (loops) than the secondary coil (i.e. np/ns>1), the voltage Vp across
the primary coil will be greater than the voltage Vs across the secondary coil.
This is called a step-down transformer because it produces AC with a
lower voltage. When the secondary coil has more turns than the primary coil (i.e.
np/ns < 1), the voltage Vs measured across the secondary coil is higher than the
This is called a step-up transformer because it produces
input voltage Vp.
an AC output with higher voltage. Figure 7.2.3 is a simplified diagram showing
the change in magnitude of the output voltage Vs compared to the input voltage
Vp for these two types of transformers.

Identify the relationship


between the ratio of the
number of turns in the primary
and secondary coils and the
ratio of primary to secondary
voltage.
Vp

Vs

Worked example
Figure 7.2.3 The simplified graphs show

QUESTION

the AC output of a step-up


transformer (blue line) and
a step-down transformer (red
line) in the secondary coil of a
transformer. The input voltage
in the primary coil is shown for
comparison (black line).

Calculate the number of turns required in the secondary coil of a transformer to produce
18.5V AC from 230V AC if there are 100 turns in the primary coil.

SOLUTION
Using:

Vp
Vs

np
ns

V
ns = np s
Vp

18.5
Substituting Vp = 230 V, Vs = 18.5V and np = 100 gives: ns = 100
230
= 8 turns
and rearranging to make ns the subject gives:

Transformer efficiency and design


The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or
destroyed, but can be converted from one form to another. This means that the
amount of energy you put into a transformer must equal the amount you get
out. This is true for all transformers, but some of the energy that went into a
transformer is always converted to heat. It is for this reason that transformers
are never 100% efficient.

Compare step-up and stepdown transformers.


Solve problems and analyse
information about transformers
using:

Vp
Vs

np
ns

137

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people
Efficiency is often expressed as a percentage and can be determined using the
following equation:
useful power output
Efficiency (%) =
100
total power input
The losses of energy that occur within a transformer cause the useful electrical
power output to be less than the power input. We saw in Chapter 4 that power is
the rate at which energy is converted and can be determined using the following
relationships:
V2
P = IV, P = I2R and P =
R
where P is electrical power in watts (W), I is current in amps (A), V is potential
difference (or voltage) in volts (V) and R is resistance in ohms ().
In formulating the equation:
Vp np
=
Vs ns
we assume that there are no losses; that is, that transformers are ideal.
We will
continue this assumption whenever we do calculations for transformers, but it is
important to consider transformers in a more realistic way, to understand their
losses and design considerations.
Using the equation above, we can determine another relationship for a
transformer that illustrates the changes in current. In an ideal transformer the
power input in the primary coil (Pp) and the power output in the secondary coil
(Ps) would be:
Pp = IpVp and Ps = IsVs

Neon lights

eon lights are one very


visible application of
transformers. Typically about
25000 volts are required to
excite the gas in a neon tube, so
a step-up transformer is used to
convert the voltage from 230V
AC. In Figure 7.2.4, the red light
is produced by neon gas and the
violet-blue light is produced
by argon.

Figure 7.2.4 Neon and argon


discharge tubes

138

Rearranging and substituting into the relationship above gives:


I s Pp np
=
I p Ps ns
Pp = Ps for an ideal transformer, so:
I s np
=
I p ns

This illustrates that both the voltage and the current output of a
transformer change with respect to the input. We have therefore gained another
insight into the workings of transformers. By inspecting both equations:
Vp np
I s np
=
and
=
I p ns
Vs ns

we can see that


for a step-up transformer (ns > np), the transformer increases
for a
the voltage but decreases the current of AC electricity. Alternatively,
step-down transformer (ns < np) the voltage decreases but the current increases.
Lets see how this situation satisfies the law of conservation of energy.
Since energy (in joules) must be conserved and power (in joules per second) is
the rate at which energy is converted, then power must also be conserved if no
energy is being stored in a transformer. As power is equal to the product of the
current and voltage:
Pp = Ps and IpVp = IsVs

motors and
generators
As we already know, the voltage is changed in a transformer and, for the above
relationship to hold, the change in current must be inversely proportional to the
change in voltage. We have already shown that this is the case by deriving the two
expressions:
Vp np
I s np
=
and
=
I p ns
Vs ns
Combining these expressions gives:
I s Vp
=
I p Vs

This expression shows that current and voltage are inversely proportional.
For example, in a step-up transformer Vs is larger than Vp so Vp/Vs must be less
than 1. In this case, Is/Ip is also less than 1. This means that Is is less than Ip.
We now see that transformers obey the law of conservation of energy
when they alter the current and voltage of AC electricity. For an ideal transformer,
the input power is equal to the output power and this is maintained by the inverse
relationships between input and output current and voltage.
These findings explain the design features evident in Figure 7.2.5, which
shows a step-down transformer. The increase in current in the secondary coil is
the reason a larger diameter wire is used for the secondary coil.
As discussed in Chapter 5, larger currents produce greater losses due to
resistive heating. The amount of heat Q produced by resistive heating is
proportional to the resistance of the material R and the square of the currentI
as shown by Joules law:
Q = Pt = I2Rt
where Q is in joules, power P is in watts or joules per second (Js1), I is in
amps, R is in ohms and t is in seconds (s). So we see that larger currents produce
more heat.
The resistance of a metallic conductor is described by the following equation:
l
R=
A
where is resistivity, l is length and A is cross-sectional area. This equation shows
that resistance in a wire is proportional to its length and inversely proportional to
its cross-sectional area. So, by increasing the diameter of the wire in the secondary
coil of the transformer (Figure 7.2.5), the resistance is decreased and this
minimises resistive heating.
resistive heating is one of the mechanisms
We have now identified that
responsible for energy losses in all transformers. The transformer shown in Figure
7.2.5 is a very common style of transformer in household appliances because it
minimises another loss mechanismflux leakage. The transformer in Figure
7.2.5 has a central iron core around which the primary and secondary coils are
The overall shape of the iron core acts to contain and direct the
wound.
magnetic flux from the primary coil through the secondary coil. This ensures that
the maximum amount of flux passes through the secondary coil and therefore
maximises induction in the secondary coil. If a significant amount of flux did not
pass through the secondary coil, then energy would not be transferred and could
be lost by other mechanisms.

Explain why voltage


transformations are related
to conservation of energy.

secondary
coil
primary coil

Figure 7.2.5 A step-down transformer in which


the coils are wound around a
central laminated iron core

Gather, analyse and use


available evidence to discuss
how difficulties of heating
caused by eddy currents in
transformers may be overcome.

139

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

a
primary coil

cross soft iron core


section
I

increasing
magnetic
flux

secondary
coil

b
solid core

increasing
magnetic
flux
eddy currents
cross section

c
laminated
core

eddy current
cross section

Figure 7.2.6 (a) A simple model of a


transformer. (b) Large eddy
currents are set up in the core.
(c) Smaller eddy currents are
set up in a laminated core.

The Sounds
of AC

f you ever get a chance to see


a large industrial transformer
you will probably hear it hum.
This is the sound of the
laminations in the core vibrating.
As the direction of 50Hz AC
output alternates back and forth,
the magnetic field within the
core also changes direction. The
alternating magnetic flux exerts
forces on the core laminations
and causes them to vibrate.

140

The remaining mechanisms for losses in transformers are sometimes referred


The first of these is loss due to magnetic hysteresis as the
to as core losses.
magnetic field continually changes direction. We were introduced to this effect
in our discussion of induction cooktops (see Chapter 5 Physics Feature p 108).
In induction cookware hysteresis served a useful purpose in heating food, but in
a transformer we wish to minimise the effect. This can be done by making the
core of a transformer from a magnetically soft iron that does not stay magnetised
once an external magnetic field is removed. Magnetically soft iron is therefore
used in transformer cores to reduce heat loss through magnetic hysteresis. This
soft iron is also used in the rotors of motors and generators and in the stators of
AC motors to reduce losses due to magnetic hysteresis.
The other type of core loss in transformers is resistive heating due to
eddy currents. To reduce this effect, the soft iron cores of transformers are made
from thin laminated sheets that are electrically insulated from each other. Figure
7.2.6a shows a simple set-up of two coils that would act as a transformer. This
diagram shows a moment in time in which the current in the primary coil is
producing an increasing magnetic flux in the direction indicated. In accordance
with Lenzs law, currents would be induced in both the secondary coil and as
eddy currents in the iron core (Figure 7.2.6b). To minimise the energy lost as
heat due to these eddy currents, the core is made from thin laminations (Figure
7.2.6c) that are electrically insulated from one another. This minimises the
magnitude of the eddy currents and therefore the amount of heat lost through
resistive heating.
We have now seen that transformers come in many shapes and sizes, but they
all have the same basic structure. They contain a magnetically soft, laminated
iron core and two coils of insulated wire. Large transformers can be up to 99%
efficient, but there are always some losses as heat. These losses, although small in
proportion, can affect the performance of a transformer, if allowed to build up.
In small transformers, air removes heat by convection, but in large transformers
oil is used (Figure 7.2.7). The oil is passed through cooling tubes and heat is
dissipated to the air. This type of transformer is used in electrical substations and
at power plants as part of the distribution of electricity to the community. We
will explore this more in the next section.

low voltage
terminals

high voltage
terminals
oil tank

laminated core
low voltage coils

high voltage coils

cooling
tubes

Figure 7.2.7 An industrial transformer used in the transmission of electricity

motors and
generators

Checkpoint 7.2
1
2
3
4
5
6

Identify a device that uses a transformer and outline the role the transformer plays in the operation of this device.
Define step-up and step-down transformers.
Explain why transformers do not work with DC electricity.
Calculate the voltage produced by a transformer for which np/ns is 0.01 and the input voltage is 12V.
Recall the law of conservation of energy and analyse its application to the operation of a transformer.
Identify the losses that occur in transformers and outline the design features that minimise these losses.

7.3 Electricity generation and


transmission
PHYSICS FEATURE

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 7.2

Activity Manual, Page


58

Edison and Westinghouse

n the late 1800s a rivalry developed in the US over


the type of electricity that should be generated.
Thomas Edison (18471931) had established a
system based on DC electricity. It was primarily used
for household lighting and Edison had patents on
much of the technology involved. One of the major
drawbacks of this system was that it had to be
distributed at the voltage used in households, as
transformers could not be used with DC to easily alter
the voltage and current. Transmission therefore
required large currents, and this limited the distance
DC could be transmitted because of the huge power
losses as a result of resistive heating. This meant that
power stations had to be dotted all over a large city
and distribution was not practical in rural areas.
When Edison was establishing his system there
was no viable alternative to DC. Nicola Tesla
(18561943), an employee of Edison at one stage,
eventually developed AC motors and generators.
The patents for these were promptly purchased by
George Westinghouse (18461914). Alternating
current had the advantage that voltage and current
could be changed using transformers. It could
therefore be generated at low voltages and converted
to high voltages for transmission using low currents.
This allowed transmission over long distances

Figure 7.3.1 (a) Thomas Edison and (b) George Westinghouse


with acceptable energy losses, and made AC more
economical.
Edison embarked on a campaign to discredit the
use of AC and promote it as unsafe. To do this he used
an AC generator to publicly electrocute animals,
including an elephant. The showdown between
Edisons DC and Westinghouses AC came when a
proposal was put forward to generate hydroelectricity
at Niagara Falls. Several designs were considered,
including those from Westinghouse and Edison.
Westinghouse was awarded the contract and, due to
its many advantages, AC electricity was eventually
adopted as the standard worldwide.
Gather secondary information on the competition
between Westinghouse and Edison to supply
electricity to cities.

141

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

AC power generation and delivery

Figure 7.3.2 A coal-fired power station


a

C
B

three phase
output

stator
N

A
S

neutral

Current or EMF

b
+
0V

B
10

20

30

40

Time
(ms)

Figure 7.3.3 (a) A three-phase generator. The DC


output is fed to the rotating magnet via
slip rings (not shown). The ends of each
of the three stator coils are connected
togetherthis becomes the neutral.
(b) The other ends carry the high voltages,
which are one-third of a cycle apart.
Explain the role of transformers
in electricity substations.

142

Today, more than 99% of the worlds electricity is generated as AC.


Most of the electricity generated in New South Wales is produced by
burning coal in a power plant like the one shown in Figure 7.3.2.
Heat from the burning of coal in these facilities is used to produce
steam. This steam is used to turn turbines, which are connected to large
generators that produce electricity. These generators typically produce
three-phase 23kV AC at 50Hz. Figure 7.3.3 shows the main features of
a three-phase generator used in a power station. Once generated,
electricity is transmitted to consumers through a vast network, such as
the one summarised in Figure 7.3.4.
The most common use of this energy is in our homes. It arrives there
in wires above your street or below your feet in underground cables. In
order to get there efficiently, electricity goes through the following steps
on the way to your home.
The 23kV 50Hz output voltage from a power stations generators is
passed through step-up transformers to produce 330kV or even 500kV
AC. High voltages mean low currents and this reduces power losses
during transmission due to the resistance of the lines. Large transmission
lines are used to transport this electrical energy over long distances to a
terminal substation. Fuel sources for power stations are typically a long
way from major population centres, so this long-distance transmission is
essential.
At the end of the transmission line, step-down transformers in
a terminal substation convert the voltage to 132kV or 66kV for
transmission to zone substations (see Figure 7.3.5). Higher voltages are
less important for these shorter transmission distances. As the voltages
decrease, the effort required to insulate each wire from the others
decreases and so does the cost involved.
At zone substations this power is again stepped-down using
transformers. Most commonly it is converted to 11kV AC and
distributed into communities.
Typically, transformers on power poles finally step-down the AC to
400V and 230V for industrial and household use respectively. These
voltages are low enough so that discharges cannot occur through air
within appliances, and the insulation of wires from each other is easy
and economical.
A typical power pole in a suburban street resembles the one shown
in Figure 7.3.6. Three of the four main wires shown carry the three
phases produced in the power plants generator (see Figure 7.3.3). The
other wire is the neutral that completes the circuit. The potential
difference between neutral and a single phase is 230V. The difference
between any two of the three phases is 400V. A single phase and the
neutral are connected to each household and all four wires deliver
three-phase power to industry (see Figure 7.3.4).

motors and
generators

step-up transformers
GENERATION

POWER STATION
23 kV
50 Hz

330 kV or 500 kV
AC transmission

HIGH VOLTAGE
TRANSMISSION LINES
TRANSMISSION

TERMINAL
SUBSTATION
132 kV or 66 kV
AC transmission

step-down transformers
132 kV & 66 kV AC
SUB-TRANSMISSION

ZONE
SUBSTATION

11 kV
AC distribution
step-down transformers
11 kV AC
DISTRIBUTION

400 V and 230 V


AC distribution

pole step-down
transformer

CONSUMER

household
single-phase
230 V AC

3 2

230 V
400 V

factory
three-phase 400 V AC

Figure 7.3.4 A typical electricity supply network in New South Wales


143

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

four wires carrying


three-phase AC and
the neutral wire

insulator

Figure 7.3.5 An electricity substation

Figure 7.3.6 A power pole in Marrickville, Sydney. Note that the four
main wires are not insulated. They are spaced far
enough apart to stop discharges occurring. They are
insulated from the pole by small ceramic insulators.

PHYSICS FEATURE
Transformers in the Home

he use of transformers does not end when


electricity is fed into your home.
The
components of many household appliances require
higher or lower voltages than the 230V available from
the wall socket. A good example is the microwave
oven. The component within a microwave oven that
produces the microwaves typically requires thousands

of volts, while the control circuits and control panel


on the front only use small voltages. This means that
a microwave oven would require both step-up and
step-down transformers to supply the power for its
components.
Discuss why some electrical appliances in the
home that are connected to the mains domestic
power supply use a transformer.

Power losses during transmission and distribution


Discuss the energy losses that
occur as energy is fed through
transmission lines from the
generator to the consumer.

In order to deliver electrical power efficiently across NSW the power loss between
The main
the generator and the customer must be as small as possible.
losses during transmission result from the resistance in the transmission wires and
the induction of eddy currents. First, lets look at losses due to resistance.
Using a relationship we have seen before:
P = I2R
we see that power loss P in transmission lines is proportional to the resistance R
and the current I squared. Therefore, if we double the resistance in transmission
wires we would double the power loss. But if we double the current we increase
So obviously, we want the resistance in
the power loss by a factor of four.
transmission wires as low as possible but, even more importantly, we want to use
a relatively small current. This is achieved using transformers to step-up AC to as

144

motors and
generators
high a voltage as practical. During this process the current is reduced to a
minimum.
Another way to illustrate why we want to reduce transmission current comes
from another relationship we saw earlier:
l
R=
A
where is resistivity, l is length and A is cross-sectional area.
This equation shows that the resistance R of a wire is proportional to its
length l. This means that, as the distance of transmission increases, the resistance
also increases. A typical resistance for one type of high-voltage transmission line
is about 0.4 ohms per kilometre. We can see that if large currents are used,
transmission will quickly become uneconomical over the hundreds of kilometres
typically required. A large proportion of the energy generated would be lost as
heat due to resistive losses. The best solution is again to minimise the current
being transmitted.
The two previous paragraphs highlight the importance of transformers in the
distribution of electricity. Transformers can readily step-up voltages and in doing
so they minimise the magnitude of the current involved. They can also step-down
the voltage when required to a value suitable for the consumer. This ability of
transformers has changed modern society enormously, and we will take a closer
look at this soon.
l
also shows us that the resistance of a wire is inversely
The equation R =
A
proportional to its cross-sectional area A. So making the diameter of the wire
larger will reduce its resistance. Unfortunately, thick copper wires are very heavy
and require larger structures to support them. Larger structures cost more money,
so a compromise is required. Aluminium is used as a conductor in high-voltage
transmission lines. Although it has a higher resistance than copper, it is much
lighter, so the wires have a larger diameter to reduce resistance without
being too heavy.
Losses during AC transmission also occur due to the formation of
eddy currents. The constantly alternating current in transmission lines
produces a constantly changing magnetic flux. This can induce eddy
To
currents in nearby conductors and energy will be lost.
minimise this, transmission lines are held at a distance from metal
transmission towers by insulators. Losses due to eddy currents also
occur in the cores of transformers. Recall that these losses are
minimised by constructing these cores from thin laminations of
magnetically soft iron.

Gather evidence and analyse


secondary information to
discuss the need for
transformers in the transfer of
electrical energy from a power
station to its point of use.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 7.3

Activity Manual, Page


62

lightning protector
insulators

Transmission structures
A typical high-voltage AC transmission tower is shown in Figure
7.3.7. The three sets of wires carry the three phases generated in the
power station. As with lower voltage transmission (Figure 7.3.6),
high-voltage transmission lines are not coated with insulation.
These three sets of wires must be kept at large distances from
each other and from the metal tower. This not only minimises losses
due to eddy currents, it also minimises the chance of current
flowing through the air (electrical discharge) between conductors
or to the ground through the tower. In ideal conditions, 500kV

high voltage
transmission
lines

Figure 7.3.7 A high-voltage transmission tower


145

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people
Gather and analyse information
to identify how transmission
lines are:
insulated from supporting
structures
protected from lightning
strikes.

transmission lines must be approximately half a metre away from the tower that
supports them. In conditions in which the insulators are wet and covered in
pollution deposits, this distance must be greater. Typically, therefore, these wires
are held more than a metre from their supporting tower.
Figure 7.3.8 shows that insulators used for lines are typically long chains of
ceramic components. These components are disc shaped and have deep
corrugations on their underside. These features increase the distance any current
would have to travel in a discharge. The corrugations also minimise the chance
of pollution deposits settling on the surface and keeps some of the insulator dry
in wet weather.

High-Voltage DC Transmission

odern electronics have made the task of converting high-voltage AC to


high-voltage DC (HVDC) relatively simple, and HVDC transmission is now
economically viable for distances of more than several hundred kilometres.
These systems lose less power due to eddy currents induced in metal support
structures and require only two transmission lines. For short distances, these
savings do not offset the cost of the extra electronics, but if the transmission
distance is long enough, the savings are significant. HVDC is the method of
choice for transmitting electricity by underwater cables due to the excessive
losses involved. The Victorian and Tasmanian electricity grids are connected
across Bass Strait via a 400kV DC link called Basslink. This provides a twoway link along which electricity flows according to the demand at either end.
In this way, either state can make up for a shortfall of electricity in the other.

The impact of AC generators and transformers on society

insulator
arcing horn
cement
ball

conductor

Figure 7.3.8 (a) A technician services


insulators on a power line.
(b) Insulators used are
typically long chains of
ceramic components.

146

cup
porcelain

The development of AC generators and transformers in the 20th


century enabled the widespread availability of electricity. AC
generators efficiently convert the energy from sources such as coal
into electricity. Transformers enabled the efficient long-distance
transmission of this electricity to the households of whole nations.
These developments have arguably been the single greatest
catalysts for change in modern society.
Before the availability of household electricity, a significant part
of the daily ritual was the lighting of fires for cooking and heating.
Refrigeration was generally not available, so many perishable foods
could only be eaten fresh or when in season. None of the electrical
appliances that make our lives so convenient had been developed,
so much more time was devoted to chores and manual tasks.
As you can imagine, these differences would have resulted in a
very different life for the average citizen in a society without
electricity.
The availability of electricity has also had many positive and
negative effects on society.
The ability to transmit electricity efficiently over long distances
has allowed more people in large cities to live further from the

motors and
generators
city centre. It is not uncommon in modern society for people to commute
large distances to work.
People in most rural areas enjoy the same access to electricity as city dwellers.
This has improved their quality of life and allowed many people to remain in
country areas, who might have otherwise decided to move to the city.
The quality of life improved when electricity was affordable in every home.
This changed the way we live through the many appliances available. Many
of us find it hard to conceive a life without a refrigerator, television, DVD
player or computer.
Tasks performed by electrical machinery decreased the amount of unskilled
labour required and increased unemployment in certain parts of society.

Assess the effects of the


development of AC generators
on society and the
environment.
Discuss the impact of the
development of transformers
on society.

The widespread generation of electricity has also had a significant effect on


the environment.
When industry was able to move away from the power plants in city centres
this took pollution away from many peoples homes. This improved the
quality of their environment and improved their health.
The availability of electric power for heating has reduced the need to burn
wood or coal in houses, significantly improving air quality in large cities.
The use of hydro-electricity generation required the
construction of large dams. These destroyed the habitat of
many plants and animals. It also displaced many people from
their homes, and this continues today as our demand for
electricity grows.
Lightning protection
The construction of long-distance power lines also required
igure 7.3.7 shows a typical high-voltage
the destruction of habitat and increased rates of erosion
transmission tower. The two wires at the very
where vegetation has been removed.
top of the tower are called lightning protectors or
Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants requires
shield conductors.
These wires are placed
long-term storage and poses a threat to the environment if
above
the
tower
and
transmission
lines to
not contained.
significantly reduce the chance of lightning
The burning of fossil fuels for the production of electricity
has led to a significant increase in atmospheric carbon
striking the transmission lines. At regular
dioxide levels. Scientists believe this will have significant
intervals these wires are connected directly to
consequences in the near future through global climate
the ground. These connections act to transfer
change.
huge currents from lightning strikes directly to
The burning of fossils fuels has also produced pollutants
earth. This protects the transmission system
such as sulfur dioxide. This contributes to the formation of
from dangerous spikes in current and voltage,
acid rain, which can damage forests, aquatic life and manwhich can damage substation transformers and
made structures.
cause blackouts.

PHYSICS FEATURE

Checkpoint 7.3
1
2
3
4
5

Explain how transformers allow the transmission of AC power over long distances.
Identify the role of transformers in household appliances.
Outline the energy losses in high-voltage transmission lines and the steps taken to minimise them.
Describe how transmission lines are insulated from supporting structures and protected from lightning strikes.
Assess the impact of transformers and AC generators on society and the environment. Justify your answer.

147

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 7

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 7.1: AC and DC generators


Gather secondary information
to discuss advantages/
disadvantages of AC and DC
generators and relate these to
their use.

Research how AC and DC generators work then place the information that you
have found into a table outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each. Use this
information to create a list of applications that would benefit from using each.
Discussion questions
1 Compare the structure of AC and DC motors.
2 List applications for which AC and DC generators are preferred and
explain your choice.

Activity 7.2: Edison and Westinghouse


Analyse secondary information
on the competition between
Westinghouse and Edison to
supply electricity to cities.

Research the competition between Westinghouse and Edison to dominate supply


of electricity. Use this information to present a 5 minute speech on the topic.
Discussion questions
1 Outline the benefits of both DC and AC electricity supplies.
2 State reasons that Edison used to show that AC was more dangerous.

Activity 7.3: Power to the people


Gather and analyse information to
identify how transmission lines are:
insulated from supporting structures
protected from lightning strikes.
Perform an investigation to model the
structure of a transformer to demonstrate
how secondary voltage is produced.
Gather, analyse and use available
evidence to discuss how difficulties of
heating caused by eddy currents in
transformers may be overcome.
Gather and analyse secondary
information to discuss the need for
transformers in the transfer of electrical
energy from a power station to its point
of use.
Gather, process and analyse information
to identify some of the energy transfers
and transformations involving the
conversion of electrical energy into more
useful forms in the home and industry.

148

In this investigation, you will gather first-hand data to see how a


transformer works. You will then gather information from secondary
sources in order to look into how heating due to eddy currents are
overcome in a transformer.
Equipment: transformer with removable coils, power supply,
ammeter, voltmeter, connecting wires, light bulb.
Discussion questions
1 Outline the difference between a step-up and step-down
transformer.
2 Explain why the first-hand data does not fit the equation for
a transformer.
3 Outline methods used to overcome heating in transformers due
to eddy currents.

Chapter summary

The difference between motors and generators is that


motors use electricity to produce mechanical energy and
generators produce electricity from mechanical energy.
The main components of a generator are the armature,
coils, rotor, stator, split-ring or slip-ring commutator
and commutator brushes.
A current is produced in the rotating coil of a generator
due to the changing magnetic flux within the coil.
An AC generator contains a slip-ring commutator; a
DC generator contains a split-ring commutator.
The operation of a transformer relies on the changing
magnetic flux from the primary coil passing through the
secondary coil. This changing flux then induces an emf
and produces a current in the secondary coil.
The law of conservation of energy states that energy
cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one
form to another.
Transformers alter the voltage and current of AC
electricity. There is an inverse relationship between the
voltage and current produced by a transformer. If the
voltage is increased the current is decreased and vice
versa. This is in agreement with the law of conservation
of energy.
For an ideal transformer, the relationship between
the number of turns in the coils of a transformer and
the voltages in either coil is:
Vp np
=
Vs ns

motors and
generators

A transformer that increases the voltage of AC electricity


is called a step-up transformer; one that decreases the
voltage is called a step-down transformer.
Loss mechanisms in transformers include flux leakage,
resistive heating by eddy currents and hysteresis loses.
These are minimised by using a suitably shaped and
magnetically soft laminated iron core.
The increase in AC voltage and subsequent decrease in
current in transformers allows the efficient transmission
of AC power over long distances.
Household electrical appliances contain components
that require various voltages and it is transformers
within these appliances that provide these voltages.
The main losses in the transmission of electricity are due
to resistive losses and eddy currents. These losses are
minimised through appropriate isolation of conductors
and minimising resistance.
Transmission lines are isolated and insulated from their
supporting structures by insulating components called
insulators. The higher the voltage, the larger the length
of the insulator required to minimise the occurrence of
electrical discharge.
Transformers and AC generators have enabled the
widespread distribution of AC electricity. This has had
an enormous impact on society and the environment.
These impacts include changes in where many people
live, their quality of life, the nature of their employment,
their health and that of our environment.

Review questions
Physically speaking
Copy and complete the table below by adding a definition for each key term.

Term

Definition

Step-up transformer
Generator armature
Generator
Substation
High-voltage insulator

149

Generators and
electricity supply:
power for the people

Reviewing
A

X
B

Look at Figure 7.4.1. Identify each of the parts that have been labelled.

3
4

Explain how you could tell the difference between an AC and DC motor.

Outline methods of reducing energy lost along the path from generation
to consumer.

List the applications that would be best suited to using an AC generator


and those that would be more appropriate using DC generators.

State the features of AC and DC generators that make them appropriate


to their use.

a List the effects that generators have had on society and the environment.
b Assess these effects.

Give reasons why transmission lines need to be insulated from supporting


structures and describe how it is done.

1
2

Figure 7.4.1 An AC generator

Create a table to compare and contrast the parts and function of an electric
motor and a generator.
a Identify where energy is lost during the distribution of AC from the time
the electricity is generated to when it reaches the household consumer.
b Describe the energy that is lost.

10 Explain how transmission lines are protected from lightning strikes.


11 a Identify parts AE of the transformer in Figure 7.4.2.
b Identify the function of each of these parts.
c If np = 250 and ns = 750, identify if this is a step-up or a step-down
transformer.
A
changing magnetic flux

B
E

voltage Vp

voltage Vs

Figure 7.4.2 Parts of a transformer

12
13

Explain how current is produced in the secondary coil of a transformer.


Discuss how the number of turns in the coils of a transformer determines
the voltage in the secondary coil.

14 Show that Vp
Vs

np is true for a transformer that is 100% efficient.


ns

15 Outline the energy transfers for a transformer that is not 100% efficient.
16 Determine how currents in primary and secondary coils of a transformer
are related.

17 Explain why transformers are needed in order to bring electricity effectively


from a power station to the consumer.

18 Many appliances that are used in the home have a transformer attached to
their power cord. Explain the presence and need for these.

150

motors and
generators
19 Give examples of how transformers have impacted on the way in which
we live.

20 Discuss the production of eddy currents in transformers and the problems


that arise from them.

21 Outline methods of reducing the effects of eddy currents in transformers.

Solving Problems
22 Calculate the voltage in the secondary coil of a transformer that has 20 turns
in the primary coil and 300 turns in the secondary coil if the input is 240V.

23 Determine the efficiency of a transformer that has a turns ratio of 10:500,


an input voltage of 50V and output of 200V.

24 Complete the following table.


Coils in primary

Primary voltage (V)

100

320

240

50000

Coils in secondary

Secondary voltage (V)

Step-up or step-down

200
50
30500

240

25 Complete the following table by calculating the unknown quantities.

6
240

0.5

Current in secondary
coil (A)

Voltage in secondary
coil (V)

Turns ratio

240
2

12

0.1

1000

iew

Q uesti o

Voltage in primary
coil (V)

Re

Current in primary
coil (A)

151

The review contains questions in a similar style and proportion to


the HSC Physics examination. Marks are allocated to each question
up to a total of 30 marks. It should take you approximately
54minutes to complete this review.

Multiple choice

Look at Figure 7.5.2.

(1 mark each)
1 Two current-carrying wires of different lengths are

III

placed side by side as shown in Figure 7.5.1.


0.5 cm

The length of the 2m wire and the separation


between the two wires are doubled. Identify the
magnitude of the new force acting on each wire.
A F
B 2F
C 4F
D F/2

152

Figure 7.5.1

0.8 m

IV

2m

Identify the answer that has the correct part matched


to the correct role.

Part

Role

a
b

Armature

Provides magnetic field

Brushes

Commutator

Magnet

Allow current direction to change


within the motor
Maintains electrical contact without
tangling wires
Part of motor or generator that
contains current-carrying coils or
windings

Determine the output voltage from a household


transformer for which the ratio of windings is 40:500.
A 3000V
B 19V
C 0.05V
D 240V

Figure 7.5.2 A generator

II

Identify the answer that lists its parts correctly.

II

III

IV

Axis of
rotation

Force

Output
terminals

Current

Force

Current

Axis of
rotation

Output
terminals

Axis of
rotation

Output
terminals

Force

Current

Output
terminals

Axis of
rotation

Current

Force

A series of substations can be found in suburban


streets. The role of these substations is mainly to:
A step up the voltage.
B step down the voltage.
C boost the power being transmitted.
D add extra branches of wires to serve more houses.

motors and
generators

Extended questions
6

Describe the main features of an AC induction motor


and their roles. (3 marks)

Outline the procedure you followed in order to


investigate three factors that affect the generation of
an electrical current. (3 marks)

Discuss the how competition between Edison and


Westinghouse led to the efficient supply of electricity
to cities. (2 marks)

Explain how eddy currents are used in an induction


cooktop to cook a steak. (2 marks)

10

A wire is placed in an external magnetic field as


shown in Figure 7.5.3.
a Determine the direction of the force on the wire.
b Calculate the size of the force experience by
the wire. (3 marks)

12

Compare and contrast how the motor effect is used


in a galvanometer and a loudspeaker. (3 marks)

13

From the four chapters in this module, identify some


of the energy transfers and transformations involving
the conversion of electrical energy into more useful
forms in the home and industry. (4 marks)
Gather, process and analyse information to
identify some of the energy transfers and
transformations involving the conversion of
electrical energy into more useful forms in
the home and industry.

0.1 T magnetic field


within the shaded
area

1 cm

0.5 A

Figure 7.5.3 A wire in a magnetic field

1 cm

11

A simple electric motor has dimensions as shown in


Figure 7.5.4. The single coil carries a 0.1 A current
and sits within a 0.05 T magnetic field at 40 to
the vertical.
a Explain why the magnets in a real motor would
be curved.
b Determine the force generated by the motor
effect on each side of the motor.
c Calculate the torque in the motor. (5 marks)
axis of rotation
m

4c

4 cm
40

I
N

Figure 7.5.4 A simple electric motor

153

3
Context
Figure 8.0.1 Semiconductor integrated
circuits have produced laptop
computers that have much
more computing power than
even the most powerful early
military computers that used
thermionic devices.

154

from ideas to
Implementation
In just over 100 years we have gone from not knowing what constitutes matter to
understanding its subatomic structure. From the discovery of the mysterious
cathode rays came an understanding that these are fundamental particles that hold
solid matter together. Technology, such as X-rays, sprang from this discovery and
showed that their use in medical imaging enabled better patient diagnosis.
An understanding of the way electrons move in space and solids gave rise to the
plethora of electronic devices that have transformed our technology and way of life.
The control of electron motion in a vacuum resulted in early thermionic devices
(valves), such as the triode, to control the flow of current in electronic circuitry.
From these came television, radio, radar and the start of the modern electronic age.
The study of electron motion in solids resulted in miniature semiconductor devices
that replaced thermionic devices and enabled faster, more efficient and much more
sophisticated electronics, such as integrated circuits, to be made. These devices
are the backbone of all modern-day electronics, and include mobile phones and
computers, as well as electronics and instrumentation used in homes, hospitals,
industry, and in space.
The accidental discovery of superconductors (solid material through which
electrons travel unimpeded) may one day transform our technology yet again to
produce much faster computers and more efficient transportation, energy
production and transmission.

Figure 8.0.2 CDs and DVDs can be


used as spectrometers.

Inquiry activity
CDs: windows to viewing photons
Neon signs and most street lights use discharge tubes to create the many
different-coloured lights. In all of these, an electrical current is passed through
a gas at reduced pressure. The light from the glowing gas is characteristic of the
type of gas in the tube. A spectrometer is a device that separates the colours of
the spectrum of the gas by using the same principle of interference as early
research into X-ray diffraction. You can make your own spectrometer of visible
light at home simply by looking at the light reflected from the back of a CD
or DVD.
Ordinary light (from the Sun and an incandescent bulb) will show you the
continuous spectrum of white light that makes up the colours of the visible
spectrum. Wait until its dark and find lighting that does not use incandescent
lamps. Fluorescent tubes or bulbs are commonly available lighting that uses
electrical discharges. These are filled with mercury vapour and an inert gas.
1 Compare the spectrum of colours from a fluorescent lamp with that of an
incandescent lamp. Does it come in discrete colours or is it continuous like
the light from the incandescent lamp?
2 Use your spectrometer under the street lighting. Can you tell if this lighting
has the same gas as your fluorescent lamp or is it different? Or does it use
a mixture of gases?

155

From
cathode rays
to television
Mysterious rays

fluorescence, Geissler tubes,


cathode rays, cathode ray tubes,
discharge tubes, Aston dark space,
cathode glow, Crookes dark space,
negative glow, Faraday dark space,
positive column, anode glow,
cyclotron motion, oscilloscope, CRO,
timebase, sawtooth, blanking,
shadow mask

Try This!
Human-powered lighting
You can make a fluorescent light
tube temporarily give out flashes
of light by rubbing it quickly
with a piece of fur or wool in
a darkened room.

Figure 8.1.1 The high voltage produced


in static electricity will
temporarily light up a
fluorescent tube.
156

In todays terminology, cathode rays are collimated beams of


electrons in an evacuated vessel. They were given this label at
a time when not even the structure of the atom was known.
The discovery of these mysterious rays led to the discovery of the
electron, and paved the way not only for understanding the atom
but has also led to technology such as television, radar,
electronics, the oscilloscope and lighting.

8.1 Cathode ray tubes


Physicists began passing electrical current through air at lower pressure as soon as
the vacuum pump was invented by Otto von Guericke in 1650. Among the most
notable physicists to experiment with this was Michael Faraday, who, in 1838,
reduced the pressure of air in a glass vessel and applied a high voltage to
electrodes imbedded at each end of the tube. He noted that a narrow channel
of light was produced between the negative (cathode) and the positive (anode)
electrodes. Today we use this phenomenon to produce lighting in all shapes and
sizes (such as neon signs) and are generally known as discharge tubes.
In 1855 Heinrich Geissler (18151879), a master glassblower and skilled
Geissler, in collaboration
instrument maker, improved the vacuum pump.
with the physicist Julius Plcker (18011868), reduced the pressure in the tubes
to the point where the colours and patterns of the gaseous discharge disappeared
and were replaced by a green glow (also known as fluorescence) that came from
the glass. Moreover, Geissler was able to seal the tubes and maintain the very low
pressure such that a vacuum pump was no longer needed. Julius Plcker called
these tubes Geissler tubes.

from ideas to
Implementation
near vacuum

We now know that this green glow is caused by electrons leaving the
cathode and striking the glass at high speeds, causing it to glow, but during
Geissler and Plckers time this was a complete mystery. The name cathode rays
was first used by Eugene Goldstein, a German physicist, who coined the name
because it appeared that unknown beams were being emitted by the cathode.
The tubes displaying this property came to be known as cathode ray tubes.
The next great challenge for physicists at the time was to find the composition
of these cathode rays from their behaviour.

cathode

The cathode ray debate: charged particles or


electromagnetic waves?

Figure 8.1.2 A high voltage across

A variety of cathode ray tubes were made by a number of physicists in order


to study the behaviour of cathode rays and hopefully determine their nature.
In about 1875, the most prominent of these physicists Sir William
Crookes placed a piece of metal in the shape of a Maltese cross in the path of
the cathode rays as shown in Figure 8.1.3. This produced a sharp shadow on
the glass behind the cross, indicating that cathode rays travel in a straight line.
A magnetic field at right angles to the direction of the beam caused it
to deflect in the same way that negatively charged particles would deflect (see
Figure 8.1.4). Crookes concluded that cathode rays consisted of negatively
charged particles.
A moveable paddle wheel struck by the cathode rays started to rotate
and roll along the tube (see Figure 8.1.8). This implied that cathode rays carried
energy and momentum. Crookes also went on to show that the properties of
cathode rays did not depend on the type of cathode material.
From all of these experiments, the British physicists (such as Crookes)
concluded that cathode rays were beams of negatively charged sub-microscopic
particles. However, German physicists such as Heinrich Hertz (18571894)
carried out experiments that seemed to contradict the British viewpoint.
Hertz was unable to deflect the cathode rays with an electric field between
two parallel plates placed inside the tube. This suggested that cathode rays did
He also found that cathode rays could pass through very
not have a charge.
thin gold foil without damaging it. Thus Hertz and other German physicists
concluded that cathode rays had no mass or electric charge, and were possibly
a form of electromagnetic radiation.
There were also objections to the paddle wheel experiment because it was
thought that the cathode ray heated one side of a paddle, causing the gas in
contact with it to heat up and expand thus causing the paddle, to move.
The German physicists knew that electrical current can cause a magnetic
field, but they were unable to detect such a field around the cathode rays. These
contradictions strengthened their view of the wave nature of the cathode rays.
From a modern perspective, we can easily resolve the debate between
the British and German physicists. Cathode rays pass through a thin gold foil
because the space between atoms is much larger than the size of an electron, and
so a few atomic layers of gold allow the electrons to pass without much chance
of a collision with a gold atom. However, the atomic structure of matter was
unknown at the time. It was difficult to measure a magnetic field due to the
cathode rays because the current was extremely smalla very sensitive magnetic
field probe is needed to make such a measurement.

anode

+
glass tube

switch

high voltage
(variable)

electrodes at each end of an


evacuated glass tube causes
the glass near the positive
electrode (anode) to glow.
Explain that cathode ray tubes
allowed the manipulation of
a stream of charged particles.
Crookes tube
(cathode ray tube)
cathode

anode

mask holder

Figure 8.1.3 A Maltese cross placed in the


path of cathode rays produces
a sharp shadow on the glass
indicating that cathode rays
travel in a straight line.

cathode

collimator
S

anode

magnet

Figure 8.1.4 Cathode rays are deflected by


a magnetic field in the same
way that negatively charged
particles are deflected.
Explain why the apparent
inconsistent behaviour of
cathode rays caused debate
as to whether they were
charged particles or
electromagnetic waves.

157

From
cathode rays
to television

PHYSICS FEATURE
Anatomy of a discharge tube

anode dark

Aston
Crookes
space
nergy-efficient lighting, such as fluorescent
Faraday
tubes and neon signs, are known as discharge

+
tubes. These are evacuated glass vessels filled with
negative
gas at approximately 1% of atmospheric pressure
cathode
positive
anode
glow
and two electrodes at opposite ends of the tube.
glow
column
glow
A large potential difference between these
electrodes causes an electrical current to flow
Figure 8.1.5 A discharge tube showing the typical bright and
dark spaces
through the gas in the tube, resulting in colours
that depend on the type of gas and its pressure.
Bright regions in the discharge are areas where the
Figure 8.1.5 illustrates an operating discharge
electrons have sufficient energy to ionise the gas.
tube with the characteristic bright and dark spaces.
Some of the ions recombine with electrons, which
The Aston dark space next to the cathode is very thin
results in the emission of light. Not all atoms will be
and may go unnoticed. This is followed by the first
ionised. Some will simply have their electrons gain
luminous region called the cathode glow. Next is the
energy while remaining bound to the atom or
Crookes dark space and the negative glow (a luminous
molecule; this is known as excitation. All excited
region). The Faraday dark space follows this and is the
electrons will fall back to their previous energy state
largest of all the dark spaces. The largest luminous
and, in doing so, give out light. A minimum energy is
region, known as the positive column, follows and is
required to excite or ionise an atom or molecule.
the most prominent feature of the discharge. The
Many discharge characteristics are related to the
positive column may display periodic regions of bright
average
distance that electrons travel between
and dark spaces known as striations. Finally, there
colliding with the gas atoms or molecules. An increase
is the anode dark space and then the anode glow
in gas pressure leads to an increase in the density of
adjacent to the anode.
gas particles, and results in an electron travelling a
An operating discharge tube consists of a mixture
shorter distance between collisions, and vice versa.
of ions, electrons and neutral gas atoms. The
At low pressure, electrons have sufficient distance
discharge starts because energetic particles (such as
to accelerate and reach the required ionisation energy;
electrons and protons) continually stream from outside
however, they may strike the sides of the vessel more
the Earth and strike the surface and atmosphere.
often than they strike the gas. A minimum number of
This so called cosmic radiation can strike gas atoms
ionisations are required to sustain the avalanche of
and produce free ions and electrons in the discharge
electrons that maintain the discharge. Below a
tube. An electric field causes the free electrons to
minimum pressure, it becomes difficult to start an
gain sufficient energy to ionise gas atoms and
electrical discharge along the tube.
produce further free ions and electrons, which in
turn will accelerate to produce more ionisation. This
avalanche of ionisation is the way an electrical
+ Figure 8.1.6 Ions that strike the
discharge is started.
cathode liberate

To maintain the current through the discharge,


secondary electrons,
e
electrons (known as secondary electrons) are
which help sustain

e
the discharge.
continually ejected from the cathode surface by the
+
bombardment of ions that are attracted to it. These
secondary electrons cause further ionisation, which
PRACTICAL
results in further ion bombardment of the cathode
EXPERIEN
CES
surface, and the process repeats.

Activity 8.1

158

Activity Manual, Page


68

from ideas to
Implementation

Anatomy of a discharge tube


(continued)
At higher pressures there is a large density of gas
particles, so there is a high probability that electrons
will strike them. However, too high a pressure results
in very frequent electron collisions such that they do
not reach sufficient energy to ionise gas particles.
Thus, the electric field strength must be increased for
them to reach this energy. There is an optimum
pressure for starting a discharge at a relatively low
electric field.
Electrons in dark regions have not reached
sufficient energy to ionise or excite the gas. Figure
8.1.7 shows the potential difference and the
magnitude of the electric field strength between the
cathode and anode during a discharge. The largest
potential difference occurs between the negative glow
and the cathode. This is due to the ions being
attracted to the cathode and thus crowding around it.
Any electron outside this region will see an almost
equal amount of positive charge (from the ions) and
negative charge (from the cathode), resulting in a
much lower electric field between the negative glow
and the cathode.
Let us now trace the path of electrons from
cathode to anode. Electrons ejected from the cathode
are accelerated by the high electric field until they
have sufficient energy to cause the cathode glow. This
depletes the electron energy gained, so they must
accelerate once more through the cathode dark space
until they have sufficient energy to cause the negative
glow. Once again this process depletes their energy,
and they must accelerate through the Faraday dark
space until they gain sufficient energy to cause the
ionisation and excitation in the positive column.
Striations may result in the positive column for the
same reasons that other bright regions occur. However,
the electric field is more uniform in this region, so the
bright and dark regions (the striations) are uniformly
spaced. Again, electrons gain sufficient energy to
ionise and excite the gas, which causes a luminous
region and depletes the energy of the electrons. The
electrons then accelerate through a region (a dark
space) until they gain sufficient energy to excite and
ionise the gas, and so on.

Distance along the tube

Figure 8.1.7 The potential difference V and the magnitude of


the electric field strength E along the axis of a
discharge tube

Clear luminous and dark regions will be produced


if electrons that leave the cathode remain in step. This
is not possible in practice. Some electrons will strike
gas particles before others and have their energy
depleted sooner. This results in a spread of energies
as electrons move along the tube. Thus, the luminous
regions are diffuse and do not have well-defined
boundaries. If electrons become too out-of-step with
each other, then the striations will start to merge into
each other and will not be distinguishable from the
dark spaces between them. This may happen at too
high a pressure.
As the pressure is lowered, striations become more
widely spaced because there is a lower gas particle
density and the electrons will travel longer, on
average, before striking a gas particle. The converse
happens at higher pressures. Electrons strike gas
particles more frequently, so the striations will be
more closely spaced.
Finally, electrons are collected by the anode, which
also repels any ions, thus forming the anode dark
space. This is a region of high electric field that
causes the electrons to accelerate to the anode and
to excite or ionise the gas around it, causing the
anode glow.
As a rule, the positive column is less bright than
the negative glow and differently coloured. Helium
results in a red cathode glow, a green negative glow,
and a reddish-purple positive column. Neon produces
yellow, orange and red in the respective regions.
Nitrogen emits pink, blue and red. Each gas has a
characteristic set of colours, depending on the degree
of excitation that a bound electron experiences.

159

From
cathode rays
to television

cathode

anode

collimator

paddle wheel

Figure 8.1.8 Cathode rays caused a


paddle wheel to turn,
implying they carried both
momentum and energy.

+ + ++ +

+
cathode rays are not deflected,
and behave in the same way as light

Finally, the apparent lack of deflection of the cathode rays by an


electric field arose because the cathode ray tubes were not in a total vacuum
there was residual air in the tube, albeit at a low pressure. A fraction of the
electrons in the beams (cathode rays) struck air molecules and ionised them. As
shown in Figure 8.1.9, the positively charged ions are attracted to the negatively
charged plate and the electrons are attracted to the positively charged plate. This
essentially neutralises the charge on the plates and results in zero electric field
between them. Therefore, there can be no deflection of the cathode ray.
A resolution to the debate started with the French physicist Jean Perrin
(18701942), who showed that a metal plate acquired a negative charge when it
was struck by cathode rays. British physicist, Joseph John Thomson (18561940)
was able to definitively show that cathode rays can be deflected by an electric
field simply by producing an even lower pressure in the tubethus reducing the
number of ions. Moreover, he measured the charge to mass ratio of electrons.
To quantitatively examine his work, we must first revise the motion of electric
charges in electric and magnetic fields.

Figure 8.1.9 The cathode ray is not deflected by oppositely


charged plates because ions and electrons
neutralise the charge on the plates.

Checkpoint 8.1
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Activity Manual, Page


72

Describe Faradays work with cathode ray tubes.


Outline the contribution of Geissler and Plcker to the development of discharge tubes.
Recall the different types of cathode ray tubes that were developed to understand cathode rays.
Create a table that lists the observations and inferences made from each of the tubes.
List the evidence that led Hertz to believe that cathode rays were not particles.
Give a reason for not being able to detect the magnetic field from cathode rays.
Explain why Hertz could not detect a deflection when he applied an electric field across the cathode rays.
Describe how the debate about whether cathode rays were particles or waves was finally resolved.

Figure 8.2.1 The electric field lines for


(a) a positive point charge
radiate outwards, and
(b) a negative point charge
radiate inwards.

Discuss qualitatively the


electric field strength due to
a point charge, positive and
negative charges and oppositely
charged parallel plates.

160

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 8.2

8.2 Charges in electric fields


Any region in space in which there is an electric force on a charged object is
said to contain an electric field. The field points in the direction of the force on a
very small positive charge, known as a test charge. The magnitude of the field on
the test chargethe electric field strengthincreases in proportion to the force.
A way of visualising the electric field is to draw lines that indicate the
direction of the force on the test charge. Closely spaced lines mean higher electric
field strength and vice versa. Equally spaced lines indicate it is a uniform field.
Electric field lines are not real lines. They are used to give a qualitative
description of the field. We can only draw a finite number of lines. The field is
actually continuousit exists everywhere in space.
The electric field lines around a point positive or negative charge are shown
in Figure 8.2.1. Although this is a two-dimensional drawing, the lines actually
radiate outwards for a positive charge and inward for a negative charge in three

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Implementation
dimensions. The greatest repulsive or attractive force is in the region of the lines
with the closest spacingnear the charge in this case.
There are some guidelines for drawing electric field lines for two or more
charges:
The lines must begin on a positive charge and/or end on a negative charge.
Larger charges have more lines starting or ending on them.
Lines cannot cross.
Lines are always at right angles to a conducting surface.
The electric field lines for a pair of opposite and equal point charges are shown
in Figure 8.2.2. The number of field lines leaving the positive charge is equal to
the number of lines ending on the negative charge. The lines are radial at very
close distances to the charges. These lines are more closely spaced near the charges
to indicate higher electric field strength in that region.
The electric field lines between two equal charges q of the same sign are shown
in Figure 8.2.3. The region at the centre, between the charges, is where the
electric field strength is zero, because the electric fields of the two charges cancel
each other.
The field lines between two charged parallel metal plates of opposite sign but
Equally spaced and parallel
equal magnitude are shown in Figure 8.2.4.
lines indicate that the field is equal in magnitude and direction and is said to be
uniform. The field lines start to curve near the edges and become unevenly
spaced, indicating a non-uniform field (called the edge-effect).
b

Figure 8.2.2 The electric field lines for


two point charges of equal
magnitude but opposite sign

Identify that charged plates


produce an electric field.

negative

positive

Figure 8.2.3 Electric field lines around (a) two equal positive charges,
and (b) two equal negative charges

Electric field strength between parallel plates


A side-view of a uniform field between two plates is shown in Figure 8.2.5
(we have ignored edge effects).
The electric field strength E was defined as the ratio of the force F on a small
positive charge q given by:
F
E =
q
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 10.6).
It has units of force per unit charge, which in SI units is newtons per
coulomb or N/C or NC1. However, in practice neither the force between the
plates nor the charge on them is easily measured. We need a more convenient
expression in terms potential difference V between the plates.
The equal and opposite charges on the plates were produced by applying a
potential difference V between them, using a power supply or a battery. Energy
from the power supply moved the electrons from one plate to the other, resulting
in equal and opposite charges on the plates. Recall that it was shown that the

Figure 8.2.4 The electric field lines between


two oppositely charged parallel
metal plates
negative
+

E
+ + + + + + + + + + + positive

Figure 8.2.5 Parallel plates with a uniform


electric field between them

Describe quantitatively the


electric field due to oppositely
charged parallel plates.

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energy required to move an object in the direction of the force is known as work
and is defined as:
Work = force distance = W = F d
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 4.3).
In this case, the displacement d is the separation of the parallel plates.
Rearranging this formula as follows:
W
F =
d
and substituting this expression for force in the expression for electric field given
previously, we obtain:
W
E=
qd
Recall also that the work done on charges is related to the potential difference
V by the following expression:
W=qV
(see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 10.8).
Substituting this into the previous expression for electric field strength,
we obtain:
q V
E=
qd
E=

Thus, the electric field strength E is easily calculated from the plate separation
d and the potential difference between them V. From this equation, you can see
that an alternative unit for the electric field strength is volts per metre (V m1).

Solve problem and analyse


information using:
F = qvBsin
F = qE
and
V
E=
d

Worked example
Question

e
E
+ + + + + + + + + + +
L

Figure 8.2.6 Two parallel plates with


a uniform electric field

V
d

Two parallel plates are separated by d = 1.0 cm and have a side length of L = 2.0 cm
(Figure 8.2.6). A potential difference of V=10V is applied between them.
An electron enters halfway between the plates with a velocity of v0 = 2.7 106 ms1
parallel to the plates.
Calculate:
a the electric field strength E between the plates
b the vertical force F experienced by the electron as it travels between the plates
c the acceleration of the electron
d the time it takes for the electron to travel the full length of the plates
e the vertical displacement of the electron just as it exits the plates
f the change in kinetic energy of the electron between its entry to and exit from
the plates.
Note that the electron charge e = 1.6 1019 C, and its mass me = 9.11 1031 kg.

Solution
a The electric field strength E is given by:
V
10
E= =
= 1000 V m1 (or N C1 )
d 0.010
162

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Implementation
b The vertical force is given by:
F = e E = 1.6 1019 1000 = 1.6 1016 N upwards
c The acceleration can be obtained from Newtons second law (see section 3.4 of
in2 Physics @ Preliminary):
a=

F
1.6 1016
=
= 1.76 1014 m s2 = 1.8 1014 m s2 downwards
me 9.11 1031

d The motion of the electron is similar to projectile motion (see Module 1 Space).
There is only acceleration in the vertical direction. We are concerned with the
horizontal component of the velocity, which remains constant. Therefore, the time t
to travel the length L of the plates is given by:
t=

L
0.020
=
= 7.4 109 s
v 0 2.7 106

e The electron only accelerates vertically, so we use the acceleration from part c and
one of the SUVAT equations (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary section 1.3) to work out
the vertical displacement s given by:
1
s = ut + at 2
2

where u is the initial vertical velocity = 0 ms1, t is the time to travel the length of
the plates (from part d), and a is the vertical acceleration = 1.8 1014 ms2 (from
part c). Therefore, the displacement is given by:

1
s = 0 + 1.8 1014 (7.4 109 )2 = 0.0049 m = 4.9 mm
2
f The change in kinetic energy is due to the vertical deflection of the electron by the
electric field. This is work done by the field on the electron, and is given by:
W = e V

where V is the change in potential that the electron experiences due to its vertical
deflection s. The relationship between potential difference and the displacement s
is given by:
V = E s

Combining this with the above expression for work gives:


W = e E s = 1.6 1019 1000 0.0049 = 7.8 1019 J

Checkpoint 8.2
1
2
3

Explain the meaning of the arrows and spacing of lines when drawing electric field lines.
Calculate the electric field strength at the location of a charge of 1.28 1018 C that experiences a force of
1.1 1018N.
Sketch the electric field lines around:
a a point positive charge
b two oppositely charged parallel metal plates.

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8.3 Charges moving in


a magnetic field

r
F
+
+q

Figure 8.3.1 A positively charged particle


enters into a magnetic field
directed into the page and
undergoes anticlockwise
circular motion.
Identify that moving charged
particles in a magnetic field
experience a force.
Describe quantitatively the
force acting on a charge
moving through a magnetic
field:
F = qvBsin

A charged particle moving in a magnetic field will experience a force, as discussed


in Module 2 Motors and generators. Consider a magnetic field directed into the
pages (see Figure 8.3.1) and a positively charged particle that enters the field
The particle will experience a force as given by the rightfrom the left.
hand palm rule (refer to Module 2 Motors and generators). The force F on the
particle changes direction every time the particle changes direction, such that the
resulting motion is circular. This circular motion is known as cyclotron motion.
A negatively charged particle will undergo circular motion in the opposite sense.
The magnitude of the force F on a charge q that moves with a speed v
at right angles to a magnetic field B is given by:
F = qvB
The speed of the charged object remains constant even though its
direction changes. This means that the magnetic force simply changes the
direction of the particle without adding or subtracting energy, provided that the
magnetic field is constant. In general, the magnitude of the force on a charged
particle with a velocity at an angle with respect to the magnetic field is given by:
F = qvBsin
Note that a particle that is parallel to the field ( = 0) does not experience
a force. A charged particle that enters a magnetic field at an angle other than
= 0 or 90 travels in a spiral along the magnetic field (also known as helical
motion), as shown in Figure 8.3.2. However, the component of the velocity at
right angles to the field is still circular.
A particle of mass m with charge q enters a uniform magnetic field B at an
angle and a speed v. Recall from the Module 1 Space that the force directed
towards the centre of circular motion is known as the centripetal force. In this
case, the centripetal force is the magnetic force; that is:

centripetal force = magnetic force

Solve problem and analyse


information using:
F = qvBsin
F = qE
and
V
E=
d

mv 2
= qvB sin
r
where r is the radius of curvature of the particle.
Rearranging this expression, we obtain the following expression for the radius:
mv
r=
qB sin
c

b
+

v sin

v
+
B

v
v cos

Figure 8.3.2 (a) A proton enters a magnetic field at an angle . (b) The component of the velocity at right angles to the field undergoes circular motion.
(c) The total motion is helical along the magnetic field.

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Implementation
Worked example
Question
Protons are occasionally ejected from the Sun at high speeds towards the Earth. These can be
caught in the Earths magnetic field and are trapped along magnetic field lines in a region
known as the Van Allen belt. A proton travelling at a speed of v = 1.0 107 m s1 strikes the
Earths magnetic field at an angle of 30 at a distance of 3000 km above the surface where
the magnetic field B = 3.5 105 T. Assume that the Earths magnetic field at this distance
is uniform. The charge on a proton is 1.61019 C and it has a mass of 1.671027 kg.
a Calculate the magnitude of the force on the proton.
b Calculate the radius of curvature of the proton.
c Determine if the cyclotron motion of the proton will cause it to come in contact with
the Earth.

Solution
a The magnitude of the force is given by:

F = qvB sin = 1.6 1019 1.0 107 3.5 105 sin 30 = 2.8 10 17 N

b The radius of curvature r is given by:


r=

mv
1.67 1027 1.0 107
= 6.0 103 m
=
qB sin 1.6 1019 3.5 105 sin 30

c No, the protons cyclotron motion will not cause it to come in contact with the Earths
surface, since the cyclotron radius is 6 km and the proton is 3000 km above the surface.

Checkpoint 8.3
1
2

Outline what will happen to a negative charge moving to the left at right angles to a magnetic field that is
directed out of the page.
Calculate the magnitude of the force experienced by an electron that travels at right angles to a magnetic field
of 2T at a speed of 3 ms1.

8.4 Thomsons experiment


In 1897 Joseph John (JJ) Thomson not only provided a definitive resolution
to the debate about whether cathode rays were particles or electromagnetic waves,
but he also measured the charge to mass ratio of the main constituent of cathode
raysthe electron.
Thomsons cathode ray tube is shown schematically in Figure 8.4.1. Cathodes
rays (electrons) were accelerated from the cathode to the anode, which consisted
of two anodes aligned along the axis of the tube and separated by a small distance.
Each anode had a horizontal slit cut into it so that cathode rays could pass through.
The separation of the anodes produced a flat beam that passed between two
parallel plates and struck the end of the tube, which had a fluorescent screen
painted on the inside surface. The beam produced a well-defined narrow
horizontal line on the screen.

Outline Thomsons experiment


to measure the charge/mass
ratio of an electron.

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magnetic field
electromagnet
cathode rays

large
voltage

Figure 8.4.1 Thomsons cathode ray tube


apparatus for measuring the
charge to mass ratio of electrons

fluorescent
screen

cathode
anodes

electromagnet

charged plates

The parallel plates deflected the beam vertically upwards by placing a positive
charge on the top plate. A magnetic field (using an electromagnet outside the tube)
was applied at right angles to the electric field and the direction of the beam. The
direction of the magnetic field was such that it deflected the beam downwards.
Adjusting the magnetic and electric forces such that they were equal and
opposite resulted in the beam passing through undeflected.
We now quantitatively describe this experiment and how it leads to the charge
to mass ratio of the electron.
Equating the electric to the magnetic force on a particle with a charge q and
speed v in a magnetic field B and an electric field E, we obtain the following
expression:
Magnetic force = electric force
qvB = qE

From this we obtain an expression for the speed:


E
v=
B
Recall that the relationship between the magnetic force and centripetal force
(see section 8.3) is given by:
mv 2
= qvB
r
This enables an expression for charge to mass ratio to be obtained:
q
v
=
m rB
Substituting the expression for v into this equation:
q
E
= 2
m rB

Thomson was able to calculate the radius of curvature r from the deflection of
the beam on the fluorescent screen when the electric field was switched off and
magnetic field switched on. He could calculate the magnitude of the electric field
E because he knew the spacing d of the plates and the potential difference
V between them, and made use of the relationship E=V/d. Finally, knowing the
number of turns in the wires of the electromagnet and the current flowing through
it, he was able to calculate the magnitude of the magnetic field B.
Thomson found that the charge to mass ratio always came to:
q
= 1.76 1011 C kg 1
m
regardless of the cathode material, indicating that a fundamental particle was
being emitted. This, in essence, marks the discovery of the electron. In 1891,
the Irish physicist George Johnstone Stoney (18261911) suggested that the
fundamental unit of electricity be called an electron6 years before Thomsons
publication of his now famous experiment.
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from ideas to
Implementation

Checkpoint 8.4
1
2

Explain the purpose of Thomsons experiment.


Describe how Thomsons experiment obtained the charge to mass ratio of the electron.

8.5 Applications of cathode rays


A cathode ray oscilloscope (or simply oscilloscope or CRO)
is a device used to measure the variation of voltage in time
across an electrical component. Both the CRO and TV have
elements in common with Thomsons original cathode ray
tube apparatus. Here we are not referring to the new plasma
or LCD television sets, but the older style scanning electron
beam sets.

Cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO)


The display screen of a cathode ray oscilloscope, as seen by
the user, is shown in Figure 8.5.1. Despite the many knobs
and switches on its front control panel, the CRO simply
displays a real-time graph of voltage (y-axis) versus time (x-axis).
The oscilloscope has had many uses by scientists and
Figure 8.5.1 The display screen and the control
technicians in the design and operation of electronic and
panel of a cathode ray oscilloscope
electrical equipment. The way this real-time graph of voltage
versus time was achieved can be understood by looking at the
path of electrons
horizontally
electron gun
main components inside the CRO. A schematic diagram of a
deflecting plates
bright spot
cathode
anode
CRO (see Figure 8.5.2) consists of an electron gun, horizontal
on screen
and vertical deflection plates and a fluorescent screen.
where
heater
electrons hit
The electron gun (see Figure 8.5.3) produces and
accelerates the electron beam. It consists of a heater, cathode
fluorescent
screen
and anode. The heater is a wire filament with a large enough
current flowing through it so that it reaches a high temperature.
vertically deflecting plates
Electrons in the wire then acquire enough energy to escape the
wire and enter the region between cathode and anode. They accelerate toward Figure 8.5.2 A cathode ray oscilloscope deflects
an electron beam with vertical and
the anode and pass through a hole at its centre. The shape of the anode and its
horizontal electric fields between
separation from the cathode enables a narrow and focused beam of electrons to
parallel plates.
travel to the fluorescent screen. Some electron guns can become more
sophisticated than the description given here, to achieve better focusing.
The horizontal deflection plates cause the beam to sweep horizontally across
the fluorescent screen (from left to right) by periodically changing electric field
Outline the role of:
between the platesthis is the time axis. The speed at which the beam sweeps
electrodes in the electron gun
across the screen is controlled by the timebase dial on the front control panel of
the deflection plates or coils
the CRO. This changes the frequency at which the beam sweeps across the
the fluorescent screen
screen. The waveform of the potential difference across the horizontal plates is

in the cathode ray tube of
shown in Figure 8.5.4 and is commonly known as a sawtooth waveform.
conventional TV displays and
oscilloscopes.
Electronics in the CRO blocks the beam on its way back to the left of the screen
so that it doesnt retrace itself (known as blanking).

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to television
anode (positive)

electrons
'boil' off
the heated
cathode

collimator

electron
beam

heater
cathode (negative)
electrons attracted
to the positive anode

Figure 8.5.3 The components of an electron gun used in both cathode ray
oscilloscopes and CRT televisions

Time

sawtooth voltage for timebase

Time
sinusoidal vertical voltage

Figure 8.5.4 A sawtooth voltage waveform on the horizontal


deflection plates of a CRO sweeps the electron beam
across the screen to display the sinusoidal waveform
on the vertical deflection plates.

The vertical deflection plates cause the beam to move up or down in


synchronisation with an input voltage. For example, a sinusoidal voltage will
display a sinusoidal waveform (known as a trace) on the screen.

Television
electron gun
electron
beam

magnetic
coils

fluorescent screen

Figure 8.5.5 A television picture tube


showing the electron gun,
deflection coils and
fluorescent screen

168

Cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets used the principles of the cathode ray
tube for most of the 20th century. These are now being superseded by plasma
and liquid crystal display television sets, which use different operating principles
and allow a larger display area with a sharper image. However, the CRT
television holds quite a significant historical place in this form of
communication.
A schematic diagram of a colour CRT television set is shown in Figure 8.5.5.
Its basic elements are similar to those of the CRO. The main difference is the
method of deflecting the electrons. Magnetic field coils placed outside the tube
produce horizontal and vertical magnetic fields inside it. The magnitude and
direction of the current determine the degree and direction of electron beam
deflection. Recall your right-hand palm rule for the force on charged particles
in a magnetic field. The vertical magnetic field will deflect the electrons
horizontally; the horizontal field will deflect them vertically.
The picture on the screen is formed by scanning the beam from left to right
and top to bottom. The electronics in the television switches the beam on and
off at the appropriate spots on the screen in order to reproduce the transmitted
picture. However, to reproduce colour images, colour television sets need to
control the intensity of red, blue and green phosphors on the screen. Three
separate electron guns are used, each one aimed at one particular colour. The
coloured dots on the screen are clustered in groups of red, blue and green dots
that are very close to each other and generally cannot be distinguished by eye
without the aid of a magnifying glass. For this reason a method of guiding the
different electron beams to their respective coloured dots was devised. A metal
sheet, known as a shadow mask (Figure 8.5.6) and consisting of an array of
holes, is placed behind the phosphor screen. Each hole guides the three beams to
their respective coloured phosphor as the beams move horizontally and vertically.
Black and white television sets did not need the shadow mask since they had
only one beam.

from ideas to
Implementation
glass

deflecting
coils

mask

electron
guns

blue
beam
red
beam

R
G
B

vacuum

mask

phosphor dots
on screen

fluorescent
screen

green
beam

focusing
coils
fluorescent
screen

Try this!
Do not adjust your
horizontal!
If you have access to an old
black and white TV set or an old
style monochrome computer
monitor, try holding a bar
magnet near the front of the
screen and watch how the
image distorts. This occurs
because the magnetic field
deflects the electrons that strike
the screen. DO NOT do this with
a colour TV set. This can
magnetise the shadow mask and
cause permanent distortion of
the image and its colour. You
can move a bar magnet near the
back of a colour TV set to
deflect the electrons from the
electron gun and therefore
distort or shift the image
without causing permanent
damage to the TV set.

holes in
mask

electron
beams

Figure 8.5.6 A colour CRT television set has three electron guns
that will only strike their respective coloured
phosphor dots with the aid of a shadow mask.

Can an oscilloscope be used


as a television set?

he similarity between the cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO) and CRT


television suggests that a CRO can be used as a television set. In
fact, there have been some devices that have made use of the CRO as
you would a computer monitor. So, in principle, it can be used as a
television. One is then forced to ask why did they need to deflect the
beam in a television set with magnetic fields rather than with electric
fields as in the CRO?
In principle all television sets could be made in the same design as
a CRO; however, it is much easier and cheaper to deflect the beam with
a magnetic field on the outside of the tube rather than embed electrodes
in the glass and inside the vacuumthis is a little trickier. So now
another question arises: why not deflect the beam of the CRO using
magnetic fields, wouldnt it result in cheaper CROs?
Cathode ray oscilloscopes are precision instruments. The horizontal
sweep rate must be able to be increased to very high frequencies in order
to detect signals that change very quickly. Electric fields can be made to
change very quickly without significant extra power requirements.
However, a magnetically deflected system requires higher and higher
voltages with increasing horizontal and vertical deflection frequencies in
order to maintain the same current in the coils, and therefore, the same
angle of beam deflection thus having a significantly greater power
requirement. Cathode ray tube television sets, however, only operate at
fixed and relatively low scanning horizontal and vertical frequencies.
Thus it is simpler and cheaper for the mass market to deflect with a
magnetic field.

Checkpoint 8.5
1
2
3
4

Outline the purpose of a CRO.


List the main parts of a CRO.
Describe the role of each of these parts in the CRO.
State the similarities and differences between the cathode ray tube CRO and CRT TV.
169

From
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PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 8

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 8.1: Changing pressure of discharge tubes


Perform an investigation and
gather first-hand information to
observe the occurrence of
different striation patterns for
different pressures in discharge
tubes.

Connect a set of discharge tubes that are at different pressures to an induction coil
or high voltage power supply and observe the different striation patterns. The
patterns are hard to see unless the room is very dark.
Equipment: induction coil, connecting wires, discharge tubes at different
pressures, DC power supply.
Discussion questions
1 Draw a labelled set of diagrams showing the distinct patterns that occur
during the evacuation of the tube.
2 Describe the change in the striation pattern with changing pressure.

Activity 8.2: Cathode ray tubes evolve


Perform an investigation to
demonstrate and identify
properties of cathode rays
using discharge tubes:
containing a Maltese cross
containing electric plates
with a fluorescent display
screen
containing a glass wheel.
Analyse the information
gathered to determine the sign
of the charge on cathode rays.

170

Connect the induction coil or high voltage power supply to each of the cathode ray
tubes. Observe the behaviour of the electron beam under the influence of a
magnetic or an electric field. Note the result of placing a Maltese cross or a paddle
wheel in the path of the electron beam.
Equipment: induction coil, connecting wires, cathode ray tubes in the
following set-ups: Maltese cross, magnetic field (you can use a permanent
magnet), electric field, paddle wheel, DC power supply.
Discussion questions
1 List which experiment supported the idea that cathode rays were waves and
which supported the particle theory. State the observation that led to the
particle or wave conclusion.
2 Identify the properties of cathode rays that were determined from these
experiments.

Chapter summary


Cathode rays are electron beams in an evacuated vessel.


Cathode ray tubes are the evacuated glass vessels in
which cathode rays travel.
A discharge tube consists of an anode and a cathode at
the ends of a glass vessel filled with a low-pressure gas
that glows when a high voltage is applied between the
anode and the cathode.
Geissler tubes are sealed discharge tubes that do not
require a vacuum pump.
Cathode rays were thought to be negative particles due
to their direction of deflection when subjected to a
magnetic field.
Cathode rays moved a paddle wheel, implying they
carried momentum.
Initial inconclusive experiments led to the debate
between British and German scientists about whether
cathode rays consisted of particles or were a form of
electromagnetic wave.

from ideas to
Implementation

Thompsons experiment provided definitive proof of the


particle nature of cathode rays from their motion in
electric and magnetic fields. Moreover, he measured
the charge to mass ratio of the electron.
Cathode rays (or electron beams) are used in the
cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO) and cathode ray tube
(CRT) television.
The CRO is used to display a changing voltage in time.
The CRO deflects the electron beam with electric fields,
while the CRT television deflects them with magnetic
fields.
Colour CRT TV sets have three electrons beams
one for each of the coloured phosphors (red, green,
blue) on the screen.

Review questions
Physically Speaking

Reviewing

The items in the columns are not in their correct order. Copy
the table and match each of the definitions to the apparatus.

1 State the origin of the name cathode rays.


2 State one inconsistency of the behaviour of cathode

Apparatus

Definition

Oscilloscope

Shows that electrons travel in a straight line by


the shadow cast on the tube

Discharge tube

Uses magnetic fields to deflect electron beams

CRT TV

An instrument used to measure a time-varying


voltage

Maltese cross

A glass vessel containing gas at low pressure


that can be ionised by high voltage

rays and how it was solved.

3 Explain the significance of Jean Perrins experiment.


4 Describe the different components that constitute
a discharge tube.

5 Construct a table that names the features in a


discharge tube, their characteristics and positions.

6 Briefly explain how a discharge is started and


maintained in a discharge tube.

7 Describe how light is produced inside a discharge


tube, in terms of the electrons in an atom.

8 Explain what would happen when a positive charge


is placed in an electric field.

9 Estimate the difference in the force experienced by


a charge placed in an electric field when the charge
is tripled.

10 Describe how the force on a charge in a magnetic


field varies as the angle of entry changes.

11 Compare and contrast the method of producing an


image in a CRO and a CRT TV.

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to television

solving Problems

16 Calculate the acceleration of the electron while in


an electric field strength of 1000V. The mass
of an electron is 9.11 1031 kg and its charge is
1.60 1019 C.

12 Calculate the electric field needed for an electron to

CRT
a force of 3.2 1016N.
phosphor experience SED
electron
phosphor
electron
13 Calculate the work
done in order to move an object
gun
emitter
through 10cm with a force of 3N.

14 Consider Figure 8.6.1.

deflecting
yoke

17 Using the information from Question 16, calculate the


final velocity of an electron initially at rest, when it
had travelled a distance of 1.00cm.

spacer

18 Calculate the force on an electron that enters


a magnetic field of 0.1 T at a speed of
3.2 106ms1.

100 V

10 mm

0V

Figure 8.6.1 A positive charge between two plates


a Calculate the work needed to move a positive
charge from the bottom plate to the top plate.
b Calculate the electric field between these
two plates.
c Determine the direction of the force experienced
by the charge.
d Calculate the magnitude of the force experienced
if the charge is a proton.

15 As a charge moves through an electric field it gains

Re

iew

172

Q uesti o

kinetic energy. Obtain an expression for the kinetic


energy gained in terms of the electric field strength E
and the distance s travelled by the charge q.

19 a Calculate the radius of curvature of a proton that

enters a magnetic field 0.1T at 2.1 106ms1.


b Determine the magnitude and direction of the
force that is experienced by the proton.

20 Using the value that Thomson determined for charge


to mass ratio 1.76 1011 C kg1 and the electron
charge of 1.6 1019 C, determine the mass of
an electron.

from ideas to
Implementation

PHYSICS FOCUS
Where to from here?

cience has come a long way since the first


experiments with discharge tubes. The applications
range from a CRO in scientific fields to TVs for the
general public. But development has continued.
TVs have changed; more and more households now
have either an LCD or plasma screen TV. There are
also surface-conduction electron-emitter display TVs
(SED-TVs), which are still at the planning stage. These
use the traditional cathode ray tube method but
instead of having one electron gun for each colour
(red, blue, green), these sets have a surfaceconducting electron emitter (SCE) for each coloured
phosphor dot on the screenthere may be up to a
million of them!
Each SCE is made of two carbon layers with a gap
between them; one with a negative electrode, the
other with a positive electrode. A voltage of only
10 volts is needed to make an electron appear at one
side of the gap. These cross the vacuum to strike the
different phosphor dots lining the glass, resulting in
a glow.
The big advantage with this system is that the
matrix that controls the SCEs allows each pixel to be
activated simultaneously rather than in the traditional
method of one row at a time.

luminescence
black
matrix

colour filter
glass substrate

electrode
Va

phosphor

metal back film


electron beams electron emitter
glass substrate
Vf

Va

field
emission
nanogap

scattering
several nm

Figure 8.6.2 A diagram of a surface-conduction electron-emitter


display TV

H3. Assesses the impact of particular


advances in physics on the
development of technologies

H4. Assesses the impacts of


applications of physics on society
and the environment

H5. Identifies possible future directions


of physics research

But development is not only on the entertainment


front. Lighting has benefited from discharge tube
technology. Commercial fluorescent lights have been
around since 1938. They consist of a vacuum tube
containing mercury vapour, filled with an inert gas
such as argon and coated with phosphor powder.
Neon lights are similar but are filled with inert
gases such as neon, argon and krypton. These glow
with different gas-dependent colours, when an
electrical current is passed through them.
The most recent and economical is the compact
fluorescent light. Set to eventually replace all
incandescent lights in Australia, these lights are
basically a twisted fluorescent tube.
1 List the parts that are needed to make a discharge
tube.
2 Outline the necessity for having low pressure inside
the tube.
3 Compare and contrast the Geissler tube and the
fluorescent light.
4 Determine why fluorescent lights are more efficient
than incandescent lights.
5 List advantages and disadvantages of SED TVs.
Suggest why a design that seems to encompass all
the features wanted by consumers is not yet being
made commercially.
6 Explain the need for magnetic coils in CRT TV sets.
7 Give reasons why magnetic coils are not needed in
the SED TV.

173

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?
The wave nature of light

electromagnetic wave, transmitter,


receiver, standing waves, nodes,
anti-nodes, refraction, polarisation,
hertz, black body, classical theory,
ultraviolet catastrophe, quanta, photons,
spectrometer, Plancks constant,
photoelectric effect, photocathode,
photoelectrons, cut-off frequency, work
function, stopping potential, photocell,
dynodes, photomultiplier tube,
positron emission tomography (PET),
gamma photons

There was considerable debate about whether light was


a wave or a stream of particles, long before there was a
similar debate about cathode rays. However, by the
19th century there was growing experimental evidence
that light had wave properties, but the nature of these
waves was not known.

9.1 Hertzs experiments


on radio waves

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 9.1

Activity Manual, Page


75

174

A suggestion about the nature of light waves came from the Scottish physicist
James Clerk Maxwell (18311879). From his studies of Michael Faradays
experiments with electricity and magnetism, he derived four fundamental
Remarkably, these
equations that linked electricity and magnetism.
equations predicted that oscillating electric charges should produce a wave that
travels through space at the speed of light. This wave consisted of oscillating
electric and magnetic fields at right angles to each other, and was called an
electromagnetic wave.
Although Maxwells equations did not conclusively prove that light was an
electromagnetic wave, he strongly suspected that it was, because the predicted
speed of these electromagnetic waves was the same as the speed of light.
Moreover, his equations predicted that all electromagnetic waves travelled at the
speed of light, regardless of their frequency. Sadly, he died at age 48 before his
theory could be tested experimentally.
In 1887 Heinrich Hertz (18571894) was the first to experimentally verify
Maxwells electromagnetic wave theory. Hertzs apparatus was essentially a radio
wave transmitter and receiver. Today, almost all of us carry out a more

from ideas to
Implementation
sophisticated version of Hertzs experiment when we tune in to a radio station.
More importantly, we are able to select different radio stations by their
Hertz needed to make an antenna that transmitted
transmitting frequency.
at a specific frequency and a receiver that was tuned to that frequency. This was
not such an easy task when electronics were not available.
Hertz used a number of different transmitters and receivers during the course
of his experiments. Each successive apparatus was refined to give more accurate
results. The basic principle of Hertzs apparatus is shown in Figure 9.1.1.
The transmitter consisted of a pair of metal rods placed end to end with a small
gap between them. He used an induction coil to place charges of opposite signs
on these rods at very large potential difference, causing a spark to jump across the
gap. This caused electrical current to oscillate back and forth across the gap and
along the rods, thus producing an electromagnetic wave. The frequency of the
oscillation was determined by the dimensions of the rods. His first apparatus
produced a frequency of 50 million cycles per second, but he had no way of
The mathematics for calculating the frequency was known
measuring that.
during Hertzs time and so he was able to calculate this oscillation frequency.
The electromagnetic wave emitted by the transmitter was detected by one of
several receivers. The receiver shown in Figure 9.1.1 is a loop of wire with a gap.
The natural oscillating frequency of this loop had to match the frequency
of the transmitter. The dimensions of the loop and gap determined this frequency
and were accurately calculated by Hertz. The receiver showed that a spark jumped
across the gap even if it was placed many metres away from the transmitter, thus
indicating that an electromagnetic wave has been transmitted in air.

Hertz measures the speed of radio waves


Hertz was able to obtain a fairly accurate measurement of the speed
of his radio waves by a number of methods. His most famous paper
for measuring their speed in air relied on the phenomenon of standing waves.
Recall that two waves of the same frequency, wavelength and
amplitude can form standing waves if they overlap while
travelling in opposite directions (see in2 Physics @ Preliminary
section 7.4). Figure 9.1.2 shows a standing wave produced by a
rope tied to a wall. The nodes are points of zero amplitude and
no motion (thus the term standing wave). The points of
maximum amplitude are known as anti-nodes.

plate
rod

spark gap

to induction coil

metal loop

Figure 9.1.1 General schematic representation


of all of Hertzs apparatuses, which
consisted of (a) a transmitting
dipole antenna and (b) a receiver
of various designs
Outline qualitatively Hertzs
experiments in measuring the
speed of radio waves and how
they relate to light waves.

TRY THIS!
Any experiment in a thunderstorm

A
N

A
N

Figure 9.1.2 A standing wave on a rope (A = anti-node, N = node)

Hertz formed a standing wave of electromagnetic


radiation by reflecting the radio waves from a large flat zinc
plate, as shown in Figure 9.1.6, in which only a standing wave
of the electric field is shown. Hertz then moved his receiver
coil along this wave. A spark in the gap was produced at the
anti-nodes but not at the nodes. The distance travelled between
nodes or anti-nodes is half a wavelength. Doubling this

You can reproduce Hertzs experiment at home.


The next time there is a thunderstorm, turn on
your radio to the AM band (FM does not work for
this experiment). Turn the tuning dial to a
frequency at which no radio station is
transmitting and listen. You will hear crackles
and hisses of thunder near and far. Incredibly,
you can hear more crackling than the number of
lightning flashes that you see, because not all
lightning flashes are large enough to be visible.
This is the essence of Hertzs experiment
electromagnetic waves produced by the motion
of charge in lightning travel to your radio
receiver at the speed of light and are detected.
175

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

PHYSICS FEATURE
The evolution of Hertzs
experiment
Hertzs first apparatus
produced an
electromagnetic wave
with a wavelength of
6 m. There are
difficulties with
precision experiments
when using such a long
wavelength. You need to
be far enough away from
the transmitter so that
you are not simply
detecting a spark in your Figure 9.1.3 Heinrich Hertz was a
receiving antenna due to
skilled experimental
physicist.
purely electrostatic effects
as a result of being too
close to the high-voltage induction coil. Moreover, the
spark in the detecting antenna becomes very weak if
the distance between it and the transmitter is too
great. You have to contend with reflections from the
walls of the room and the objects within it. You must
also face the problem of tuning the transmitter and
receiver to the same frequency when there is no
instrument that can help you. Heinrich Hertz
overcame all of these issues.
Figure 9.1.4 shows the evolution of the different
types of transmitters and receivers used by Hertz. The
first transmitter consisted of zinc spheres at the ends
of the two rods (see Figure 9.1.4a). The antenna could
be tuned by sliding the spheres along the rods. The
receiver was a square loop of wire with a gap. The
second type of antenna, was tuned by changing the
area of the flat plates at the end of the rods (see
Figure 9.1.4b). The receiver was a circular loop with a
gap. The first two antennas produced a wavelength of
6 m. The next generation of transmitter and detector
(Figure 9.1.4c) was a smaller antenna and a similar
receiver (no loop) for a wavelength of 0.66m.

176

transmitters
a

receivers

6m

6m

0.66 m

Figure 9.1.4 The different types of antennas and receivers used


by Hertz include (a) a dipole transmitting antenna
with spheres and a square loop detector for 6m
wavelength, (b)a transmitting antenna with square
plates and a circular loop receiver for 6m wavelength
and (c)a small dipole antenna and similar dipole
receiver for 0.66m wavelength.
parabolic
reflector

to induction coil

transmitting
antenna

receiving
antenna

Figure 9.1.5 Hertzs transmitting and receiving antennas used


parabolic reflectors to direct the electromagnetic wave
without much loss of energy with distance.

Because these antennas were smaller, they were


placed in parabolic reflectors (Figure 9.1.5) to direct
and detect the beam without much loss. This
configuration produced the most accurate results.

from ideas to
Implementation
distance gave the wavelength . Hertz was able to calculate
the frequency f of the transmitted radio waves. The speed of
these waves c was then determined using the following
well-known wave speed formula:
c = f
Hertz used a different frequency and found that the
speed of the waves remained the same. Although this didnt
prove that the speed of these radio waves was the speed of
light, it was strong supporting evidence of Maxwells theory
1m
2m
3m
4m
5m
6m
7m
8m
Distance from the wall
that the speed of all electromagnetic radiation was the same.
Moreover, the speed of these waves was exactly the measured
Figure 9.1.6 Standing electromagnetic waves produced by reflection
speed of light.
from a large zinc plate enabled Hertz to measure the
Hertz also showed that the path of these waves
speed of light.
could be bent in the same way as light (refraction) by passing
them through a large asphalt prism. (See in2 Physics @
Preliminary section 8.3.)
Hertz showed that the electric and magnetic fields
Heinrich Hertz: Oops
of the radio waves had a unique direction in space, known as
polarisation. The electric field in Figure 9.1.6 points vertically.
ertz initially published his estimate of
the speed of electromagnetic waves as
When the detecting loop was at an anti-node and the direction
2 108 ms1. This relied on the accuracy of his
of the gap aligned with the electric field (vertically), then a
calculation of the oscillation frequency of the
spark jumped across the gap. When the loop was rotated so
transmitter. It was an embarrassing moment when
that the gap was at right angles to the electric field, there was
Poincar, a great French mathematician, wrote him
no spark.
a letter pointing out that he had not included a
It took great skill for Hertz to show that polarised
factor of the square root of 2 in his frequency
electromagnetic waves exist and have a finite speed equivalent
calculation. As a result, his actual measured speed
to the speed of light. Moreover, these waves shared other
was 2.8 108 ms1, which is only 7% off the
properties with light such as reflection and refraction. This set
actual value of 3108ms1. So dont feel so bad
the scene for the emergence of radio communications and
next time you make a numerical mistakeeven
hence the modern field of telecommunicationsmobile phone
great scientists do it.
technology is a sophisticated version of Hertzs experiment.
Hertz did all of this before his life was cut short at the age of
36. One of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a scientist
is to name a unit of measurement after them. The international unit of
frequency is no longer called cycles per secondit is known as the hertz.

Checkpoint 9.1
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Describe Maxwells contribution to understanding the connection between electricity and magnetism.
Describe an electromagnetic wave.
Recall the two predictions that Maxwell made about electromagnetic waves.
Describe how Hertz produced and controlled the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
Outline the requirements needed of the receiver in order for it to detect any given frequency.
Recall the definition of a standing wave.
Sketch a diagram of a standing wave in a rope, labelling a node and anti-node.
Outline how Hertz manipulated the equipment in order to determine the wavelength of the electromagnetic wave
produced.
Define polarisation and explain how Hertz showed that electromagnetic waves were polarised.
177

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

9.2 Black body radiation and


Plancks hypothesis

cause these metals to


radiate different colours
from dull red to yellow.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 9.2

Activity Manual, Page


78

TRY THIS!
Sun power
Use a magnifying glass to
focus the Suns rays to a point
on a wad of tissue paperit
should catch fire. Now colour
another tissue paper with black
ink, say from a felt-tip pen or
by dipping it in black ink.
Let it dry. Focus the Suns rays
onto this blackened tissue.
You should find that the paper
catches fire much more
quickly. This is because black
absorbs more of the incoming
radiation and therefore heats
up more quickly.

ultraviolet visible

infra-red

10

8
Intensity I (arb.units)

Figure 9.2.1 Increasing temperatures

The success of Maxwells theory of electromagnetic waves led other physicists to


apply it to the long-standing problem of radiation from hot objects. As an object
such as a piece of metal is heated, its temperature rises and it emits colours from
a dull red to orange and then to yellow, eventually becoming a bluish-white
(if the object has not melted). This is shown in Figure 9.2.1 for metal parts at
increasing temperatures.
The brightness or intensity (power radiated per unit area) of radiation
depends on both wavelength and temperature, as shown by the plot in Figure 9.2.2.
The maximum intensity of the curve shifts to smaller wavelengths as the temperature
is increased. This simply means that as an object becomes hotter, its colour changes
The challenge for physicists was to mathematically
from red towards blue.
predict the exact form of this curve using electromagnetic wave theory.
An object that absorbs all the wavelengths of the spectrum is referred to
as a black body absorber. In a strange twist of terminology, an object that emits
all the wavelengths of the spectrum is called a black body emitter. The curves
shown in Figure 9.2.2 are known as black body radiation curves. The Sun is close
to being a black body emitter and so its temperature can be determined from this
plot of intensity versus wavelength.
An object that is painted black is not usually an ideal black body, as some
radiation is always reflected from its surface. An ideal black body is generally
pictured as a cavity with a small hole (see Figure 9.2.3). Any radiation that enters
the hole becomes trapped inside the cavity and undergoes many reflections before
eventually being absorbed. Similarly, a heated cavity with a small hole acts as a black
body emitter. A small fraction of the radiation from within the cavity exits through
the hole, so the intensity of this radiation can be measured (see Figure 9.2.2).
A number of physicists attempted to calculate the mathematical relationship
for the black body radiation curve on the basis of electromagnetic wave theory
and thermodynamics (the physics of the movement of heat). We will call this

6
max

T = 6000 K

4
5000 K

max

4000 K

2
3000 K

1.0

Wavelength (m)

2.0

Figure 9.2.2 The intensity of light from a hot object is dependent on wavelength.
178

3.0

from ideas to
Implementation

These assumptions were radical ones since classical physics said that objects
can have any energy. Max Plancks theory defied this assumption. Incredibly,
Planck himself resisted this theory wholeheartedly for many years and thought
of it as nothing more than a mathematical convenience. However, this idea of the
quantised nature of energy heralded the start of quantum physics, which, together
with relativity, became the foundations of the modern physics we use today.

Einsteins contribution to quantum theory: the photon


Planck originally restricted his concept of energy quantisation to emitters in the
walls of a black body cavity. He still believed that the electromagnetic energy
radiated as a wave. However, in 1905 Einstein called into question this view of
He proposed that
electromagnetic radiation and of light in particular.
radiant energy is made of concentrated bundles of energy that later came to be
called photons. That is, Einstein had proposed that light is made of particles and
is not a wave, as shown in Figure 9.2.5.
Einstein assumed that such an energy bundle is initially localised in a small
volume of space, and that it remains localised as it moves away from the source
with velocity c (the speed of light). Ironically, we still express the speed of photons
in terms of the wave properties of frequency f and wavelength , as follows:

Figure 9.2.3 A spherical cavity with a hole


acts as a black body absorber
of radiation.

Identify Plancks hypothesis


that radiation emitted and
absorbed by the walls of a
black body cavity is quantised.

classical theory
Radiance

the classical theory approach. They assumed that the walls of the cavity were
made from tiny oscillators that emit electromagnetic wavesjust as Hertz had
Although this theory was able to
assumed for his transmitting antenna.
reproduce the shape of the graph for large wavelengths (see Figure 9.2.4), it failed
badly at the shorter wavelengths. Here the calculated intensity increased towards
infinity, which violated the law of conservation of energy. This was called the
ultraviolet catastrophe, because this started to occur at the ultraviolet end of the
radiation spectrum.
Max Planck (18581947) solved this problem in 1900 and was able to
mathematically reproduce the black body radiation curve by making the following
radical assumptions:
The emitters in the walls of the cavity can only have energies E given by
E = nhf
where f is the emitted frequency in hertz, h is a constant (now called the
Planck constant = 6.63 1034Js) and n is an integer. The energy E is
measured in joules.
The emitters can absorb or radiate energy in jumps, or quanta. Two
consecutive energy states of an emitter differ by hf.

experiment and
Planck theory

2
3
Wavelength (m)

Figure 9.2.4 The classical theory of black


body radiation could only
explain the long wavelengths,
Plancks theory could explain
all wavelengths.

c = f
a

y
E

B
z

photon with
energy hf

c
x
z

x
c

Figure 9.2.5 Light can be shown as (a) an electromagnetic wave


and(b) a collection of particles called photons.

Identify Einsteins contribution


to quantum theory and its
relation to black body radiation.
Explain the particle model of
light in terms of photons with
particular energy and frequency.
Identify the relationships
between photon energy,
frequency, speed of light and
wavelength:
E = hf
and
c = f

179

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

PHYSICS FEATURE
Max avoids a catastrophe

etailed understanding of Max Plancks


mathematical manipulations is beyond the scope
of this book. Even Planck, at first, looked on his
solution as nothing more than a mathematical act of
desperation. But we can gain some qualitative insights
into his theory by adopting a view that is slightly
different from that of his original work.
Imagine that the electromagnetic wave emitters in
the walls of the cavity produce standing waves, as
shown in the simplified one-dimensional
representation in Figure 9.2.7 in which the walls on
either side of the waves represent the walls of the
cavity. The intensity at a particular wavelength of the
radiation from the cavity is related to the energy in
the wave at that particular wavelength.
Both the classical theory and Plancks theory
assumed that the energy in the wave is equal to the
energy from the emitter. However, according to
classical theory, the average energy for each emitter
in the walls is kT, where k is a known constant (the
Boltzmann constant) and T is the temperature of the
walls in kelvin. Therefore, the energy per standing
wave is also kT. An understanding of the way intensity
is measured is important to understanding the
difference between the ultraviolet catastrophe and
Plancks radiation law.
An instrument known as a spectrometer is used
to measure the intensity of the black body radiation.
All spectrometers take in a small wavelength range
simultaneouslythey never measure just a single
wavelength. For example, a typically good
spectrometer cannot distinguish between wavelengths
of 6000.0 1010 m and 6000.1 1010 m. Note
from Figure 9.2.7 that the difference in wavelength
between two consecutive standing waves becomes
progressively smaller with increasing frequency. This
implies that at higher frequencies more wavelengths
can enter the spectrometer. Since each wavelength
contributes an equal amount of energy, and more of
them are entering the spectrometer with increasing
frequency, this will register as an increasing intensity
since the total energy entering the spectrometer
increases. As the wavelength becomes shorter, and
180

Figure 9.2.6
Max Plancks radical
hypothesis avoided the
ultraviolet catastrophe
and started a new field
of physics called
quantum physics.

Figure 9.2.7 A simplified representation of the standing waves


inside a metal cavity

therefore the frequency increases, the intensity will


increase towards infinity. This is the origin of the
ultraviolet catastrophe, and which, of course, does
not happen.
Planck restricted the energy of the emitters in the
cavity to integer multiples of hf, which is the same as
only allowing integer multiples of a certain frequency
f. This restricted the number of standing waves that
can occur. He also used a well-established law of
thermal physics that states that a particle is more
likely to have a lower than a higher energy. That means
there is a dramatic decrease in the number of emitters
with higher energies. As the frequency becomes very
high, and therefore the wavelength very short, these
two restrictions ensure that the number of emitters
with these higher frequencies becomes very small and
approaches zero. This registers as a diminishing
intensity in the spectrometer and, thus, reproduces
the actual black body radiation curve.

from ideas to
Implementation
Einstein assumed that the energy E of the photon is related to its frequency
f by the equation:
E = hf
where h is Plancks constant = 6.63 1034Js. In classical theory, the intensity
was determined by the electric field of the electromagnetic wave. In the new
quantum theory, it is the number of photons that determines the intensity.
He then used this idea to explain peculiar properties of metals when they are
irradiated with visible and ultraviolet light, known as the photoelectric effect.

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
E = hf
and
c = f

Worked example
question
A laser pointer emits light with a wavelength of 6.50 107 m. The power of the laser is
1.00 103 W.
Assume that Plancks constant h = 6.63 1034 Js, and the speed of light
c = 3.00 108ms1.
a Calculate the energy in each photon of the laser beam.
b Calculate the number of photons emitted each second.

Solution
a The energy E in a photon is given by
E = hf

where h is Plancks constant and f is the frequency of the light. We can calculate
the frequency from the following:
c = f

Therefore:
E =h

c
3.00 108
= 6.63 1034
= 3.06 10 17 J

6.50 109

The energy per photon is 3.06 1017 J.

b The laser has a power of 1.00 103 W. This means it emits 1.00 103 joules per
second. The number of photons per second is given by:
number of photons per second =

power
1.00 103
=
energy per photon 3.06 1017

= 3.27 1013 photons per second

Checkpoint 9.2
1
2
3
4
5
6

Describe what happens to the wavelength of light emitted as the temperature of an object is increased.
Define a black body.
Outline how classical theory described black body radiation.
Explain the ultraviolet catastrophe.
Outline the assumptions Planck used to solve the problem.
Explain Einsteins revolutionary thoughts on light.

181

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

9.3 The photoelectric effect


Describe Hertzs observation of
the effect of a radio wave on a
receiver and the photoelectric
effect he produced but failed
to investigate.

light
electrons

evacuated quartz tube


V

Figure 9.3.1 Electrons ejected from the


cathode register a current on
the ammeter, when the cathode
is struck by ultraviolet light.

gst
en
pla
tin
um

tun

zin

pot
ass
sod ium
ium

Maximum kinetic energy (eV)

f0
f

W
0.5

1.0

1.5

Frequency ( 1015 Hz)

Figure 9.3.2 The energy of photoelectrons


increases with increasing
frequency. No electrons are
ejected below the cut-off
frequency f0.
182

In his experiments on radio waves, Hertz noticed that the sparks were easier
to produce in the gap of the detector loop whenever it was directly exposed to the
ultraviolet light from the spark of the transmitting antenna. Placing an ordinary
glass plate between the transmitter and the detector reduced the brightness of the
spark, because ordinary glass blocks ultraviolet light. Replacing the glass plate with
a quartz glass plate caused the spark to be more easily produced, because quartz
glass allows ultraviolet light to be transmitted. He concluded that ultraviolet light
has an effect on the receiving loop, but he was not in a position to explain it.
However, he realised that it was an extremely important phenomenon and stopped
his wave research in order to study it. Hertz had discovered the photoelectric effect.
The photoelectric effect is the ejection of electrons from the surface of a
polished metal when light is shone on it. The metal on either side of the gap
of Hertzs detector loop emitted electrons when struck by ultraviolet light, which
assisted in producing the spark. Ironically, the results of this experiment were used
by Einstein to prove the particle nature of light, in contrast to Hertz who wanted
to prove its wave nature.
The photoelectric effect was studied by other physicists who used a cathode ray
tube, as shown in Figure 9.3.1. The tube either had a quartz window or was made
of quartz, which allowed ultraviolet light to pass through and strike the cathode,
known as a photocathode. This caused electrons, known as photoelectrons,
to leave the cathode and be collected by the anode, thus registering a current on
the ammeter.
The photoelectric effect was considered to be strange because:
No electrons are ejected from the metal below a certain frequency no matter
how intense the light. This is called the cut-off frequency f0. This is in
contrast to classical theory, which says that all electromagnetic waves have
energy and, if you wait long enough, all electrons can gain energy and leave
the surface.
The kinetic energy of the electrons increases as the frequency of the incident
light increases (that is, going from red to blue to ultraviolet and beyond) as
shown in Figure 9.3.2. However, there is no change in the electron energy if
the frequency of the incident light is constant but the intensity is increased.
Increasing the intensity simply increases the number of electrons but their
energy remains the same. From classical wave theory, an increase in intensity
should result in an increase in the energy of the electrons.
There is no delay between the time the light is shone on the surface and the
time the electrons are emitted, no matter how dim the light source. From
classical theory, electrons would require a length of time to gain enough energy
from a low-intensity light source in order to escape the surface of the metal.
Einstein explained the photoelectric effect by assuming that an electron is
ejected when it absorbs a photon that has energy E = hf. Although electrons
involved in electrical conduction in a metal are free to move around, they are still
bound to the metal as a whole. Energy is needed to separate them from the metal.
This energy is called the work function W. The value of W depends on the type
of metal. The photoelectric effect is mainly a surface phenomenon, so the surface
must be free of oxide films, grease or other surface contaminants. Einstein then
simply conserved energy by stating that:

from ideas to
Implementation

where Kmax is the maximum kinetic energy of the ejected electrons.


Rearranging this equation, we get:
Kmax = hf W

nte

ractiv

Photon energy = energy of ejected electron + energy needed by the electron to


leave the metal.
This is encapsulated in the equation:
hf = Kmax + W

M o d u le

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 9.3

Current

Activity Manual, Page


81
From this we can see that the kinetic energy is zero (that is, no ejected
electron) when hf = W. This accounts for the cut-off frequency. In addition, the
kinetic energy increases as the frequency increases. Increasing the light intensity
PRACTICAL
merely increases the number of photoelectrons and therefore increases the current
EXPERIENCES
emerging from the surface, but does not change the kinetic energy of the electrons.
Activity 9.4
Activity Manual, Page
88
Einsteins theory also accounts for the absence of a time delay, because all of the
energy is supplied in a concentrated bundle; it is not spread uniformly over a large
area, as in wave theory. In 1921 Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his
explanation of the photoelectric effect.
The graph in Figure 9.3.3 shows the dependence of the photoelectron current
on the applied potential difference between photocathode and anode. There are
two interesting features of this graph. The first is that there is a current even when
there is no potential difference. At this point, all the energy to produce the current
comes from the incoming photons. The second, and more interesting, feature is
Vstop
0
Potential difference
that the current is stopped by a certain negative potential difference placed on the
photocathode. Not surprisingly, this potential is called the stopping potential
Figure 9.3.3 Current of photoelectrons versus
Vstop and is used to determine the maximum kinetic energy of the electrons. The
applied potential difference
ammeter will read zero current when eVstop equals maximum electron kinetic energy.
between cathode and anode

Worked example
question
A zinc photocathode is irradiated with ultraviolet light. A voltage of 2.0 V is required to stop
the photoelectrons.
a Calculate the maximum kinetic energy of the photoelectrons. Use the electron charge
e = 1.6 1019 C.
b Calculate the wavelength of the ultraviolet light striking the photocathode, given the
work function of zinc W = 6.88 1019 J and Plancks constant h = 6.63 1034 J s.

Solution
a The maximum photocathode kinetic energy Kmax is given by:
Kmax = eVstop = 1.6 1019 2.0 = 3.2 1019 J
b Use Einsteins photoelectric effect formula: Kmax = hf W

where Kmax is obtained from part a, h is Plancks constant and the zinc work function
W = 6.88 1019 J. In order to calculate the wavelength we first require the frequency,
which is obtained by manipulating Einsteins formula:
f=

K max +W 3.2 1019 + 6.88 1019


=
= 1.52 1015 Hz
34
h
6.63 10

We can now use the relationship between frequency and wavelength:


c 3.00 108
= =
= 1.97 107 m
f 1.52 1015
183

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

Checkpoint 9.3
1
2
3
4

Define the photoelectric effect.


Outline Hertzs observations regarding the photoelectric effect.
Describe the significance of the cut-off frequency.
Complete the table below by listing the observation of the photoelectric effect that classical theory predicted
incorrectly.
Observation

Classical prediction

Electrons are not emitted from the surface of a


metal no matter how intense the light if the
frequency of the light is below the cut-off frequency.

5
6

Explain how the work function helps explain the measured energy of photoelectron.
Outline the significance of the stopping voltage.

photomultiplier outputs an electrical


impulse to electronic circuits

anode

dynode

incoming
light photon

photo cathode

electron

Figure 9.4.1 The photomultiplier tube uses


the photoelectric effect and can
multiply the number of electrons
produced by millions of times.
Identify data sources, gather,
process and present information
to summarise the use of the
photoelectric effect in photocells.

184

9.4 Applications of
the photoelectric effect
The photoelectric effect presents a convenient way of producing an electrical
signal from light. The apparatus used to produce the traditional photoelectric
effect (a vacuum tube with a photocathode and anode), called a photocell
(photoelectric cell), was not of practical use outside the classroom for
demonstrating the photoelectric effect. The current that was produced was far
too small for most applications.
A modification to this tube was made by placing a series of specially coated
surfaces, called dynodes, between the photocathode and the anode (see Figure
9.4.1). This is known as a photomultiplier tube. The dynodes are at successively
increasing positive voltage with respect to the cathode, so they attract the
electrons emitted by the photocathode. Each incident electron causes many other
electrons to be emitted from the dynode surface. This effect is multiplied at the
next dynode, and so on until a large number of electrons reach the anode and
register a relatively large current. This makes the photomultiplier tube extremely
sensitive to low levels of light, such that it is possible to detect individual
photons. The material from which the photocathode is made has been improved
and it can eject electrons from incident light ranging from the ultraviolet to the
infra-red range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
This high sensitivity of the photomultiplier tube makes it suitable for the
detection of small changes in light intensity. This has opened up many
applications in astronomy, nuclear physics, blood testing and medical imaging.
One method of medical imaging is called positron emission tomography
(PET). One use of this method is the imaging of tumour cells within the body.
The patient is injected with a short-lived radioactive chemical that contains
molecules that attach themselves to particular tissue types such as tumour cells.
This chemical emits two very high energy photons (known as gamma photons)
that exit the body in opposite directions and strike a ring of photomultipliers
around the patient (see Figure 9.4.2). Each photomultiplier has a material in

from ideas to
Implementation
front of it, known as a scintillator, that gives out flashes of light when the gamma
photons strike it. The flashes of light are converted to electrical signals by the
photomultiplier tubes. Computers calculate the time of arrival of the individual
gamma photons and are able to locate their point of origin in the body. In this
way, an image of the tumour cells can be generated from the different pairs of
gamma photons arriving from different locations.
Another use of the photoelectric effect is in night-vision devices used by
the military to see in almost total darkness by using the few photons coming
from stars.
If we broaden our definition of the photoelectric effect to mean any process
by which light is converted to electricity, without the need to eject an electron
from a surface, then we can include many devices made from semiconductor
materials. Although the electron stays within the solid, it becomes free from the
atom to which it was bound, when struck by a photon. However, one important
use of this type of photoelectric effect is the conversion of sunlight into electrical
energy in solar cells. More detail will be given on this topic in Chapter 10
Semiconductors and the electronic revolution.

detectors

positron-electron
collision

gamma rays
created

Checkpoint 9.4
1
2
3

Explain why the classic photocell is not used in commercial


applications.
Outline how a photomultiplier tube works.
Give examples of applications in which the photoelectric effect
is used.

Figure 9.4.2 (a) A positron emission


tomography scanner uses
photomultiplier tubes to obtain
(b) an image of tumour cells.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

from ideas to
Implementation

CHAPTER 9

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 9.1: Receiving radio waves


Produce sparks with the induction coil. Tune the portable radio to a position on the
AM band at which there is no radio station. Move around the classroom and listen
to the clicking sounds on the radio that are in step with the sparking from the
induction coil.
Equipment: induction coil, power supply, radio.

Perform an investigation to
demonstrate the production
and reception of radio waves.

Discussion questions
1 Explain how your experiment differs from the one carried out by Hertz.
2 Describe what you notice as you move further away from the coil.
185

Electromagnetic
radiation: particles
or waves?

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
Activity 9.2: Black body radiation

Identify data sources, gather,


process and analyse information
and use available evidence to
assess Einsteins contribution to
quantum theory and its relation
to black body radiation.

Gather information to assess Einsteins contribution to quantum theory and black


body radiation. Present your information in the form of a newspaper article relating
what you have found to people without scientific backgrounds.
Discussion questions
1 Define the UV catastrophe.
2 Outline how Planck explained the difference between observations and theory.
3 State Einsteins contribution to black body radiation.

Activity 9.3: Photocells


Identify data sources, gather,
process and present
information to summarise the
use of the photoelectric effect
in photocells.
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
E = hf
and
c = f

Part A: Gather information about how the photoelectric effect is used in photocells.
Part B: Set up an electrical circuit to investigate the energy that a photon of light
gives to an electron. You can carry out the experiment first hand or use a computer
simulation.
Discussion questions
1 List devices that can be classified as photocells and explain how their
working principle is related to the photoelectric effect.
2 Use the graph of electron energy (y-axis) and photon frequency (x-axis)
to calculate the Planck constant.

Activity 9.4: Einstein versus Planck


Process information to discuss
Einstein and Plancks differing
views about whether science
research is removed from social
and political forces.

Gather information about the differing views held by Planck and Einstein and use
it to write an informed paragraph on your views.
Discussion questions
1 Outline Einsteins and Plancks view of scientific research.
2 List political pressures on Planck and Einstein during the times of their
main discoveries, and assess the influence of these pressures on Plancks
and Einsteins research.

Chapter summary



186

Maxwells theory predicted that all electromagnetic


radiation travels at the same speed.
Maxwell strongly suggested that light is an
electromagnetic wave.
Hertz performed a number of experiments to
demonstrate the propagation of electromagnetic waves.
Hertz also measured the speed of electromagnetic waves
by causing them to become standing waves, then
measuring the wavelength, calculating the frequency
and using c = f.
A black body is an object that is capable of absorbing or
emitting all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Classical physics could not reproduce the measured


curve of intensity versus wavelength of radiation emitted
from a black body.
The ultraviolet catastrophe is a prediction by the
classical electromagnetic wave theory that the radiation
intensity from a black body becomes infinite at very
short wavelengths, which is false.
Max Planck was able to predict the black body radiation
curve by assuming that the energy of the oscillators in
the black body walls is quantised in integer steps of hf,
where h is Plancks constant and f is the frequency.
Planck thought that the quantisation of energy was only
a mathematical trick and not related to reality.

from ideas to
Implementation

Einstein realised that this quantisation was real and that


light is made of particles, each with a bundle of energy
given by hf.
The particle of light is called a photon.
The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons
from the surface of a metal that has been struck by light.

Einstein explained the photoelectric effect in terms of


the photon model of light.
The photoelectric effect has applications in all forms of
light detection, medical applications and the conversion
of light into electrical energy.

Review questions
Physically speaking

15 Discuss the significance of the work function in

Create a visual summary of the concepts in this chapter by


constructing a mind map incorporating the following terms
and equation:

16 What determines the maximum kinetic energy of

hertz, radio waves, quanta, photon, Maxwell, photoelectric


effect, black body, UV catastrophe, photomultiplier,
work function, Einstein, kinetic energy, threshold,
frequency, polarisation, E = hf

Reviewing
1 State the significance of Maxwells equations.
2 Outline the purpose of Hertzs experiments.
3 Outline the procedure followed by Hertz to determine
the speed of radio waves.

4 Describe how a standing wave is set up.


5 Explain how Hertz used standing waves to determine
the wavelengths of radio waves.

6 Outline how Hertzs results support Maxwells


predictions.

7 Describe the results that Hertz obtained to support


the idea of polarisation.

8 Recall the relationship between wavelength of


radiation and its intensity.

9 Outline how classical theory predicted the ultraviolet


catastrophe.

10 Explain the idea of quanta.


11 Explain how Einstein expanded on Plancks idea of

understanding the behaviour of photoelectrons.


a photoelectron?

17 What is a photomultiplier tube and how does it work?


18 Describe how the photoelectric effect can be used in
PET scans to detect tumours.

Solving problems
19 Calculate the energy of a photon of red light with
a wavelength of 656 nm.

20 Figure 9.5.1 is a graph of voltage versus frequency


of light.
a Convert the voltage scale to energy of
photoelectrons.
b Determine the cut-off frequency.
c Use information from the graph to determine the
work function of the material.
d Explain what will happen to the graph if the
intensity of light is increased.
e Explain changes in the graph if the cathode was
made of a different material.
f Calculate the Planck constant from the graph.
V0 (V)
3
2
1

quantisation of oscillators in a black body cavity.

13 Justify the use of quartz glass for the photoelectric


effect experiment.
the kinetic energy of the emerging photoelectrons.

0.75

1.0

f (1015 Hz)

Figure 9.5.1 Frequency versus voltage of light

iew

Q uesti o

14 Relate the frequency of light on a photocathode to

0.25 0.50

of the photoelectric effect.

Re

12 Discuss Einsteins contribution to the understanding

187

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution
Electronics transforms the world

valence electron, valence level,


conduction level, valence, conduction
bands, energy gap, band gap, forbidden
energy gap, solid state physics,
electron volt (eV), hole, doping, n-type
semiconductor, donor, p-type
semiconductor, acceptor, donor energy
level, acceptor energy level, extrinsic,
intrinsic, microprocessor, diode,
diffusion, depletion region, forward
bias, reverse bias, photovoltaic cells,
thermionic devices, transistors, plate,
triode, electronics, bipolar transistor,
emitter, collector, base, field-effect
transistors (FET), source, drain, gate,
MOSFET, integrated circuits

Figure 10.0.1 An old valve computer


weighed several tonnes
but had much less
computing power than
your mobile phone.
188

Electronics has transformed almost every aspects of modern life,


from television, computers and mobile phones to medical
diagnostics and treatment. The discovery of cathode rays led to
devices such as radios, televisions and computers. The earliest
computers, which used cathode ray tube devices, weighed
several tonnes and filled very large rooms. Today, a basic mobile
phone has much more computing power than the most powerful
early computer. This reduction in size (and power consumption)
came with the discovery of semiconductors. The working parts of
semiconductor devices are so small that a microscope is needed
to see their structure. An example of semiconductor circuitry is
the microprocessor, the brains of your computer. It is no larger
than a coin but contains millions of circuits.

from ideas to
Implementation

Figure 10.1.1 An abstract energy level


diagram helps visualise the
ionisation energy of an atom,
which would produce free
charges for an electrical current.

Energy

Energy

Electrical conduction occurs as a result of the flow of charge. Gases, which


are normally electrical insulators, are made to conduct large currents during
lightning strikes, due to the movement of ions and electrons created by the
ionisation of air atoms. Ionisation is the removal of the outer electron of an
atom, which is known as a valence electron. The energy required to remove this
electron is usually supplied by the electric field during lightning. In general, we
are not interested in the exact motion of the charges in a current, we just want to
know whether there will be electrical conduction. A simple and abstract way of
visualising whether there will be conduction in gas atoms is shown in Figure
10.1.1. The vertical axis is energy and the horizontal lines indicate the position
an electron can have. The lower line (or level), known as the valence level, is the
energy it has while being bound to the atom. The upper level, known as the
conduction level, is the energy it must acquire to become free and contribute to
electrical conduction.
Placing two individual atoms together will result in two pairs of these levels
Note that the levels are not at exactly the same energy
(see Figure 10.1.2a).
but become shifted slightly vertically with respect to each other. This odd
behaviour can be explained by the laws of quantum physics, which are beyond
the scope of this section. Basically, energy levels of electrons in close proximity to
each other are forbidden from being the same, so placing five atoms close
together results in five pairs of these lines, as shown in Figure 10.1.2b.
To form a solid we must place many atoms, say 1023, close together, and so
It is impossible to
we have 1023 pairs of energy levels (see Figure 10.1.3).
draw these individual levels because they are very close to each other and too
numerous. We simply represent them by two shaded areas called energy bands.
The lower and upper bands are labelled as valence and conduction bands
respectively. The energy gap between them is referred to as the band gap or
forbidden energy gap.
Electrical conduction in a solid occurs because some electrons have gained
enough energy to be in the conduction band and therefore become free
They are no longer localised to a particular ion but are shared by
electrons.
all ions in the lattice, since they are free to move throughout the solid. Unlike
conduction in a gas, the ions in solids are not free to move, so the only charge
carriers are the electrons.
Quantum physics determines that no electron can have an energy in the
energy gap. Moreover, only a fixed number of electrons are allowed per energy
level in the energy bands. When an energy level is occupied by the maximum
number of electrons allowed by quantum physics, we say that the level is filled.
Any further electrons will start to occupy the level above it until this new level is
filled, and so on until a whole energy band is filled.
Ordinary experience tells you that not all solids conduct electricity. All metals
are good conductors; however, materials such as glass and plastic are insulators.
There is also a third type of solid known as a semiconductor, such as silicon and
germanium, which conduct electricity but much less than metals. The energy
band diagram, shown in Figure 10.1.4, can be used to illustrate the difference in
the conductivities of these three types of materials.

Energy

10.1 Conduction and energy bands

Figure 10.1.2 Energy level diagrams for (a)


two atoms and (b) five atoms
in close proximity

conduction band
energy gap

valence band

Figure 10.1.3 The energy band structure


of solids

Identify that some electrons in


solids are shared between
atoms and move freely.
Describe the difference
between conductors, insulators
and semiconductors in terms of
band structures and relative
electrical resistance.

189

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution
a

c
conduction band

overlap

energy gap

valence band

Figure 10.1.4 Energy band diagrams for (a) a conductor, (b) a semiconductor and (c) an insulator

Compare qualitatively the


relative number of free
electrons that can drift from
atom to atom in conductors,
semiconductors and insulators.

The type of atom, the bonding between atoms and the number of valence
and inner electrons of an atom are some factors that determine the type of
energy band diagram for the resulting solid. This is the area of physics known as
solid state physics, which relies heavily on quantum physics. Figure 10.1.4a
shows an energy band diagram for conductors. There is no clear energy gap and
therefore no distinct conduction or valence band. We can say that the
conduction band is partially filled and therefore the solid contains free electrons.
The energy band diagrams for a semiconductor and an insulator are similar
The much smaller energy gap of the semiconductor
(Figure 10.1.4b, c).
distinguishes it from an insulator. The valence band of an insulator is full and,
due to the relatively large size of its energy gap, none of the electrons in the
valence band have enough energy to reach the conduction band. However, some
electrons in the valence band of the semiconductor can acquire enough thermal
The
energy to jump across the small gap into the conduction band.
number of conduction electrons that result is much less than for a conductor, so
a semiconductor is a much poorer conductor than a metal but a better conductor
than an insulator such as plastic or glass.

Checkpoint 10.1
1
2
3
4
5

Describe how gases, which usually have insulating properties, can be made to conduct electricity.
Describe why the energy levels of two neighbouring atoms are not exactly the same.
State why only electrons are charge carriers in solids.
Define the terms electrical conductor and insulator.
Describe how it is possible for electrons in the valence band of semiconductors to reach the conduction band.

10.2 Semiconductors
The size of the energy gap determines whether a solid is a semiconductor
or an insulator. A convenient unit for measuring the energy gap is the electron
volt (eV). This is a unit of energy and is related to the joule:
1 eV = 1.6 1019 J
Most semiconductors have an energy gap less than 5 eV. Insulators have
greater energy gaps. Examples of energy gaps for semiconductors and insulators
are given in Table 10.2.1. The most common semiconductors are silicon (Si) and
germanium (Ge).
190

from ideas to
Implementation
Some electrons in the valence band of a semiconductor will gain
enough energy from the ambient thermal (heat) energy in the solid to
jump up to the conduction band. This occurs readily at normal room
temperature. Heating a semiconductor further increases the number of
electrons jumping from the valence band to the conduction band, thereby
making the solid more conducting. For example, heating a piece of silicon
will lower its resistance. At absolute zero (T = 0K), there is no thermal
energy available for the electrons, all of which remain in the valence band;
therefore, at absolute zero the semiconductor behaves as an insulator.

Table 10.2.1 Energy gaps in electron volts of common


semiconductors at room temperature

Semiconductor crystal

TRY THIS!

Energy gap (eV)

Si
Ge
InP
GaP
GaAs
CdS
CdTe
ZnO
ZnS
Diamond

1.14
0.67
1.35
2.26
1.43
2.42
1.45
3.2
3.6
5.4

Semiconducting pencil
Graphite is a form of carbon that is used in lead pencils (there is
no lead in pencils, just graphite and clay, but we will refer to it as
the lead of the pencil). Graphite also behaves as a semiconductor.
Obtain a length of pencil lead (about 10 cm) and attach each end
to the probes of a digital ohm meter. It should measure units of
ohms. Now heat it (with, say, a match) and observe that the
resistance decreases. The resistance may decrease by up to 0.5
and it will be more for thinner leads.
This decrease in resistance is due to an increase in the number
of electrons jumping from the valence band to the conduction band.
The resistance will increase once more when the lead cools.

Electrons and holes


When an electron is excited into the conduction band, it leaves a vacancy in the
The hole
valence band. This vacancy is known as a hole (see Figure 10.2.1).
behaves like a positively charged particle and moves in the opposite direction to
the electron. In reality, the other electrons in the valence band move to fill the
vacancy, but in doing so they leave behind another vacancy, resulting in the
apparent motion of the hole. It is much simpler to treat the hole as a positively
charged particle than to track the motion of all the electrons that move in the
opposite direction. The magnitude of the charge on an electron and a hole are
Therefore, the
the same at 1.6 1019 C, but they are opposite in sign.
motion of both electrons and holes contribute to the motion of electrical
current.

Identify absences of electrons


in a nearly full band as holes,
and recognise that both
electrons and holes help to
carry current.

conduction
band

narrow
energy gap
v

Doping
At normal room temperature (300 K) the average kinetic energy of an electron is
about 0.026eV. However, the energy gap of silicon is 1.14eV. It would appear
that the electrons dont have enough energy to jump to the conduction band, so
why is silicon, or any of the other semiconductors listed in Table 10.2.1, slightly
conducting at room temperature? The answer is that 0.026 eV is an average
energy. This means there are some electrons that have a much lower energy and

valence
band

applied electric field


electrons

holes

Figure 10.2.1 Holes are created in the valence


band of a semiconductor when
electrons are excited up to the
conduction band.
191

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution

A hole in
a bottle

way of picturing the concept


of a hole in a semiconductor
is to consider a bottle that is
almost full of water with a small
air bubble underneath its closed
cap. Turning the bottle upside
down will cause the bubble to
move upwards. The question is:
did the bubble move up or did
the water move down? The
answer is that both are true, but
it is much simpler to follow the
motion of the bubble than
the more complex motion of the
water. In the same way, we
describe the motion of the hole
in a semiconductor rather than
the more complex motion of all
the valence electrons.

a
+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+5

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+4

+3

+4

+4

+4

+4

electron

192

hole

some that have a much higher energy. It is these higher energy electrons that
make it across the gap, but there are not many of them.
Physicists have found that the conductivity of semiconductors can be
improved by introducing impurities into the crystal lattice, a process that is
called doping. In order to understand how an impurity atom can improve the
conductivity, we must examine what happens at the crystal lattice level.
We will use silicon as an example, but similar explanations can be applied to
all other semiconductors. Silicon belongs to group 4 of the periodic table, which
means that the silicon atom has 4 electrons available for bonding with other
silicon atoms (see Figure 10.2.2a). Silicon can be doped with phosphorus P by
replacing a silicon atom with a phosphorus atom. Phosphorus is in group 5 of the
periodic table and has 5 electrons available for bonding, but it can only bond
with 4 atoms in the silicon crystal lattice. This leaves one electron unbonded (see
This semiconductor is called an n-type semiconductor.
Figure 10.2.2b).
(n represents the negative charge of the unbonded electron.) Impurities that
produce unbonded electrons are called donor impurities. These unbonded
electrons are weakly attached to their atoms and can easily be moved into
the conduction band by ambient heat, and thus can contribute to an electrical
current.
Similarly, silicon can be doped with boron, which belongs to group 3 and
therefore has 3 electrons available for bonding with 3 atoms of silicon. There is
no electron available for the fourth silicon atom to bond with and, as a result,
a vacancy in charge has been created, which we call a hole. An electron from a
neighbouring silicon atom can now jump across to fill this vacancy (see Figure
10.2.2c). This, in turn, creates a vacancy for the atom it left behind, and so can
be viewed as the movement of the hole. As already mentioned, a hole behaves
like a positive charge since it moves in the opposite direction to the electron. The
semiconductor behaves as though it has positive charge carriers and is therefore
called a p-type semiconductor. Impurities that produce a charge vacancy are
called acceptor impurities.
Note that both n- and p-type semiconductors remain electrically
neutral even though there is an unbonded electron or a vacancy is created. The
neutral impurity atoms were added to an already neutral solid, so the net charge
remains zero.
Both n- and p-type doping improve the conductivity of a semiconductor by
creating an excess of negative and positive charge carriers respectively. The
unbonded electron in n-type semiconductors needs a small amount of energy to
move to a different location. Similarly, very little energy is required to cause a
neighbouring electron to occupy the vacancy of a p-type semiconductor.
The energy-band diagram of an n-type semiconductor is shown in Figure
10.2.3. A new energy level has been created in the energy gap just below the
conduction band. This level is occupied by the unbonded electrons of the
impurities and is called the donor energy level. This level is very close to the
conduction band. The difference in energy between the two levels is usually
0.026 eV or less, and so most of the electrons in the donor level are able to jump
up to the conduction band at room temperature, making the semiconductor
much more conducting than the undoped crystal.
Figure 10.2.2 The silicon lattice (a) has no doping, (b) has been doped with phosphorus
and (c) has been doped with boron.

from ideas to
Implementation
The energy-band diagram for a p-type semiconductor in Figure 10.2.4 shows
that there is an extra energy level, called an acceptor energy level, near the
valence band. This level is full of vacancies (holes), allowing the valence electrons
to jump up and occupy these vacancies and therefore contribute to an electrical
current. The gap between the acceptor level and the donor (valence) level must
be equal to or less than 0.026 eV for conduction to take place at room
temperature.
A semiconductor is labelled as extrinsic if conduction is dominated by donor
or acceptor impurities. Otherwise, it is known as an intrinsic semiconductor.

conduction band

Identify differences in p- and


n-type semiconductors in terms
of the relative number of
negative charge carriers and
positive holes.
Describe how doping a
semiconductor can change its
electrical properties.

conduction band

donor impurity energy level

holes
acceptor impurity
energy level

valence band

valence band

Figure 10.2.3 Energy-band diagram of an

Figure 10.2.4 Energy-band diagram of

n-type semiconductor

a p-type semiconductor

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 10.1

Activity Manual, Page


91

Checkpoint 10.2
1
2
3
4
5
6

Distinguish between a semiconductor and an insulator in terms of the size of the energy gap.
Describe what is meant by a hole.
Describe doping in semiconductors.
Explain the difference between n-type and p-type semiconductors.
Identify elements that can be used to make n-type and p-type semiconductors.
Distinguish between acceptor and donor energy levels.

10.3 Semiconductor devices


Combinations of p- and n-type semiconductors can be used to make all modern
electronic devices, ranging from the simple remote control to the sophisticated
computer microprocessor. The basis of this technology is a result of the
properties of the junction between p- and n-type materials.

The pn junction
A pn junction is a p-type material joined onto an n-type material. In reality,
the pn junction is made from a continuous single crystal in which the
concentration of impurities has been made to change abruptly from p-type to
n-type as we cross the junction. However, to clarify the physics of the junction
region, we will assume that the p-type and n-type crystals are initially separated
and then brought together.
The pn junction is used as the most basic electronic device, the diode.
It allows current to move in only one direction, as shown in Figure 10.3.1.

193

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution
V

forward
bias

A
+

b
p

forward
bias
O

reverse bias

Figure 10.3.1 (a) A forward-biased diode and


(b) its symbol. (c) The graph
shows the current versus voltage
characteristics of a diode.

electric
field

depletion
layer

p-type

n-type
E
E
free
electrons

free
holes
fixed
negative
ions

fixed
positive
ions

Figure 10.3.2 The electric field in the


depletion region of the pn
region stops further diffusion
of charge.

194

The conventional current easily flows from p- to the n-type material when the
positive terminal of a power supply is connected to the p-type end of the device.
Reversing the connections of the power supply (positive connected to n-type and
negative to p-type) results in a very tiny reverse current, the current is essentially
stopped. The symbol for the diode is an arrow that indicates the direction of the
conventional current when the positive and negative terminals of the power supply
are connected to the p- and n-type materials respectively (see Figure 10.3.1b).
A key to understanding the physics of a pn junction is to first examine
the concept of diffusion. Free particles are in continuous random motion and
move from areas of high to areas of low concentration. For example, a drop of ink
placed in a beaker of water results in the ink particles slowly spreading outwards so
that the water becomes uniform in colour. This occurs because the point of origin
of the free particles is very small (drop of ink) compared with the rest of the
medium (beaker of water). So it is more likely that the particles will move to the
rest of the medium. This is diffusion and it is a property of all randomly moving
particles. The energy for the movement of these particles (kinetic energy) comes
from the ambient thermal energy. At a temperature of absolute zero there will not
be any diffusion.
Similarly, the holes in the p-type material and the electrons in the n-type
material are in constant random motion due to their thermal energies, resulting in
a uniform density of the charge carriers across their respective materials. When the
two crystals are brought into contact, electrons from the n-type crystal will
naturally want to diffuse into the p-type crystal, because the electron density of its
conduction band is lower. Conversely, the holes in the p-type region want to
This results in an
diffuse into the n-type crystal, as shown in Figure 10.3.2.
electrical current, which is quickly stopped because an electric field builds up from
the n to the p region, due to this charge separation, and stops the further flow of
charge. A large part of this diffusion region results in the combination of electrons
with holes, leaving it depleted of charge. This is known as the depletion region.
However, there continues to be an excess of electrons and holes on the p and n
sides respectively.
A depletion region is like two parallel plates with equal and opposite
charges on them, resulting in an electric field in the space between them, which
contains no charge.
The energy that created the electric field essentially came from the
thermal energy of the charge carriers. At a temperature of absolute zero (0 K),
there will not be enough energy for diffusion to occur and therefore no electric
field and no depletion region will be created.
Electrons that diffused across and combined with holes cannot easily
drift back since they lost energy as they fell into the holes. Similarly, holes that
diffused combine with electrons from the n-type material. The trapping of the
diffused holes and electrons has resulted in the conversion of thermal energy into
the electrostatic energy stored in the electric field region.
As shown in Figure 10.3.3a, connecting the positive and negative
terminals of a battery to the p and n sides of the junction respectively creates an
electric field opposing that in the depletion region. This lowers the junction
electric field strength and therefore allows further charge to diffuse across the
junction. A thin pn junction will enable the excess diffused charge to reach the

from ideas to
Implementation
metal terminals on either side of the junction, thus resulting in the flow of
current in the outside circuit. This type of connection to the pn junction is
known as forward bias. This also has the effect of reducing the width of the
depletion region.
Conversely, connecting the negative and positive terminals of a battery
to the p and n sides respectively, as shown in Figure 10.3.3b, increases the
electric field strength in the junction region. This will cause some of the diffused
electrons to travel back to the n region, setting up a small reverse current. This
type of connection is known as reverse bias. It also has the effect of increasing
the width of the depletion region.

Rectifiers

The pn junction or diode is used to convert AC to DC electricity in chargers or


power supplies for electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers. A
simple circuit, but not one that is used often, is shown in Figure 10.3.4. A
sinusoidal alternating voltage, say from the AC mains supply, is applied to the p
end of the diode. The output from the n end is the positive part of this signal.
The negative part of the AC voltage is blocked. A component consisting of
parallel plates (called a capacitor) at the output stores the positive charge and
helps smooth the output signal so that a DC voltage will result.
V

input

output
C

hole
flow
p-type

electron
flow

n-type

E
electron flow +

temporary
hole flow

electron flow

temporary
wide
depletion layer electron flow

p-type

n-type

E
+

Figure 10.3.3 (a) Forward-biased and


(b) reverse biased pn junctions

voltage smoothed

narrow
depletion layer

Figure 10.3.4 A rectifier circuit can be used as a power supply.

Light-emitting diodes (LED) and laser diodes


A current that passes through a forward-biased diode will lead to some
recombination of electron and hole pairs. This recombination occurs when
a conduction electron drops from the conduction to the valence band to occupy
a vacancy (the hole), as shown in Figure 10.3.5. This change in energy can
appear as heat given to the solid, or as the emission of light. The energy of the
photon hf is equal to the energy lost by the electron, which is the energy gap Eg
such that:
hc
E g = hf =

where Plancks constant h = 6.63 1034 Js, f is the frequency, c is the speed
of light and is the wavelength. Manufacturers of LEDs can control the
wavelength of the emitted light by controlling the size of the energy gap. Most
remote-control units around the home have an LED on the end that you point
towards a device. The LED looks like a very tiny plastic light blub, but works
very differently. The wavelength of these LEDs is usually in the infra-red range
of the spectrum and so is not visible to the eye. However, it is visible to most
types of digital cameras such as those in mobile phones and video cameras.

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 10.2

Activity Manual, Page


94

light emission
conduction
band
E = h
valence
band

hole flow

hole and
electron
recombine

p-type

electron flow
n-type

electron
flow

E = h
electron
flow

Figure 10.3.5 A forward-biased light-emitting


diode (LED)

195

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 10.3

PHYSICS FEATURE

Activity Manual, Page


96

Photovoltaic cellssolar cells

region is made thin enough so that most of the


olar cells use the pn junction to convert light
incoming light can be transmitted to the p-type region,
directly into electricity. They have the more formal
name of photovoltaic cells (or PVs). Very little greenhouse where photons are absorbed to create the conduction
electrons. These are swept up into the nregion by the
gas emissions are associated with PVs, which makes
electric field at the pn junction and are collected by
them a strong candidate to replace coal-fired power
the front contact metal grid, which can be connected to
stations for future power generation. Currently they have
an external circuit. The size of the voltage created by
many applications that include the supply of electricity
solar cells depends on the potential difference across
to remote locations or homes, and satellites.
the depletion region.
In a PV, a valence band electron absorbs a photon
The engineering of solar cells has advanced greatly
and is excited up to the conduction band, thus
in recent years so that greater efficiency can be
contributing to an electrical current. In practice, PVs
obtained at lower cost. For example, an antireflective
are simply pn junctions. The photons absorbed in the
coating is placed on top so that very few photons are
p region produce conduction electrons near the
lost due to simple reflection. The size of the energy gap
depletion region. These electrons are swept to the n
determines the wavelength range that will be absorbed
side of the junction by the electric field (see Figure
to produce electronssome parts of the sunlight
10.3.6). If the depletion layer is thin enough, then
spectrum deliver more energy than others. The
most of these electrons can reach the n region without
maximum efficiency of 23% has been achieved in
recombining with a hole. The electrons in the n region
recent years but not on a commercial scale.
have a much higher lifetime before recombining with
a hole. Electrodes placed on the ends of
energy
the semiconductor collect this newly
electrical
from Sun
transmission
created current and deliver it to an
system
external circuit. Electrons will travel
transparent
around a circuit and back to the p region,
adhesive
where they will recombine with holes.
antireflection
The actual structure of a solar cell is
coating
solar
cover glass
shown in Figure 10.3.7. The n-type
front
arrays
contact

n-type layer
(semiconductor)
light absorption

conduction
band

absorbed
photon

substrate

junction
p-type layer
(semiconductor)

valence
band
new hole and
electron created
p-type

hole flow

electron
flow

current

n-type

electron flow

load
resistor

electron
flow
(current)

electron
flow

Figure 10.3.6 A solar cell is a pn junction that


absorb photons to create conduction
electrons.
196

back
contact

freed electrons

holes filled by freed electrons

Figure 10.3.7 How a solar cell operates

from ideas to
Implementation

Try this!
seeing infra-red
Grab a remote control that you use for the TV set or DVD player.
Look at the LED at the end of the remote control while pressing
any button (for example, the volume or channel button). You should
not see anything happening. Now point the remote control at your
mobile phone camera or any other digital camera. While looking at
the screen of the camera, press any button on the remote control.
You should now see the LED flashing, because the camera is
sensitive to the infra-red light from the LED but your eye is not.

Figure 10.3.8 The infra-red light from the LED of a remote control has been
made visible by the digital camera that took this photograph.

Checkpoint 10.3
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Describe what is used to make a diode.


Outline how a pn junction is connected to a power supply in order for electricity to flow.
Describe what happens to the distribution of electrons and holes when p- and n-type semiconductors are
brought into contact.
Outline how a rectifier works.
Explain why light is emitted in a LED.
Describe the different parts of a solar cell.
Explain why the n-type layer in a solar cell needs to be thin.

10.4 The control of electrical current


We have seen that the diode (or rectifier) enables current to be conducted in one
direction, for example, to convert AC to DC. Diodes are one of the most basic
electronic components, but they have limited control over current. Remarkably,
the first type of radio receiver used only a diode as a means of detecting a radio
signal and obtaining the audible sound without the need for batteries or any
other kind of power supply. This was called a crystal radio set and is still made
today by enthusiasts to detect AM radio stations.
A great deal more control over current is required for the wide variety of
electronic devices we use every day. For example, mobile phones have to transmit
an electromagnetic wave at a precise frequency by making electrical current
oscillate through an antenna. The phone also needs to detect a very weak
electromagnetic wave, then amplify it (make it larger) and decipher the
information contained within it such as voice, SMS, etc.

Figure 10.4.1 Thermionic devices (valves)


were replaced by the much
smaller transistors in modernday electronics.
197

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution

electrons

A number of discoveries and inventions led to components that were used to


accurately control the direction and magnitude of electrical current. The first of
these were vacuum tubes known as thermionic devices or valves, which were
later replaced by semiconductor technology such as diodes, transistors and
integrated circuits.

anode
electrons

cathode
heater

Thermionic devices

electrons
A

Figure 10.4.2 A thermionic diode enables


current to flow in one direction.

anode
electrons
grid
cathode
heater
heater
(filament)

cathode
grid

anode

Figure 10.4.3 A triode allows the electron


current to be controlled
electrically.

+150 V

The transistor

output

0V

Figure 10.4.4 A small AC signal is amplified


by a triode circuit.

198

During his research on incandescent lamps, Thomas Edison (18471931)


discovered that a current can be made to flow between a heated filament and
a metal electrode in a vacuum by applying a potential difference between them.
The filament and electrode were the cathode and anode respectively. Heating
the filament gives some electrons enough energy to escape the surface. These
electrons are then accelerated to the anode.
John Ambrose Fleming (18491945) applied this effect to the construction
of the first thermionic rectifier (diode) or valve, which allowed current to flow in
only one direction. The name valve comes from an analogous mechanical device
that allows fluids or gases to flow in one direction, such as the valve (or nozzle)
on a bicycle or car tyre that enables air to be pumped in but does not let it out.
A thermionic diode consists of three components: the filament (or heater),
the cathode and the anode (see Figure 10.4.2). The heater is used to heat the
cathode, which releases electrons that are attracted to the anode (the plate). Lee
De Forest (18731961) inserted a metal grid between the cathode and anode of
a thermionic diode. The grid allows electrons to pass through (see Figure 10.4.3).
This device is known as the triode. De Forest found that the electron current
could be stopped by placing a negative voltage on the grid, or it could be allowed
through by using a positive voltage. A voltage between these two extremes could
be used to control the amount of current flowing through.
One application of the triode is the amplifier (see Figure 10.4.4). If the
voltage on the grid is negative to the point that it only allows a very tiny current
through, then a small AC signal applied to the grid will cause current flowing to
the anode to vary in the same way. However, because of the large potential
difference between anode and cathode, this current is larger than that in the
original signal; that is, the triode has acted as a current amplifier. Moreover, this
current could be passed through a resistor, resulting in a varying voltage across it.
In this way, small voltage signals could be amplified. The invention of the triode
was in part responsible for the revolution in electronics, such as in radio and
television, in the early 20th century.
Transistors are semiconductor devices that control and amplify electrical current;
they have largely replaced thermionic devices. Just as the pn junction has
replaced the thermionic diode, the transistor has replaced the thermionic triode.
The transistor was invented in 1947 by John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, who
with their boss William Shockley received the Nobel Prize for it in 1956.
In the early days of the transistor, germanium was used as the semiconductor
because the methods existed for growing germanium crystals of high purity.
Although silicon is more abundant and retains its semiconducting properties at
higher temperatures, it needed a crystal of higher purity than could be achieved
at the time. Germanium diodes and transistors were replaced with those made
from silicon as soon as techniques for growing crystals improved and resulted in
higher purity silicon.

from ideas to
Implementation
The most common transistor is the bipolar (or junction) transistor. A schematic
diagram of a bipolar transistor is shown in Figure 10.4.5. This transistor works in
a similar way to the original transistor of Bardeen and Brattain, but its structure is
very different.
The bipolar transistor (Figure 10.4.5) consists of a p-type semiconductor
sandwiched between two n-type semiconductors. A lead (or wire) is connected
to each layer of the material. The two outer layers are called the emitter and the
collector; the central layer is called the base. This is often called an npn
transistor. The width of the base has been exaggerated for clarity, but is usually
very thin.
An electron current will only flow from the emitter to the collector if there is
a potential on the base with respect to the emitter (see Figure 10.4.6). Recall that
in a pn junction there is an electric field that points from n to p. Applying a
positive voltage on the base of an npn transistor with respect to the emitter
reduces the size of this field to almost zero. This then allows electrons from the
emitter to move into the base region. These electrons are then accelerated into the
collector region by the electric field at the junction between base and collector.
The electrons that moved into the collector can then flow into an external circuit.
Note that no current will flow without applying the potential to the
base. The current to the base is much smaller than the current that it allows to
flow from emitter to collector. Thus the transistor, like the triode, is a current
amplifier. The circuit given in Figure 10.4.7 has a small AC voltage applied to the
base of an npn transistor, which causes a much larger current to flow into an
external resistor between the emitter and the collector. The voltage across the
resistor is larger than the input signal but varies in the same way. This circuit is a
basic amplifier. Bipolar transistors also can be made in the pnp configuration.

Identify that the use of


germanium in early transistors
is related to lack of ability to
produce other materials of
suitable purity.

electrons
electrons
n
collector

p
base

collector

electrons
emitter

small
current

emitter

base

collector

emitter
base

Figure 10.4.5 A schematic diagram


of a bipolar transistor

+
Vbase

large
current

+
Vcollector

Figure 10.4.6 An electron current flows


through an npn transistor.

load
resistor

amplified
output

input
+

+
Vbase

Vcollector

Figure 10.4.7 This small signal amplifier


uses an npn transistor.

A comparison of solid state and thermionic devices


Semiconductor devices such as diodes and transistors do the same job as their
equivalent thermionic devices (the valve and the triode), but they have many
The semiconductor devices are much smaller than their
advantages.
thermionic counterparts and use much less power. They are mechanically
robust, whereas thermionic devices are made of glass and so are fragile, and
semiconductors have longer operating lifetimes due to their lower temperature
of operation.

Describe differences between


solid state and thermionic
devices and discuss why solid
state devices replaced
thermionic devices.

199

10

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution

PHYSICS FEATURE
Integrated circuits

nother type of transistor, called the field-effect


transistors (FET), shown in Figure 10.4.8, consists
of two n regions embedded in a larger and lightly doped
p substrate. The two n regions are called the source and
the drain. An insulating layer made from an oxide of the
semiconductor (such as silicon oxide) covers these, and
a metal electrode (called the gate) is placed on top of
this layer. Because the substrate is lightly doped, it is
not very conducting, so that no current will flow
naturally between the source and the drain. When a
positive potential is applied to the gate, it causes
electrons in the substrate to be attracted to the region
between the two n regions and forms a conducting
channel. In this way, current can be controlled by the
voltage on the gate.
This metaloxidesemiconductor field-effect
transistor (MOSFET) is not as common as the bipolar
transistor, but its construction makes it easy to place
many MOSFETs on a single wafer of silicon.
Combinations of MOSFETs, resistors and capacitors
form very complicated circuits known as integrated
circuits (IC). Integrated circuits containing hundreds
of thousands of transistors may be as small as a few
millimetres square. The IC is commonly known as the
silicon chip, and is used in all modern-day electronics
such as computers, televisions, mobile phones, etc.
There are many processes that go into producing an
integrated circuit and they vary between different
manufacturing plants and depend on the specifications
of the required IC. The following description simply
gives an indication of the many-step processes that go
into making an IC.

An n-type layer is sandwiched between a lightly


doped p-type silicon layer (the substrate) and a layer
of silicon dioxide (SiO2) deposited on it. Photographic,
chemical and ion-beam bombardment techniques
are used to dissolve (etch) unwanted areas and
deposit or dope other areas for the required patterns
of transistors, resistors and capacitors.

gate (small voltage)


source ()

drain (+)
insulating
layer

n
few electrons
can pass
substrate (p)

Figure 10.4.8 A schematic diagram of a


metaloxidesemiconductor
field-effect transistor (MOSFET)

silicon
dioxide
film
n-type

p-type
substrate

Figure 10.4.9 A wafer of p-type silicon with n-type


and insulating layers is the starting
point in the manufacture of an
integrated circuit.

Checkpoint 10.4
1
2
3
4
5
6
200

Describe the purposes of a diode and a triode.


Referring to Figure 10.4.2, explain the need for the heater in a thermionic diode.
Explain how a triode works.
Outline how an amplifier works.
Recall the reasons why germanium was originally used in semiconductor devices.
Identify problems associated with the use of germanium in these devices.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

from ideas to
Implementation

CHAPTER 10

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 10.1: Electrons and holes


Using the computer simulation, investigate the behaviour of p-type and n-type
semiconductors, and a pn junction.
Discussion questions
1 Describe the changes in the energy diagram when the semiconductors are
doped with p-type or n-type dopants.
2 Use your observations of the simulator diode to explain what happens
inside a diode.

Activity 10.2: History of communication


Gather information about the history of the transistor and the development of
telecommunications, and consider how the materials and technology available at
the time influenced what could be developed.
Discussion questions
1 Explain how the use of semiconductors changed telecommunications.
2 Identify areas in which the introduction of the transistor has influenced
social behaviour.

Activity 10.3: Solar cells


Solar cells are devices that can convert sunlight directly to electrical energy.
Carry out an experiment to determine the effect of sunlight on a solar cell.
Equipment: solar cell, fan or small motor, digital multimeter.

Perform an investigation to
model the behaviour of
semiconductors, including the
creation of a hole or positive
charge on the atom that has lost
the electron and the movement
of electrons and holes in
opposite directions when an
electric field is applied across
the semiconductor.

Gather, process and present


secondary information to discuss
how shortcomings in available
communication technology lead
to an increased knowledge of the
properties of materials with
particular reference to the
invention of the transistor.
Identify data sources, gather,
process, analyse information and
use available evidence to assess
the impact of the invention of
transistors on society with
particular reference to their use
in microchips and
microprocessors.

Identify data sources, gather,


process and present information
to summarise the effect of light
on semiconductors in solar cells.

Discussion questions
1 Determine the angle (with respect to the direction of the Sun) of the solar
cell that delivers the greatest amount of power to the motor, or the greatest
voltage.
2 Determine the effect on power output of different wavelengths of light by
placing, for example, coloured cellophane in front of the solar cell.

201

10



Chapter summary

Semiconductors
and the electronic
revolution

The conduction of electrons can be described with


energy band diagrams.
Electrons in the valence band are not free to move and
do not contribute to conduction.
Electrons in the conduction band are free to move and
enable conduction to take place.
Insulators have a large energy gap between the
conduction and valence bands and not many valence
electrons have enough energy to jump up to the
conduction band.
Metals have no band gap and, therefore, there are always
electrons in the conduction band.
The energy-band diagram of semiconductors is similar
to that of insulators but with a much smaller band gap.
Semiconductors can be made more conducting by
exciting electrons from the valence band to the
conduction band by heat energy or a photon.
The conductivity of semiconductors can be improved
by introducing impurity atoms into the crystal lattice.

A semiconductor with impurities that introduce extra


electrons into the lattice is known as an n-type
semiconductor.
A semiconductor with impurities that introduce a vacancy
in the bonding is known as a p-type semiconductor.
The introduction of impurities into the semiconductor
crystal lattice is known as doping.
The impurities in semiconductors introduce extra
energy levels in the energy gap region and so improve
the conductivity of semiconductors.
Semiconductor devices can be made by using the
properties of the junction between p- and n-type
semiconductors, and include the diode, the solar cell
and the transistor.
Transistors replaced thermionic valve triodes used in the
control of electrical current.
Transistors have the advantage of being faster, smaller
and more energy efficient than thermionic valve triodes,
and thousands can be produced on a small silicon wafer
to make complicated integrated circuits.

Review questions
Physically speaking

Reviewing

Create a visual summary of the concepts in this chapter


by constructing a mind map incorporating the terms and
equation in the following table.

Outline the difference between energy levels and


energy bands.

Describe the difference in terms of energy gaps


between insulators, conductors and semiconductors.

Explain why it is wrong to say n-type semiconductors


are negatively charged or that p-type semiconductors
are positively charge.

Explain why the depletion zone occurs when p- and


n-type semiconductors are placed in contact with
each other.

p-type

n-type

Semiconductor

Energy bands

Depletion zone

Conductor

Valence band

Forbidden gap

Insulator

Thermionic devices

Solid state

Triode

Explain why the depletion zone will not form at


a temperature of absolute zero.

Diode

Transistor

Solar cell

Describe in terms of electric field strength why forward


and reverse bias occurs.

Holes

Electrons

Doping

7
8

Describe the path of an electron through a solar cell.

Explain in terms of the electric field at a pn junction


how current can flow in only one direction.

202

Give reasons why thermionic devices were not energy


efficient.

from ideas to
Implementation
10 Explain how a triode can be used to control the
amount of current flowing in a circuit.

11 Compare and contrast a triode with a transistor.


12 Explain why silicon was not originally used in making
semiconducting devices.

13 Explain the significance of integrated circuits


on society.

Solving problems
14 A 1 milliwatt (103 W) red laser pointer outputs

a wavelength of 650 nm (nm=1109m).


a Calculate the energy of a photon emitted from
the laser.
b Calculate the number of photons being emitted
every second. (Hint: Plancks constant
h = 6.63 1034Js.)

16 A photon of wavelength 3.35 m (1 m = 1 106m)


has just enough energy to raise an electron from
the valence band to the conduction band in a lead
sulfide crystal. Calculate the energy gap between
these bands in lead sulfide. (Hint: Plancks constant
h = 6.63 1034 Js.)

17 Figure 10.5.1 shows a sinusoidal input voltage Vi as a


function of time t for the given circuit. Draw a similar
graph of the output voltage Vo as a function of time.
Vi
+v
Vi
0

Vo

15 The electrical conductivity of undoped silicon can

iew

Q uesti o

Figure 10.5.1

Re

be increased by irradiating it with photons. This has


the effect of exciting valence electrons into the
conduction band. Given that the energy band gap of
silicon is 1.14eV, calculate the longest wavelength
of a photon that can excite a valence electron to
the conduction band. (Hint: Plancks constant
h = 6.63 1034 Js.)

203

11

Superconductivity
Surprising discovery

crystal, constructive interference,


destructive interference, path length,
diffraction grating, Bragg law,
phonons, critical temperature,
type-I superconductors,
type-II superconductors,
critical field strength, vortices,
flux pinning, BCS theory, Cooper pair,
coherence length, energy gap, spin

Just as an improved understanding of the conducting properties of


semiconductors led to the wide variety of electronic devices, research
into the conductivity of metals produced quite a surprising discovery
called superconductivity. This is the total disappearance of electrical
resistance below a certain temperature, which has great potential
applications ranging from energy transmission and storage to public
transport. An understanding of this phenomenon required a detailed
understanding of the crystal structure of conductors and the motion
of electrons through them.

11.1 The crystal structure of matter


A crystal is a three-dimensional regular arrangement of atoms. Figure 11.1.1
shows a sodium chloride crystal (ordinary salt also called rock salt when it comes
as a large crystal). The crystal is made from simple cubes repeated many times,
with sodium and chlorine atoms at the corners of the cubes. Crystals of other
materials may have different regular arrangements of their atoms. There are
14 types of crystal arrangements that solids can have.
The regular arrangement of atoms in crystals was a hypothesis before
Max Von Laue and his colleagues confirmed it by X-ray diffraction experiments.
William and Lawrence Bragg took this method one step further by measuring
the spacing between the atoms in the crystal. Let us first look at the phenomenon

Figure 11.1.1 Crystal structure of sodium chloride. The red spheres represent positive
sodium ions, and the green spheres represent negative chlorine ions.

204

from ideas to
Implementation
of interference of electromagnetic radiation, and examine how this was applied to
crystals using X-rays. Then we will see how the BCS theory of superconductivity
made use of the crystal structure of matter.

Try This!

Checkpoint 11.1

Crystals in the kitchen

Explain what is meant by the crystal structure of matter.

Look at salt grains through a


magnifying lens. Each grain is
a single crystal that is made from
the basic arrangement of sodium
and chlorine atoms shown in
Figure 11.1.1. Although the
grains mostly look irregular due
to breaking and chipping during
the manufacturing process,
occasionally you will see an
untouched cubic or rectangular
prism that reflects the underlying
crystal lattice structure.

11.2 Wave interference


The wave nature of light can be used to measure the size of very small spaces.
Recall that two identical waves combine to produce a wave of greater amplitude
when their crests overlap, as shown in Figure 11.2.1a (see in2 Physics @
Preliminary sections 6.4 and 7.4). The overlapping waves will cancel to produce
t=0s
a resulting wave of zero amplitude when the crest of one wave coincides with the
trough of the other (Figure 11.2.1b). This addition and subtraction is called
constructive and destructive interference respectively and is a property of all
wave phenomena.
t=1s
As an example, two identical circular water waves in a ripple tank overlap (see
Figure 11.2.2). The regions of constructive and destructive interference radiate
outwards along the lines as shown. Increasing the spacing between the sources
t = 3 s (Figure 11.2.2b).
causes the radiating lines to come closer together
a

t=0s

t=4s

Figure 11.2.1 Two identical waves (red, green) travelling in opposite directions can add (blue)
t=1s

(a) constructively or (b) destructively.t = 5 s

The interference of identical waves from two sources can also be represented
by outwardly radiating transverse waves (see Figure 11.2.3). The distance that a
twave
= 3 s travels is known as its path length. t = 6 s Constructive interference occurs
when the difference in the path length of the two waves is equal to 0, , 2, 3,
4 or any other integer multiple of the wavelength . Destructive interference
occurs when the two waves are half a wavelength out of step. This corresponds to
t=4s
t=7s
a path length difference of /2, 3/2, 5/2 etc.

t=5s

waves
in phase

lines of destructive
interference

lines of constructive
interference

Figure 11.2.2 Interference of water waves for


two sources that are (a) close
together and (b) further apart

constructive
interference

t=6s

destructive
interference
constructive
interference

t=7s

Figure 11.2.3 Constructive and destructive interference between


identical transverse waves from two sources
205

11

Superconductivity

Light also has wave properties and produces interference effects when it is
passed through two narrow and closely spaced slits (see Figure 11.2.4). Each slit
acts as a source of light waves that are in step with each other. The resulting
constructive and destructive interference pattern appears as bright and dark
bands on a screen.
The position of the bright bands can be determined by applying the
condition that the path length difference between the two waves must be an
integer multiple of wavelengths (see Figure 11.2.5). This can be expressed by
the following equation:

screen
double
slit

m = dsin
where m = 1, 2, 3 , d is the spacing between the slits and is the angular
position of the bright bands. The central bright band corresponds to m = 0.
The first band on either side of it corresponds to m = 1, and so on.
Interference also occurs when many slits are
constructive
used (see Figure 11.2.6). The bright bands
interference
become narrower and sharper on the edges, with
y
increasing number of slits. In practice, the slits

are parallel straight lines scratched, etched or


moulded onto a glass plate. This arrangement of
multiple slits is known as a diffraction grating.
A very good grating for visible light can
screen
have 2400 lines per millimetre. Such a grating
provides very sharply defined bands whose

Figure 11.2.4 An interference pattern is


formed by light passing
through two narrow slits.

S1
L
S2

slit 1
d

slit 2
d sin

waves
in phase

Figure 11.2.5 The path difference between waves


that produce constructive interference
constructive
interference

waves
in phase

TRY THIS!
Diffraction grating in my stereo
A commonly available diffraction grating is the humble CD
or DVD. It has thousands of tiny and closely spaced pits
that cause ordinary white light to break up into the colours
of the rainbow because there is an angle for constructive
interference for each wavelength contained in white light.
A more clearly defined diffraction pattern can be made by
shining a low power (less than 1 mW) laser pointer on the
CD or DVD so that the beam is reflected to a nearby wall.
You should notice that there are fainter dots near the
reflected dot. These fainter dots arise from constructive
interference of the laser light.

waves
in phase

destructive
interference

constructive
interference

Figure 11.2.6 Interference from multiple slits in a diffraction grating


206

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Implementation
position can be accurately determined. The angular positions of the bright bands
Knowledge
are determined by the formula given above for the double slit.
of the wavelength can be used to determine the slit separation and vice versa.
To obtain an interference pattern, the distance between slits must be
close to the wavelength of the light falling on them. The interference pattern
from a diffraction grating is also called a diffraction pattern.

Checkpoint 11.2
1
2
3

Recall the conditions for constructive interference.


Describe how these differ from those for destructive interference.
Compare the interference pattern produced by light and that produced by two interfering water waves.

11.3 X-ray diffraction


X-rays are high-frequency electromagnetic waves first discovered by Wilhelm
Conrad Rntgen (18451923). He was experimenting with cathode ray tubes
and noticed that a fluorescent screen, some distance away from the tube, began
to glow each time the tube was operated. Rntgen had discovered a new type
of radiation, which he called X-rays to indicate that their nature was unknown.
Rntgen also found that X-rays had great penetrating power and could be used
for medical applications. Figure 11.3.1 shows one of the first X-ray pictures of
a hand taken by Rntgen.
Several years of experimentation by scientists after Rntgens discovery
showed that X-rays were electromagnetic waves like light but with an
extremely short wavelength. A schematic diagram of an X-ray tube is shown
in Figure 11.3.2. A beam of electrons strikes a metal target. The rapid
deceleration of electrons on striking the target causes X-rays to be emitted.
The wavelength of the most intense X-rays depends on the material from
which the target is made.
A single narrow slit can also be used to obtain a blurry diffraction pattern.
Using this crude method, rough estimates of 1010 m were obtained for the
wavelength of X-rays. It wasnt physically possible for a proper diffraction
grating with a well-controlled slit spacing of 1010 m to be made, so accurate
estimates of X-ray wavelength were not possible. Max von Laue (18791960)
learned of the hypothesis that crystals were regular arrangements of atoms
with a spacing between atoms of about 1010 m. He realised that crystals were
the gratings he needed for X-ray diffraction.
In 1912 W. Friedrich and P. Knipping followed von Laues suggestions and
passed a narrow beam of X-rays through a zinc sulfide crystal. A photographic
plate placed behind the crystal produced a regular pattern of spots (Figure
11.3.3), which was the interference pattern of the crystal which acted as a
diffraction grating.

Figure 11.3.1 X-ray picture of a hand taken


by Rntgen
cathode
(electron
source)
electron
beam

anode

vacuum
X-rays

heavy
metal
target
metal rod
(removes
heat and
electrons)

cooling fins

Figure 11.3.2 An X-ray tube


207

11

Superconductivity

Checkpoint 11.3

X-rays

1
2

Recall Rntgens observations that led to the discovery of X-rays.


Identify why X-rays are emitted when electrons strike a metal
surface.
Explain the significance of crystals in determining the
wavelength of X-rays.

crystal

3
lead
collimator

photographic
film

Figure 11.3.3 Laues suggestion for


X-ray diffraction

Outline the methods used by


the Braggs to determine crystal
structure.

11.4 Crystal structure


The Laue diffraction patterns qualitatively showed that a crystal indeed consisted
of a regular array of atoms. The idea of using the diffraction pattern to measure
the atomic spacing came from the Australian-born physicist Sir William
Lawrence Bragg (18901971), who, working with his father William Henry
Bragg (18621942), realised that crystals can be considered as consisting of
many planes oriented along different directions (see Figure 11.4.1).
Bragg realised that X-rays could penetrate the crystal structure and be
reflected from a set of parallel planes (see Figure 11.4.2). Constructive
In 1912, Bragg
interference is produced for certain reflection angles.
showed that the wavelength of X-rays was related to the spacing d between
planes by modifying the double slit constructive interference equation as follows:
n = 2dsin
where n is an integer and is the angle of incidence measured between the X-ray
beam and the crystal plane (see Figure 11.4.3). This is the Bragg law that
governs all modern X-ray diffraction.
This pioneering work has now become a standard method of determining
the crystal structure of materials.

Figure 11.4.1 The different planes of a cubic crystal

Figure 11.4.2 Crystal lattices consist of many


parallel planes in many directions
that can reflect X-rays.

incident
angle

reflection
angle

d sin

208

Figure 11.4.3 The parallel planes reflect X-rays to


produce constructive interference
according to the Bragg law.

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Implementation

Which came first: or d?

From measurements of the diffraction angle , the Braggs were able to determine
the wavelength of X-rays. This needed an accurate knowledge of the spacing d
between planes in the crystal. However, this spacing was not known accurately,
since there was no method available to measure it. How can you measure
without knowing d and vice versa?
The Braggs solved this dilemma by using the diffraction pattern to determine
the arrangement of the atoms, without the need to know the space between them.
For example, it is possible to know that a crystal has a cubic arrangement from a
Laue diffraction pattern, without the need to know the spacing of atomic planes
Knowledge of the lattice geometry, the density
or the wavelength of X-rays.
of the crystal (mass/volume) and the mass (in grams) of the individual atoms
enables the spacing between atoms to be calculated accurately. This calculated
spacing d can now be used with the X-ray diffraction angle , to determine the
wavelength from the Bragg diffraction equation. Today, we simply use the
database of known crystal lattice spacings to determine X-ray wavelengths.

Checkpoint 11.4
1
2
3

Outline the Braggs contribution to the understanding of X-rays.


State the Bragg law.
Outline how the Braggs determined the spacing of the atoms on crystals.

11.5 Electrical conductivity and the


crystal structure of metals
X-ray diffraction has shown that the atoms of most metals exist in one of three
types of crystal lattices (see Figure 11.5.1). The crystal structure of metals can be
viewed as a lattice of positive ions surrounded by a sea of nearly free electrons,
which makes metals such good electrical conductors. The binding mechanism in
metals is the attractive force between the positive ions and the electron gas.
Remarkably, quantum physics predicts that there should be little or no
resistance to the motion of electrons in a perfect crystal lattice since electrons
behave like waves propagating through it. That is, the perfect regularity of the
crystal enables the electrons to travel unimpeded, as a wave through the crystal.

Identify that metals possess a


crystal lattice structure.
Describe conduction in metals as
a free movement of electrons
unimpeded by the lattice.
Identify that resistance in metals
is increased by the presence of
impurities and scattering of
electrons by lattice vibrations.

Figure 11.5.1 The structure of most metallic


crystals can be (a) body-centred
cubic, (b) face-centred cubic, or
(c) hexagonal close-packed.
209

11

Superconductivity

Anything that disturbs the regularity of the lattice results in electron collisions
and contributes to the electrical resistance of the crystal.
In practice, metals do show electrical resistance, as evidenced by the increase
in temperature of the metal wire in an electric heater or the heating element
on a stove. Resistance in metals originates from collisions of electrons with
irregularities in the crystal lattice. These can be caused by lattice vibrations, or
impurities (a foreign atom substituted for one in the crystal lattice) and defects
of the lattice (such as a missing atom) (see Figure 11.5.2). The crystal lattice of
all metals above a temperature of 0K consists of waves of lattice vibrations
known as phonons. A phonon colliding with an electron causes it to lose energy
and thus contributes to electrical resistance.
Real metal wires consist of many small crystals joined together and separated
by irregular boundaries. The boundaries also serve as places where electron
collisions take place and thus contribute to electrical resistance.
a

Figure 11.5.2 Electrical resistance is caused by electron collisions due to crystal lattice
(a) impurities, (b) defects and (c) vibrations.

The Kelvin temperature scale

he kelvin temperature scale differs from the Celsius scale by the following
expression:
kelvin = Celsius + 273.15

The lowest possible temperature is 0 kelvin (or simply 0K), which is


273.15C. The kelvin is named after the British physicist William Thomson
(18241907), who later was given the title Lord Kelvin. In 1900 he is
reported to have said, there is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.
All that remains is more and more precise measurement. This was before the
discovery of superconductivity, relativity, quantum physics, and all of the
modern physics that has led to a radical transformation of our society through
technology and our understanding of nature and the universe. Even great
scientists can be short sighted.

Figure 11.5.3 William Thomson


(Lord Kelvin)

Checkpoint 11.5
1
2
3
4

210

Outline the significance of X-ray diffraction to the structure of metals.


Explain the effect on electrical resistance of irregularities that are introduced into a crystal.
Give reasons why resistance in metals does not match the near-zero resistance predicted for crystal structures.
Outline the role of a phonon in electrical resistance.

from ideas to
Implementation

11.6 The discovery of


superconductors
0.15
Resistance ()

The phenomenon of superconductivity, in which the electrical resistance of


certain materials completely vanishes at low temperatures, is one of the most
interesting and sophisticated in condensed matter physics. It was first discovered
by the Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (18531926), who was the
first to liquefy helium (which boils at 4.2 K at standard pressure). In 1911
Kamerlingh Onnes discovered the phenomenon of superconductivity while
studying the resistance of metals at low temperatures. He studied mercury
because very pure samples could easily be prepared by distillation.
The historic measurement of superconductivity in mercury is shown in
Figure 11.6.1. The electrical resistance of mercury decreased steadily when it
was cooled, but dropped suddenly to zero at 4.2K. Soon after this discovery,
many other elemental metals were found to have zero resistance when their
temperatures were lowered below a certain temperature that is characteristic of
the material. This is called the critical temperature Tc, some of which are given
in Table 11.6.1.

Hg
0.10

0.05

0.00
4.1

4.2
4.3
Temperature (K)

4.4

Figure 11.6.1 The resistance of mercury


as measured by
Kamerlingh Onnes

Table 11.6.1 Some superconductors, their critical temperatures and critical magnetic fields
Material

Critical temperature
(kelvin)

Critical magnetic field


strength (tesla)

Type I

Tungsten

0.02

0.0001

(elements)

Titanium

0.4

0.0056

Aluminium

1.18

0.0105

Tin

3.72

0.0305

Mercury ()

4.15

0.0411

Lead

7.19

0.0803

Type II

NbTi alloy

(compounds
and alloys)

NbZr alloy

10.8

11

PbMo6S8

14.0

45

V3Ga

16.5

22

10.2

Process information to identify


some of the metals, metal
alloys and compounds that
have been identified as
exhibiting the property of
superconductivity and their
critical temperatures.

12

Nb2Sn

18.3

22

Nb3Al

18.9

32

Nb3Ge

23.0

30

Type II

YBa2Cu3O7

92

(high-temperature
ceramic
compounds)

Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3O10

110

Tl2Ba2Ca2Cu3O10

125

HgBa2Ca2Cu3O8

135

Too high to measure,


typically ~200
(estimated)

Superconductivity was an unexpected phenomenon. As shown in Figure


11.6.2, it was expected that by cooling a conductor the lattice vibrations
(phonons) will be gradually reduced in amplitude. The reduction in lattice
vibrations also reduces the number of collisions of electron with the crystal
lattice and therefore reduces the electrical resistance. One would expect the
resistance to gradually decrease to very low values at a temperature of 0 K. This
is why it was surprising to find that the resistance dropped to zero at a relatively
high temperature.

Electrical resistance

Class

superconductor

normal
metal

TC

Temperature (K)

Figure 11.6.2 The resistance of a normal


conductor and a superconductor
211

11

Superconductivity

Checkpoint 11.6
1
2
3

Recall how superconductivity was discovered.


Define critical temperature.
Compare the expected measurements of resistance as temperature is reduced with the experimental results.

11.7 The Meissner effect


T
Tc
Ba
0

Ideal
conductor

Superconductor

Figure 11.7.1 A thought experiment that illustrates


superconductors are not the same
as perfect conductors

In 1933, Walter Meissner and Robert Oschenfeld discovered that


superconductors expel magnetic fields from their interiors in a way that is
different from the behaviour expected of hypothetical perfect conductors.
Figure 11.7.1 illustrates a thought experiment that highlights this difference.
Imagine that both the ideal conductor and superconductor are above their
critical temperature Tc; that is, they both are in a normal conducting state
and have electrical resistance. A magnetic field Ba, is then applied, which
penetrates both materials. Each sample is then cooled to below its critical
It is found that
temperature, so that they both have zero resistance.
the superconductor expels the magnetic field from inside it, while the ideal
conductor maintains its interior field. Note that the energy needed by the
superconductor to expel the magnetic field comes from the superconducting
transition, which is exothermic. Switching off the magnetic field induces
currents in the ideal conductor that prevent changes in the magnetic field
inside it, as stated by Lenzs law (Module 2 Motors and generators).
However, the superconductor returns to its initial state; that is, it has no
magnetic field inside or outside it.

Checkpoint 11.7
Explain what happens to a magnetic field passing through an ideal conductor and a superconductor when the conductors
are cooled to below their critical temperatures.

11.8 Type-I and type-II superconductors


High magnetic fields destroy superconductivity and restore the normal
conducting state. Depending on the character of this transition, we may
distinguish between type-I and type-II superconductors. The graph in Figure
11.8.1 illustrates changes in the internal magnetic field strength Bi (the field
inside the superconductor) with increasing applied magnetic field. It is found
that the internal field is zero (as expected from the Meissner effect) until a
critical magnetic field Bc is reached, at which a sudden transition to the normal
state occurs. This results in the penetration of the applied field into the interior.
Superconductors that undergo this abrupt transition to the normal state
212

Checkpoint 11.8
1
2

Describe the significance of internal magnetic fields and critical


magnetic fields.
Distinguish between type-I and type-II superconductors.

Bc
External field Ba

Figure 11.8.1 Type-I superconductors


abruptly become normal
conductors at field strengths
above a critical magnetic field.

Internal field Bi

above a critical magnetic field strength are known as type-I superconductors.


Most of the pure elements listed in Table 11.6.1 tend to be type-I superconductors.
Type-II superconductors, on the other hand, respond differently to an
applied magnetic field (see Figure 11.8.2). These superconductors have two
critical field strengths, Bc1 and Bc2. As field strength is increased from zero, there
is no change in the internal magnetic field of the superconductor until Bc1 is
reached. At this field strength, the applied field begins to partially penetrate the
interior of the superconductor. However, the superconductivity is maintained at
this point. Superconductivity vanishes above the second, much higher, critical
field Bc2. For applied fields between Bc1 and Bc2, the applied field is able to
partially penetrate the superconductor, so the Meissner effect is incomplete and
the superconductor is able to tolerate very high magnetic fields.
Type-II superconductors are the most technologically useful because the
second critical field can be quite high, enabling high field strength electromagnets
Most compounds listed in Table
to be made out of superconducting wire.
11.6.1 are type-II superconductors. Wires made from, for example, niobiumtin
(Nb3Sn) have a Bc2 as high as 24.5 tesla, though in practice it is lower.
There is a misconception among some non-specialists that the term type
II refers to the copper oxide based high-temperature superconductors discovered
in the late 1980s. Although these are type-II superconductors, so are many
superconductors discovered before that time.

Internal field Bi

from ideas to
Implementation

Bc1

Bc2

External field Ba

Figure 11.8.2 Type-II superconductors have

11.9 Why is a levitated magnet stable?


Figure 11.9.1 shows a spectacular demonstration of the Meissner effect in
which a small permanent magnet floats on top of a high critical temperature
superconductor (YBa2Cu3O7) cooled with liquid nitrogen (at 77 K). It
demonstrates the repulsion of the magnetic field by the superconductor and
thus the levitation of the magnet.
Eddy currents are created on the surface of the superconductor, and,
consistent with Lenzs law, these essentially produce a magnetic field that mirrors
the field of the magnet, resulting in the repulsion and subsequent levitation of
the magnet (see Figure 11.9.2). In reality, when the magnet is first placed over
a small piece of superconductor it is unstable and falls off to the side. This is
because the magnet will float over its mirror image provided that image can keep
moving with it. The superconductor is small and cannot produce a satisfactory
magnetic field image near its edge, which results in ineffective repulsion.
So why does a levitating permanent magnet remain stable on top of a small
superconductor? Even a little nudge causes the magnet to spring back to its
original position as if somehow tied by invisible springs to that point. To explain

a partial penetration of the


magnetic field between two
critical fields.

Figure 11.9.1 A permanent magnet levitates


above a superconductor due to
the Meissner effect.
213

11

Superconductivity

induced
shielding
current

permanent
magnet
high-temperature
superconductor
image of
permanent
magnet

Figure 11.9.2 Eddy currents on the surface of


the superconductor essentially
create a mirror image of the
magnet resulting in repulsion
and levitation.

this, we need to expose a little secret used when demonstrating this levitation
experiment. If the magnet is lightly placed over a newly cooled high-temperature
superconductor, you should find that the magnet does not stay levitated for long
and falls off very quickly. To get the magnet to stay, hold the magnet over the
superconductor and, rather than letting it go, thrust it slightly towards the
superconductor. This is a subtle movement and usually goes unnoticed by the
audience. Now release the magnet and it will remain there stably. Incredibly, if the
magnet is then removed and dropped back over the superconductor, it levitates
stably without the need to thrust the magnet towards the superconductors. It is as
if the superconductor has remembered that the magnet was there. Moving the
magnet back and forth parallel to the surface of the superconductor or allowing
the superconductor to warm up above Tc and then cooling it down again will
make the levitation of the magnet unstable once more. The magnet must again be
thrust towards the superconductor to achieve stability. This is explained in the
following section.

Vortex states and flux pinning

Ba

600

Figure 11.9.3 (a) Illustration and (b)


photograph of a regular array
of normal conducting regions
(dark areas) in a type-II
superconductor where the field
penetrates the material.
214

Stable levitation of a permanent magnet above a small flat superconductor only


occurs with type-II superconductors. Certainly levitation occurs when using type-I
superconductors but with a type-II superconductor the levitation is particularly
stable and robust. The answer lies in the properties of type-II superconductors for
an applied magnetic field between the two critical fields Bc1 and Bc2. Recall that
for type-II superconductors, there is partial penetration of the magnetic field at
field strengths between Bc1 and Bc2. This partial penetration is in the form of a
regular array of normal conducting regions, as illustrated in Figure 11.9.3a.
Techniques have been developed to photograph these regions, which are shown as
a regular array of dark areas in Figure 11.9.3b.
These normal regions allow the penetration of the magnetic field in the form
of thin filaments, usually called vortices. The vortices are aptly named because
each is a vortex or swirl of electrical current that is associated with this state (see
Figure 11.9.3a). While in the vortex state, the material surrounding these normal
regions can have zero resistance and partial flux penetration. Vortex regions are
essentially filaments of normal conductor (non-superconducting) that run through
the sample when an external applied magnetic field exceeds the lower critical field
Bc1. As the strength of the external field increases, the number of filaments
increases until the field reaches the upper critical value Bc2; the filaments then
crowd together and join up so the entire sample becomes a normal conductor.
One can view a vortex as a cylindrical swirl of current surrounding a
cylindrical normal-conducting core that allows some flux to penetrate the interior
of type-II superconductors. Thrusting a permanent magnet towards a type-II
superconductor will cause the applied magnetic field at the superconductor to be
within the region of the two critical fields, which creates the vortex state. In
principle, the motion of a levitating permanent magnet will cause these vortices
In practice, real materials (such as high critical temperature
to move.
superconductors) have defects (missing or misplaced atoms, impurity atoms) in
their crystal lattices. They are also composed of many crystals, all bound together,
resulting in many crystal boundaries. The crystal defects and boundaries stop the
motion of the vortices, which is known as flux pinning. This provides the
stability of a levitating magnet. Pinning the motion of its magnetic field lines
also means stopping the motion of the magnet. Flux pinning can only occur in
type-II superconductors.

from ideas to
Implementation

Checkpoint 11.9
1
2
3
4

Explain what effect is being demonstrated by Figure 11.9.1.


Explain the contribution of eddy currents to the levitation of a magnet over a superconductor.
What are vortices?
Explain how thrusting the magnet towards the superconductor increases the stability of the levitation.

11.10 BCS theory and Cooper pairs


According to classical physics, part of the resistance of a metal is due to collisions
between free electrons and the crystal lattices vibrations, known as phonons.
In addition, part of the resistance is due to scattering of electrons by impurities
or defects in the conductor. As a result, the question arose as to why this doesnt
happen in superconductors.
A microscopic theory of superconductivity was developed in 1957 by
John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and J. Robert Schrieffer, and is known as the
BCS theory (after their initials). The central feature of this theory is that two
electrons in the superconductor are able to form a bound pair called a
Cooper pair if they somehow experience an attractive interaction between them.
At first this notion seems counterintuitive since electrons normally repel one
another because of their like charges.
An explanation of the formation of Cooper pairs relies heavily on quantum
physics; but here we present a classical picture of their formation (shown in
An electron passes through the lattice
Figure 11.10.1) and an explanation.
and at some point the positive ions are attracted to it, causing a distortion in
their nominal positions. The second electron (the Cooper pair partner) is
attracted by the positive charge of the displaced ions. This second electron can
only be attracted to the lattice distortion if it comes close enough before the ions
have had a chance to return to their equilibrium positions. The net effect is a
weak delayed attractive force between the two electrons.
This short-lived distortion of the lattice is sometimes called a virtual phonon
because its lifetime is too short to propagate through the lattice like a wave,
as a normal phonon would.
From the BCS theory, the total linear momentum of a Cooper pair
must be zero. This means that the electrons travel in opposite directions, as
shown in Figure 11.10.1. In addition, the nominal separation between the
Cooper pair (called the coherence length) ranges from hundreds to thousands of
ions! If electrons in a Cooper pair were too close, such as only a couple of atomic
spacings apart, then the electrostatic (coulomb) repulsion would be much larger
than the attraction from the lattice deformation and they would repel each other,
A current flowing in a
and there would be no superconductivity.
superconductor just shifts the total moment slightly from zero so that, on
average, one electron in a Cooper pair has a slightly larger momentum
magnitude than its partner. They do, however, still travel in opposite directions.
The interaction between electrons in a Cooper pair is transient. Each
electron in the pair goes on to form a Cooper pair with another electron, and
this process continues with the newly formed Cooper pairs so that each electron

Describe the occurrence in


superconductors below their
critical temperature of a
population of electron pairs
unaffected by electrical
resistance.
Discuss the BCS theory.

a
e

b
+ + e
+ +

c
+ +
+ +

Figure 11.10.1 Classical description of the


coupling of a Cooper pair.
(a) The first electron
approaches a section of the
lattice and (b) deforms part
of the lattice electrostatically.
(c) A second electron is
attracted to the net positive
charge of this deformation.

215

11

Superconductivity

PHYSICS FEATURE
High-temperature superconductors: The exceptions to the rule

n 1986 a class of materials was


discovered by Bednorz and Mller
that led to the superconductors we use
today on a bench top with liquid
nitrogen to cool them. Bednorz and
Mller received the Nobel Prize in
1987 for this work (the fastest ever
recognition by the Nobel committee).
The material we use mostly in school
science labs is the yttriumbarium
copper oxide compound YBa2Cu3O7,
otherwise known as the 1-2-3
superconductor. It is classified as a
high-temperature (Tc) superconductor.
The critical temperatures of some
high-temperature superconductors
Figure 11.10.2 Bednorz and Mller discovered high-temperature superconductors.
are given in Table 11.6.1. Critical
temperatures as high as 135K have
been achieved. This has made experiments on superconductivity more
accessible, since these need only to be cooled by liquid nitrogen (with
Cu-O chains
a boiling point of 77 K), which is cheap and readily available. This is in
contrast to the expensive and bulky equipment that uses liquid helium
for cooling the traditional types of superconductors.
The crystal lattice structure of YBa2Cu3O7 is shown in Figure 11.10.3.
Cu(2)
Unlike traditional superconductors, conduction mostly occurs in the planes
Y
containing the copper oxide. It has been found that the critical temperature
Ba
CuO2
is very sensitive to the average number of oxygen atoms present, which can
Cu
layer
O
vary. For this reason the formula for 1-2-3 superconductor is sometimes
given as YBa2Cu3O7 where is a number between 0 and 1.
The nominal distance between Cooper pair electrons (coherence length)
in these superconductors can be as short as one or two atomic spacings.
Cu(1)
As a result, the electrostatic repulsion force will generally dominate at
these distances, causing electrons to be repelled rather than coupled.
For this reason, in these materials it is widely accepted that Cooper
Figure 11.10.3 The crystal structure
of YBa2Cu3O7,
pairs are not caused by a lattice deformation, but may be associated with
a high-temperature
the type of magnetism present (known as antiferromagnetism) in the copper
superconductor
oxide layers. This means that high-temperature superconductors cannot
be explained by the BCS theory, since that mainly deals with lattice
deformations mediating the coupling of electron pairs. The research
continues into the actual mechanism responsible for superconductivity
in these materials.

216

from ideas to
Implementation
goes on to form Cooper pairs with other electrons. The end result is that each
electron in the solid is attracted to every other electron, forming a large network
of interactions. Causing just one of these electrons to collide and scatter from
atoms in the lattice means the whole network of electrons must be made to
collide into the lattice, which is energetically too costly. The collective behaviour
of all the electrons in the solid prevents any further collisions with the lattice.
In this case, the
Nature prefers situations that spend a minimum of energy.
minimum energy situation is to have no collisions with the lattice. A small
amount of energy is needed to destroy the superconducting state and make it
normal. This energy is called the energy gap.
In addition to having a linear momentum, each electron behaves as if it is
spinning. This property, not surprisingly, is called spin. (The electron is not
The BCS theory requires
actually spinning, but behaves as though it does.)
that the spins of Cooper pair electrons be in opposite directions.

Checkpoint 11.10
1
2
3

Describe how classical physics explains resistance in metals.


Outline how Cooper pair electrons form.
Describe what is meant by the total linear momentum of a Cooper pair must be zero.

11.11 Applications of superconductors


The main advantage of superconductors is that there is no heat lost when
passing current through them, which means that currents can be made to persist
indefinitely. For example, a superconducting electromagnet is made such that
external power is applied for only a very short time. The electromagnet is then
formed into a closed loop that enables the current (and field) to persist as long as
the superconductor stays below its critical temperature; that is, the external
power supply can be switched off!
The main disadvantage of superconductors is that they must be
maintained at very low temperatures. This requires specialised vessels known as
cryostats, which contain the cooling fluids such as liquid nitrogen and liquid
helium. The brittle nature of high-temperature superconductors has limited their
applicability. As a result, most superconducting applications today still use the
more traditional superconductors such as niobium-tin (Nb3Sn), which can be
made into flexible wires. The disadvantage is that they require cooling with
liquid helium, which is much more expensive than liquid nitrogen and must be
contained in more sophisticated cryostats.

Discuss the advantages of


using superconductors and
identify limitations to their use.

Medical applications
The first large-scale commercial application of superconductivity was in
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is a non-intrusive medical imaging
technique that creates a two-dimensional picture of, for example, tumours and
other abnormalities within the body or brain. This requires a person to be placed
inside a large and uniform electromagnet with a high magnetic field. Although
normal electromagnets can be used for this purpose, their resistance would

Figure 11.11.1 Patients are located inside the


bore of the superconducting
magnet of an MRI machine.
217

11

Superconductivity

dissipate a great deal of heat and have large power requirements. Superconducting
magnets, on the other hand, have almost no power requirements apart from that
required for cooling. Once electrical current flows in the superconducting wire,
the power supply can be switched off because the wires can be formed into a loop
and the current will persist indefinitely, as long as the temperature is kept below
the transition temperature of the superconductor.
Superconductors can also be used to make a device known as a superconducting
quantum interference device (SQUID). This device is extremely sensitive to small
magnetic fields and can detect magnetic fields from the heart (1010 tesla) and
even the brain (1013 tesla). For comparison, the Earths magnetic field is about
104 tesla. As a result, SQUIDs are used in non-intrusive medical diagnostics of
the brain.
Process information to discuss
possible applications of
superconductivity and the
effects of those applications on
computers, generators and
motors and transmission of
electricity through power grids.

Figure 11.11.2 ITER, a proposed test reactor


for future clean energy
production using nuclear
fusion

218

Scientific research
The traditional use of superconductors has been in scientific research requiring
high magnetic field electromagnets. One application of powerful superconducting
electromagnets is in high-energy particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron
Collider at CERN (see section 15.4), in which beams of protons and other
particles are accelerated to almost the speed of light and made to collide with each
other to create more elementary particles. It is expected that this research will
answer fundamental questions such as those about the origin of the mass of matter
that makes up the universe.
A future use of superconducting electromagnets is in nuclear
fusion energy generation using plasmas. A plasma is a fully ionised gas
that is obtained by heating it to millions of degrees and trapping it
inside a toroidal structure known as a tokamak by large
electromagnets. The nuclei of the ions fuse together, producing
energy. The operating gases of such reactors are deuterium and
tritium, the isotopes of hydrogen. Deuterium is abundant in water,
but tritium will be made inside the tokamak as a by-product of fusion
reactions. There is no long-term radioactive waste with this process,
which is why it is known as clean nuclear energy. Currently an
international research plasma reactorthe International
Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)is being built. The
aim of the project is to demonstrate that energy production is possible
with this method. A diagram of the projected reactor is shown in
Figure 11.11.2. The magnetic field coils on the ITER will be made
from superconductors and will need to only be powered once; the
current through them will be sustained indefinitely, as long as the coils
are kept cool.

Levitating trains
Magnetic levitation (maglev) trains have been built that use powerful electromagnets made from superconductors. The superconducting electromagnets are
mounted on the train and kept cool with liquid helium. As shown in Figure
11.11.3, normal electromagnets on a guideway beneath the train repel (or attract)
the superconducting electromagnets to levitate the train while pulling
it forwards. The superconducting electromagnets rely on the conventional
like-pole repulsionnot the Meissner effectto achieve levitation.

from ideas to
Implementation
Although such a superconducting maglev train has been built and has
demonstrated a top speed of 581kmh1, there are several issues that limit its
widespread commercial use. A strong magnetic field inside the train will exclude
passengers with pacemakers or devices that have magnetic data storage including
computers and credit cards. The powered conventional electromagnets on the
guideway that levitate and propel the train are expensive to run over long
distances, so alternative propulsion schemes may have to be used.

Power generation, transmission and storage


Superconductors have the potential to make electricity generation and
transmission more efficient, which will reduce energy costs and the emission
of greenhouse gases. Electricity generators used in coal-fired, nuclear and
hydroelectric power plants use electromagnets, which heat up due to the
resistance of their wires. Replacing these with superconducting wires will at least
halve the amount of power lost in the electromagnets, even when the energy
cost of making the liquid helium or nitrogen to keep the superconducting
electromagnets in the superconducting state is taken into account.
The transmission of power to homes and businesses is carried out by
high-voltage transmission lines. A high voltage enables a small current to be
passed through the transmission lines, to minimise the amount of resistive
heating in the wires. Nevertheless, there is some heating of the transmission
lines and a substantial energy loss associated with it. Superconducting
transmission lines will not suffer from such heating losses. Moreover, problems
associated with high-voltage leakage of power by ionisation of the air can be
overcome by reducing the voltage on the transmission lines and increasing the
current through them.
Energy production at, say, coal-fired power plants varies, depending on the
anticipated demand for electricity. At the moment, any overproduction of
energy is stored by pumping water to higher levels in a large reservoir. Releasing
this water into hydroelectric generators enables this stored energy to be retrieved
as electricity. The problem with this method is that it is highly inefficient.
A third of the excess energy is needed to operate the pumps to the reservoir.
Superconductors offer the possibility of storing an electrical current
indefinitely in superconducting rings. This current could be retrieved at any
time, provided the rings remain in the superconducting state. This technology
may also solve problems such as the variability of supply by solar energy
generation. Night-time power could be obtained from daytime storage of excess
solar power.

superconducting
levitation magnet

superconducting
propulsion
magnet

guideway
propulsion
magnet
vehicle

gliding
skid
guidance
and
braking
levitation
and
propulsion
magnet

armature
windings
(iron core)
guideway

Figure 11.11.3 Levitation of a train using onboard


superconducting magnets on a
guideway that propels it with
conventional electromagnets

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 11.1

Activity Manual, Page


100

Checkpoint 11.11
1
2

List the advantages and disadvantages of superconductors.


State an application of superconductors and explain why it is an improvement on existing technology.

219

11

Superconductivity

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 11

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.
Perform an investigation to
demonstrate magnetic
levitation.
Analyse information to explain
why a magnet is able to hover
above a superconducting
material that has reached the
temperature at which it is
superconducting.
Gather and process information
to describe how superconductors
and the effects of magnetic
fields have been applied to
develop a maglev train.
Process information to discuss
possible applications of
superconductivity and the
effects of those applications on
computers, generators and
motors and transmission of
electricity through power grids.

Activity 11.1: Applications of superconductivity


Magnetic levitation is the ability to control magnetic repelling forces in order to
balance objects above each other. You will demonstrate that stable levitation of
a permanent magnet can be achieved.
Equipment: 2 circular magnets with holes in the centre, superconductor kit
(optional), liquid nitrogen.
Discussion questions
1 Describe the orientation of the poles of the magnets in order for levitation
to occur.
2 Describe your attempts at achieving levitating magnets without the
supporting rod through the centre of the magnets. Discuss how this might
differ for a levitating magnet over a superconductor.

Figure 11.12.1 Set-up to have magnets levitate

220

Chapter summary

An X-ray diffraction pattern results from the


interference of X-rays to form a pattern of dots on
photographic film that can then be used to deduce the
crystal structure of a solid.
The Bragg law relates the X-ray wavelength to the
spacing d between crystal planes and the diffraction
angle by the equation:
n = 2dsin
where n is an integer.
Resistance in metals originates from collisions of
electrons with irregularities in the crystal lattice.
Crystal lattice vibrations are known as phonons.
Superconductivity is the total disappearance of electrical
resistance below a critical temperature Tc that depends
on the material of the superconductor.
The Meissner effect is the expulsion of the magnetic
field from the interior of a superconductor.
Magnetic fields can destroy superconductivity and
restore the normal conducting state.
Type-I superconductors undergo an abrupt transition to
the normal state above a single critical magnetic field.

from ideas to
Implementation

Type-II superconductors have two critical magnetic


fields. The transition to the normal state occurs above
the higher critical field.
Type-II superconductors form regions of normal
conductivity around which there are circulating
electrical currents, known as vortices.
Magnetic field lines penetrate the interior of a type-II
superconductor through the normal regions of the
vortices.
The BSC theory explains superconductivity by the
coupling of electron pairs, known as Cooper pairs,
through an interaction with a lattice phonon.
The energy gap is the minimum energy required to
destroy the superconducting state.
Applications of superconductors include electromagnets
for MRI machines, and superconducting quantum
interference devices (SQUIDs) for the detection of very
small magnetic fields.
Superconductors have potential applications in fusion
energy research, levitating trains and power generation
and transmission.

Review questions
Physically Speaking

Reviewing

The items in the columns are not in their correct order.


Match each of the key concepts with its closest definition.

1 Outline the work carried out by the Braggs in

Concept

Definition

Superconductivity

The point below which there is zero


resistance
The array of dots on a photographic
film created by X-ray diffraction
A burst of lattice vibrations
The state of matter in which electrical
resistance is zero
Allows a magnetic field to penetrate
while maintaining the superconducting
state
The mathematical relationship between
X-ray wavelength and crystal lattice
spacing
The temporary attraction between
electrons mediated by a lattice
deformation
Expels magnetic fields from the interior
The regular arrangement of atoms in
a solid

Crystal lattice
Laue pattern
Phonon
Bragg law

Tc

Meissner effect

Type-II superconductor
Cooper pairs

understanding the wavelength of X-rays.

2 Describe the property of crystals that make them


useful in understanding X-rays.

3 Explain the difference between constructive and


destructive interference.

4 Outline how the approximate wavelength of X-rays was


found. State the value achieved.

5 State the prediction by quantum physics of


resistance in crystal structures and explain why these
are not always seen.

6 Describe the role of phonons in superconductivity.


7 Outline the contributions of Kamerlingh Onnes to the
understanding of superconductivity.

8 Explain how the drop in temperature allows for zero


resistance.

9 Describe the Meissner effect.


221

11

Superconductivity

10 State the difference between a conductor and a


superconductor when a magnetic field is applied and
the temperature is reduced beyond the critical
temperature.

Solving Problems
19 Calculate the separation of diffraction grating slits
when a heliumneon laser (=633nm) is shone on
it. The angular position of the second-order bright
band is 30.

11 Explain why the superconducting transition is


exothermic.

12 Describe why a magnet levitates above a


superconductor that is below its critical temperature.

13 Explain why there is the formation of eddy currents on


the surface of superconductors.

14 Explain what is meant by a Cooper pair and describe

20

a Identify the critical temperature of each metal in


Figure 11.12.2.
b Identify which of the two plots (diamonds or
squares) shows a material with easily obtainable
superconducting properties. State your reasons.

15 Outline an energy argument as to why electrons travel


through a superconductor unimpeded when it is
below its critical temperature.

16 Outline the BCS theory.


17 Create a table to compare the advantages and

Resistance ()

how they are formed.

1000
800
600
400
200
0

disadvantages of superconductors.

Re

222

iew

Q uesti o

18 List applications of superconductors in everyday life.

50

100

150

Temperature (K)

Figure 11.12.2

200

250

from ideas to
Implementation

PHYSICS FOCUS

H3. Assesses the impact of particular


advances in physics on the
development of technologies

Semiconductors to
Superconductors

H5. Identifies possible future directions


of physics research

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

Silicon transistor

TTL Quad gate

8-bit Microprocessor

32-bit Microprocessor

1 transistor

16 transistors

4500 transistors

275000
transistors

1990s

2000s

32-bit Microprocessor 64-bit Microprocessor

3100000
transistors

592000000
transistors

Figure 11.12.3 Moores law states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 2 years.
Since the introduction of the commercial transistor in
the late 1940s, the size and processing ability of
computer chips has changed dramatically. According
to Moores law, the number of transistors on a chip
doubles every 2 years. But there is a limitthe
physical size of atoms.
In the distant future, a new generation of
computers that make use of quantum physics may
overcome the size limitations of current (classical)
computer technology. Quantum computers allow for
processes to happen simultaneously rather than
sequentially as in classic computers. For example, to
factorise a 400 digit number would take a quantum
computer a few minutes, but it would take current
computers billions of years to do the same calculation.
Another distant technology that may speed up our
current limitations on computation speed are the
superconducting switching devices known as
Josephson junctions. Although not the only technology
being researched for future computers, this is one
to watch.

1 Define what a semiconductor is.


2 Explain the significance of doping semiconductors.
3 State the significance of semiconductors in the
computing industry.
4 Outline the advantages of silicon over the
previously used germanium.
5 Explain why the pn junction is important to
modern electronics.
6 Discuss the impacts the pn junction has had
on society.
7 Analyse the implication of a limit to the size of
silicon chips.
8 Discuss the need to involve quantum mechanics
in the next generation computers.
9 Describe why quantum computers are so much
faster than standard computers.

Research
10 Research and outline how the Josephson junction
works.
11 Research and describe the possible technologies
that can take over from semiconductors.
12 Outline the role of nano-carbon tubes in speeding
up processing ability.

223

The review contains questions in a similar style and proportion


to the HSC Physics examination. Marks are allocated to
each question up to a total of 25marks. It should take you
approximately 45 minutes to complete this review.

Multiple choice
(1 mark each)
1 Predict the direction of the electron in Figure 11.13.1
as
A
B
C
D

II

III

Conductor
Insulator
Insulator
Semiconductor

Insulator
Conductor
Semiconductor
Conductor

Semiconductor
Semiconductor
Conductor
Insulator

The graph in Figure 11.13.3 shows how the


resistance of a material varies with temperature.
Identify each of the parts labelled on the graph.

A
B
C
D

224

Figure 11.13.1

An electron in a magnetic field

The diagrams in Figure 11.13.2 represent


semiconductors, conductors and insulators. The
diagrams show the conduction and valence bands,
and the energy gaps. Which answer correctly labels
each of the diagrams?

A
B
C
D

II

III

Critical
temperature
Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature
Normal material

Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature
Normal material

Normal material

Superconductor
material

Figure 11.13.2

Normal material
Superconductor
material
Critical
temperature

II

II

Figure 11.13.3

III

Energy bands

Resistance ()

it enters the magnetic field.


Straight up
Left
Right
Down

III

Temperature (K)

Resistance varies with temperature

from ideas to
Implementation
4

Experimental data from black body radiation during


Plancks time showed that predicted radiation levels
were not achieved in reality. Planck best described
this anomaly by saying that:
A classical physics was wrong.
B radiation that is emitted and absorbed is
quantised.
C he had no explanation for it.
D quantum mechanics needed to be developed.
Figure 11.13.4 shows a cathode ray tube that has
been evacuated. Which answer correctly names each
of the labelled features?

III

Figure 11.13.4 An evacuated cathode ray tube

C
D

Explain, with reference to atomic models, why


cathode rays can travel through metals. (2marks)

Outline how the cathode ray tube in a TV works


in order to produce the viewing picture. (2 marks)

Give reasons why CRT TVs use magnetic coils and


CROs use electric plates in order to deflect the
beams, given that both methods work. (2 marks).

In your studies you were required to gather


information to describe how the photoelectric effect
is used in photocells.
a Explain how you determined which material was
relevant and reliable.
b Outline how the photoelectric effect is used in
photocells. (3 marks)

10

Justify the introduction of semiconductors to replace


thermionic devices. (4 marks)

11

Magnetic levitation trains are used in Germany and


Japan. The trains in Germany use conventional
electromagnets, whereas the one in Japan uses
superconductors. Compare and contrast the two
systems. (3 marks)

12

a


b

II

A
B

Extended response

II

III

Striations
Faradays
dark space
Crookes
dark space
Cathode

Cathode
Striations

Anode
Cathode

Anode

Faradays
dark space
Striations

Faradays
dark space

Determine the frequency of red light, which has


a wavelength = 660 nm. (Speed of light
c = 3.00 108 m s1)
Calculate the energy of a photon that is emitted
with this wavelength. (Plancks constant
h = 6.63 1034 J s) (4 marks)

225

4
Context

Figure 12.0.1

226

Bubble chamber tracks


formed by the passage of
ionising particles through
a liquid that is kept at a
temperature above its boiling
point. The curved trajectories
are the result of charged
particles interacting with
a magnetic field, and allow
information concerning the
charge and mass of the
particles to be determined.

Quanta to
Quarks
We all talk about quantum leaps, but did you know that Max Planck made the first
quantum leap in 1901 when he introduced the idea of the quantisation of energy?
At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists were confronted by an accumulation
of experimental observations and explanations that lacked unification. Black body
radiation, the photoelectric effect, radioactivity and the emission of sharp spectral
lines by atoms in a gas discharge tube could not be adequately explained within the
framework of Newtonian classical physics.
A new physics, quantum physics, was born. The story has some inspiring
characters and storylines: how Niels Bohr synthesised the works of Planck, Einstein
and Rutherford and proposed the now commonly recognised RutherfordBohr
atomic model, and so provided an explanation for spectral lines; and how Louis de
Broglie in 1924 took Plancks idea, reversed it and proposed a totally crazy idea that
all matter has wave properties, which, in turn, gave birth to quantum mechanics.
The investigations into radioactivity led to the artificial manufacture of elements
and the dawn of the atomic age. The development of particle accelerators often
referred to as atom smashers in the media, led to the discovery of a particle zoo,
as a plethora of new subatomic particles were identified. Today, the quest to
understand the building blocks and forces of nature continues, with the building of
the Large Hadron Collider (referred to as the LHC), which is designed to produce
conditions that mimic the environment present just after the birth of the universe.

Figure 12.0.2 The blue glow in the core of

Inquiry activity
A chain reaction

a water-cooler nuclear results


from the radiation emitted
when energetic charged
particles travel faster than
light through water.

Obtain some scrap paper! Gather together a crowd of peopleyour class will do
the more the better! And make sure you have safety glasses for all! Screw up the
paper into hundreds of balls, each about the size of a ping-pong ball. Make sure
everyone has at least six balls of paper and then gather everyone in close together.
These are the rules of the chain reaction game.
1 Safety glasses on at all times!
2 If you are hit by a paper ball you throw two balls of paper high up into the air.
Your teacher can lob in the first paper ball. It makes a great video clip!
You can also vary the rules. For example, try throwing one paper ball when you
are hit rather than two. Have fun!

227

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr
Pieces of a jigsaw!

Rutherford, Bohr, spectra, orbit,


spectrum, quantum number, Plancks
constant, quanta, photon, absorption
spectra, emission spectra, Balmer
series, Rydbergs constant, transition,
stationary state, Zeeman effect

By the beginning of the 20th century a large number of experimental


facts had accumulated that could not be explained by existing
theories:
the discovery of ordered series in atomic spectra
the photoelectric effect
radioactivity
evidence that the atom had internal structure.

12.1 Atomic timeline

Ernest
Rutherford

nce, a distinguished
stranger, amazed by
his unscholarly accent and
appearance, mistook him
for an Australian farmer.
At the University of
Manchester, Rutherford
would proclaim to his
recruits that: all science
is either physics
or stamp collecting.

Figure 12.1.1

228

Ernest Rutherford is most well known for his


alpha-particle scattering experiments. He
was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry
in 1908 for his work in investigations into
the disintegration of the elements, and
the chemistry of radioactive substances.

In the early 20th century many prominent scientists


doubted the existence of atoms. Today atomic theory
is widely accepted and taught throughout science
curricula, forming the foundation upon which
scientists, technologists and engineers understand the
properties of matter. The ideas underpinning atomic
models have changed over time, driven on by the
interplay between available technology, theoreticians
and experimentalists. The history of the atom
originates in Greece more 2000 years ago and the
quest to reveal its inner structure continues today.
The atomic age was born, ushered in by the
development and construction of atomic weapons,
nuclear reactors and particle accelerators.

quanta to
quarks
Table 12.1.1

Atomic timeline

Democritus
(c460 bcec.370 bce)

He was a Greek philosopher who proposed that there was a limit to how
small one could divide matterthe smallest indivisible particle was
called an atom (atomos, Greek meaning without slices or indivisible).

Aristotle
(384 bce322 bce)
John Dalton
(17661844)

He criticised Democritus, and proposed a model based upon four


elementsearth, air, fire and water. His view held for some 2000 years.

Henri Becquerel
(18521908)
JJ Thomson
(18561940)

In 1896 he discovered that certain elements emitted radiation and


decayed, suggesting that the atom was divisible.

Ernest Rutherford
(18711937)

In 1911 he proposed the Rutherford planetary model of the atom,


based upon the results of Geiger and Marsdens scattering experiments
at the Cavendish Laboratories.

Niels Bohr
(18851962)

In 1913 Bohr proposed the RutherfordBohr model also commonly


called Bohrs model. Bohr provided a set of three postulates to address
the issues raised by Rutherfords earlier model, and this led to the
development of a mathematical model to account for the spectra of the
hydrogen atom.

Louis de Broglie
(18921987)

In 1924 de Broglie introduced the concept of matter waves. This


concept provided a mechanism for electrons to inhabit a stable orbit by
having an integral number of wavelengths fitting around the
circumference of the orbit, forming a standing wave.

James Chadwick
(18911974)

In 1932 he reported the discovery of the neutron. Rutherford some 12


years earlier had proposed its existence, and this discovery completed
the constituents of the basic atomic model with which most people are
familiar today.

Experimental
surprise

A Scottish teacher, Dalton in 1801 proposed his atomic model, based


upon his studies in chemistry that:
Matter is composed of small indivisible atoms.
Elements contain only one type of atom.
Different elements contain different atoms.
Compounds contain more than one type of atom.

utherfords radium produced


alpha particles, and these
massive particles travelled at
approximately 1.610+7ms1.
Rutherford in a later lecture
described the extraordinary
backscattering of alpha particles
as the most incredible event
that has ever happened to me in
my life. It was almost as
incredible as if you had fired
a 15-inch shell at a piece of
tissue paper and it came back
and hit you.

In 1904 he proposed the plum pudding model of the atom in which


electrons were embedded in a positive sphere like plums in a pudding.
This model was based upon Thomsons experimental work and his
discovery of electrons in 1897.

Checkpoint 12.1
Outline the main atomic models proposed between ancient times and 1913.

~1010 m

12.2 Rutherfords model of the atom


In 1907, New Zealander Ernest Rutherford (18711937) moved to the
University of Manchester in England where, with Johannes Geiger (18821945)
and Ernest Marsden (18891970), he continued his earlier work on firing alpha
particles at metal foils.
They were shocked to find that approximately one alpha particle in
every 8000 was deflected by the platinum and gold foils through angles greater
than 90. The Thomson (plum pudding) model of the atom (Figure12.2.1)
predicted only small scattering because the atom had no large concentrations of
charge or mass to deflect the massive and fast-moving alpha particles. A new
atomic model was needed.

electron

Figure 12.2.1

positively
charged
material

Thomsons plum pudding


atomic model

229

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Structure

Discuss the structure of the


Rutherford model of the atom,
the existence of the nucleus
and electron orbits.

The alpha particle experiments posed many questions. Rutherford hypothesised


that for alpha particles to be deflected as observed, it would require a massive,
but tiny, positively charged charge centre (nucleus), approximately 1015 m in
diameter with a set of orbiting electrons (like planets orbiting the Sun). From
Einsteins analysis of Brownian motion, the radius of an atom was approximately
1010m, meaning that the tiny nucleus contains 99.9% of the mass and the
atom is mostly empty space.
By 1910 Rutherford had formalised his atomic model with mathematical
equations and directed Geiger and Marsden to thoroughly test his model. The
series of experiments between 1908 and 1911 provided clear evidence that
Thomsons model was not correct. Interestingly, the scientific community was
not persuaded or even interested. The two people who brought Rutherfords
model into mainstream science were Niels Bohr (18851962) and a young
member of Rutherfords team Henry Moseley (18871915).

Limitations
Despite the success of Rutherfords planetary atomic model in explaining the
scattering of alpha particles, the model failed to explain other important
questions:
What is the nucleus made of?
How are the orbits of the electrons arranged around the nucleus?
What keeps the negatively charged electrons from losing energy and spiralling
into the positive nucleus?

a
++

+ +
+

b
nucleus

Figure 12.2.2

Scattering deflections
predicted by (a) Thomsons
and (b) Rutherfords atomic
models

Rutherford proposed that electrical attraction provided the centripetal force


to keep electrons in orbit. However, orbiting electrons are accelerating, and
Maxwells classical electromagnetic theory predicted that accelerating electrons
would radiate away their energy in a fraction of a second and spiral into the
nucleus, therefore Rutherfords atomic model was not stable. Additionally,
Rutherfords planetary model could not explain the observed line spectra of
excited gases.
viewing screen

pa

rticle

source containing radon

b
metal
foil

particle

+
nucleus

Figure 12.2.3

230

The components used by Geiger and Marsden to measure the deflection


of alpha particles fired at thin metal-foil targets

quanta to
quarks

Checkpoint 12.2
1
2

Explain why Thomsons plum pudding model only predicted small deflections in alpha particles passing through
a thin metal foil.
Outline the significance of Marsden and Geigers scattering experiments to the development of the Rutherford
atomic model.

12.3 Plancks quantised energy


Max Planck (18581947) in 1901 proposed a theory to model the
spectrum of a black body (see section 9.2). This theory dictated that the energy
of oscillations of atoms or molecules cannot have just any value; they can only
possess a discrete amount of energy that is a multiple of the minimum value
related to the frequency of oscillation by the equation:

Discuss Plancks contribution


to the concept of quantised
energy.

E = hf
Plancks assumption suggests that the energy of any vibration could only be
a whole number multiple of hf:
E = nhf
where n = 1, 2, 3, E is energy (in joules), n is called a quantum number, h is
Plancks constant (with a value of 6.63 1034 Js) and f is the frequency in
hertz (s1).
This would mean that energy was not a continuous quantity as had been
believed, but rather that it was quantised into discrete packets. Interestingly, at the
time of this work Planck considered this idea more of a mathematical device to
obtain the right answer rather than an actual physical reality of nature.
In 1905, Einstein extended the concept of quantisation and proposed a new
theory of light. Einstein took Plancks suggestion that the vibrational energy of
atoms or molecules in a radiating object was quantised with energy. He argued
that the vibrational energy of the atoms or molecules could only change by
a multiple of hf and therefore proposed that light would be emitted in discrete
packets (quanta) also obeying the equation E = hf.
Gilbert Lewis (18751946) in 1926 named these discrete packets of light
photons (from photos, Greek meaning light).

ramp

stairs

Figure 12.3.1

This simple analogy shows


the difference between
continuous and quantised
energy states. On the ramp
the box can have any
amount of potential energy,
but the box on a staircase
can only have discrete
amounts of potential energy.

Worked example
Question
A photon has an energy of 2.8eV.
a Calculate its energy in joules.

b Calculate the frequency of the photon.

Solution
a You will recall from section 10.2 that

1eV = 1.602 1019joules

So: 2.8 1.602 1019 = 4.5 1019 joules

b Now rearranging E = hf and substituting in the energy and Plancks constant we obtain:
f=

E 4.5 1019
=
= 6.8 1014 Hz
h 6.63 1034

231

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Quantised Energy?

hy dont we notice that energy comes in discrete packets or quanta


in our everyday life? The value of Plancks constant is very small;
therefore, for large everyday objects such as a cricket ball or a car, the
energy appears to be a continuous quantity. At the molecular and atomic
level, however, the quantisation of energy becomes very apparent when
energy is absorbed or emitted.

Checkpoint 12.3
1
2

Outline the idea Planck proposed to explain black body radiation.


Explain the difference between the use of E = hf by Planck and Einstein.

12.4 Spectral analysis

spectroscopes

n a spectroscope, light from


a source passes through a slit
and enters the collimator tube.
The lens at the end of the
collimator makes the light parallel
before it illuminates the grating.
The diffraction grating is viewed
through a small telescope mounted
on a rotatable platform so that the
angle of the observed colour or
spectral line can be measured.

When light is passed through a prism or diffraction grating, the constituent colours
present in the light are revealed in the spectrum produced. The prism separates
the light using the property of refraction, whereas the diffraction grating uses the
property of interference. The traditional device used by scientists to examine
spectra is called a spectroscope. Modern instruments are called spectrometers.
There are two types of spectra: absorption spectra and emission spectra.
Absorption spectra can be produced by passing white light (a continuous
spectrum) through a cool gas. The atoms or molecules in the gas will absorb
certain specific wavelengths (colours) of light. The atom that absorbed the
light is now in an excited state and will spontaneously emit a photon of light,
usually in a different direction. Therefore the original beam of light will now
have certain wavelengths depleted, and these will appear as a series of dark
lines when observed through a spectroscope.
Emission spectra can be produced when a gas is excited. This can be
achieved by heating the gas or by passing an electrical current through a low
pressure gas. The light produced when viewed with a spectroscope will often
be made up of a series of bright coloured lines.
Hydrogen absorption spectrum

source

collimator

slit

lens

grating

telescope

eye

Figure 12.4.1

232

A spectroscope showing
the major components

Hydrogen emission spectrum

400 nm

Figure 12.4.2

700 nm

Absorption and emission


spectra of hydrogen

H alpha line
656 nm
Transition n = 3 to n = 2

quanta to
quarks
Ancient peoples have observed the emission colours of a range of materials.
A sprinkling of common salt (sodium chloride) into a flame produces an intense
golden flame, and during the smelting of copper ore the flames in the furnace are
often coloured an intense vivid green.
Spectra are a window into the hidden atomic structure. Each element has its
own unique spectral fingerprint. Chemists and students of chemistry still use
the flame test to identify the constituent elements present in chemical samples.
A continuous emission spectrum can be produced by a hot object, forming
a rainbow or continuum. For example, if you look at the light emitted from a
white-hot piece of metal through a prism or diffraction grating you will see a full
rainbow of colours.
Anders ngstrm (18141874) was the first to make detailed measurements
of the visible spectrum of hydrogen, and in 1885 Johann Balmer (18251898)
commenced a detailed study of the visible emission spectrum for
hydrogen, which is now referred to as the Balmer series.
Table 12.4.1 The Balmer series for hydrogen
Johannes Rydberg (18541919) generalised Balmers
Spectral line
Balmers generalised equation
equation:
1 1
1
=R 2 2
1
1
1
Name Colour
(nm)

n f ni
= R 2 2

nf ni
nf
ni
H

Red

where is the wavelength of the spectral line, R is Rydbergs


Blue-green
H
constant (1.097 107 m1), nf is the final state of the electron
Blue-violet
H
and ni is the initial state of the electron.
Violet
H
The emission spectrum in Figure 12.4.2 is the Balmer series
emission spectrum for hydrogen corresponding to the values of
nf = 2, and ni = 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 in the generalised Balmer equation.
The improvements in experimental techniques and technology for detecting
infra-red and ultraviolet radiation led to the discovery of additional spectral lines
and other spectral series. For example, Theodore Lyman (18741954) discovered
the first spectral line in the Lyman series in 1906 and took another 8 years to
detect the remaining lines. The generalised Balmer equation could be used
to calculate accurately the wavelength of the spectral lines for all the newly
discovered series.

Worked example
Question
Using the generalised form of Balmers equation, calculate the wavelength of the emitted
photon for a transition between n = 5 and n = 3.

Solution
Using the generalised form of Balmers equation to calculate

1
:

1 1
1
1 1
= R 2 2 = 1.097 107 2 2 = 7.80 105 m1
3 5

n f ni

Now take the inverse to determine the wavelength of the emitted photon:
= 1.28 106 m

656.3

486.1

434.0

410.2

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n f ni

The test
of time

ydbergs constant R was


initially determined empirically
from spectroscopy, and then
theoretically by Niels Bohr, who
used a mixture of classical and
quantum ideas. Later its value was
again calculated using more
fundamental constants in terms
of quantum mechanics:
R =

mee 4
8o2h 3c

233

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

E=0
0.85
1.5
3.4

n=4

ionised atom
(continuous energy levels)

n=5

n=3
Paschen
series

n=2

excited
states

Balmer
series

Energy (eV)

10

Figure 12.4.3

Energy level diagram for the hydrogen


atom with the Lyman, Balmer and
Paschen series emission transitions and
associated spectra for the Balmer series

13.6

ground state

n=1

15

Lyman
series

Table 12.4.2 Spectral series associated with the hydrogen atom


Series

Spectral region

nf

ni

Lyman
Balmer
Paschen
Brackett
Pfund

Ultraviolet
Visible and UV
Infra-red
Infra-red
Infra-red

1
2
3
4
5

2,
3,
4,
5,
6,

Discovered
3,
4,
5,
6,
7,

4,
5,
6,
7,
8,

5
6
7
8
9

19061914
1885
1908
1922
1924

Worked example
Question
a Predict the values for nf and ni for the transition of the second longest wavelength
emission in the Lyman series.
b Calculate the wavelength for the second-longest wavelength in the Lyman series.

Solution
a The second-longest wavelength in the Lyman series will correspond to the secondlowest energy transition. In the Lyman series we know that nf is always 1. Thus
ni=2 will correspond to the lowest energy transition and ni = 3 will correspond to
the second-lowest energy transition. Therefore nf =1 and ni = 3.
1
b Using the generalised form of Balmers equation to calculate :

1 1
1
1
7 1
= R 2 2 = 1.097 10 2 2 = 9.75 106 m1
1 3

n n
f

Now take the inverse to determine the wavelength of the emitted photon for the
transition between ni = 3 and nf = 1.
= 1.03 107 m

234

quanta to
quarks
Worked example
Question
Using the information in the table, construct an energy level diagram for n=1 to n=5
for the hydrogen atom.
a On your diagram, draw and label the Lyman, Balmer and Paschen series.
b Identify the values of ni and nf for a transition of an electron between energy
levels that would absorb the highest frequency photon for the Paschen series,
based on the energy values provided.

Principal quantum number (n)

Energy (eV)

1
2
3
4
5

13.6
3.4
1.51
0.85
0.54

c Identify the values of ni and nf for the transition of an electron between energy
levels that would emit the highest energy photon for the Balmer series.

Solution
a Refer to Figure 12.4.3 and construct a similar diagram for the given values n=1
to n=5.
b From your diagram for part a, we see that for the Paschen series ni = 3 to nf = 5 is
the greatest possible jump in energy, therefore this transition would absorb the
highest energy photon.
c From your diagram for part a, we see that for the Balmer series ni = 5 to nf = 2 is
the greatest possible jump in energy, therefore this transition would emit the
highest energy photon.

Checkpoint 12.4
1
2
3
4
5
6

Recall the two types of spectra.


List the names of five spectral series.
Recall the basic process that produces the spectral series.
Explain the relationship between the energy of an emitted photon and quantum number n.
Calculate the wavelength of a photon emitted by an electron jumping from n=3 to n=2.
Outline the spectral series that corresponds to a transition from n=3 to n=2.

12.5 Bohrs model of the atom


Niels Bohr (18851962), a Danish physicist, spent a short time at the Cavendish
Laboratory, Cambridge, working with JJ Thomson before joining Rutherfords
team at the University of Manchester in 1912. Bohr focused his attention on the
planetary model and was equally impressed by both its successes and its obvious
limitations. Bohr set to work and built upon Rutherfords model by synthesising
a mixture of Plancks quantum theory and classical physics.

Bohrs postulates
In 1913 Bohr announced the revised planetary model of a hydrogen atom based
upon the quantisation of energy and angular momentum of the electron. His
new RutherfordBohr model included a set of three postulates to address the
identified limitations of Rutherfords model.

Figure 12.5.1

Niels Bohr

235

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Analyse the significance of the


hydrogen spectrum in the
development of Bohrs model
of the atom.
Define Bohrs postulates.

A Square peg
in a Round
Hole?

espite Bohr showing all the


signs of becoming a theorist
in an experimentalist laboratory,
Rutherford responded to
comments by saying, Bohrs
different. Hes a football player!

Bohrs postulates for his atomic model


1 Electrons exist in stable orbits. An electron can exist in any of several special
circular orbits with no emission of radiation. These orbits are called
stationary states.
2 Electrons absorb or emit specific quanta of energy when they transition
between stationary states (orbits). In contradiction to classical
electromagnetic theory, a sudden transition of an electron between two
stationary states will produce an emission or absorption of quantised
radiation (a photon), described by the PlanckEinstein relation.
3 Angular momentum of electrons is quantised. An electron in a stationary
state (orbit) has a quantised angular momentum that can take only values of
nh where n is the principal quantum number.
2

Structure of the RutherfordBohr model


The RutherfordBohr model has a small, positively charged nucleus that
contains most of the atoms mass. The electrons orbit the nucleus in classical
circular paths. The electrons do not radiate energy continuously as predicted by
Maxwells classical electromagnetic theory (i.e. accelerating charges will radiate
electromagnetic waves, which would result in the electron spiralling into the
nucleus), due to the quantisation conditions of energy associated with each
electron orbit. When an electron jumps to a higher or lower orbit it will absorb
or emit a quantum of energy in the form of a photon.
Despite being a hybrid theory that spanned both classical and the
quantum physics, the RutherfordBohr model proved to be extremely successful
in explaining many experimental observations.

Checkpoint 12.5
1
2

Explain the importance of stationary states to Bohrs model.


Summarise the role of Planck and Einsteins concept of quantisation to the development of Bohrs atomic model.

12.6 Bohrs explanation


of the Balmer series
Diagrammatic illustration
Lets consider the Balmer series emission spectra for a hydrogen atom. When
an excited electron in a stationary state (orbit) of ni>3 jumps down to the
stationary state (orbit) nf=2, a photon is emitted. The energy of this photon
will be equal to the energy difference E between these two stationary states:
Energy of emitted photon = E = Ei Ef
Process and present
diagrammatic information to
illustrate Bohrs explanation
of the Balmer series.

236

This photon will have a characteristic frequency and wavelength, which can
be calculated using the relationships E = hf and v = f (where v is c the speed of
light) rearranged in the forms:
E
c
f =
and =
h
f

quanta to
quarks
Balmer series

Figure 12.6.1 illustrates the RutherfordBohr atomic model


electron transitions for the Balmer spectral series.

Bohrs mathematical model


Bohrs model was not simply a diagrammatic representation of
an atom. He backed up his model with a mathematical framework
that was based upon both classical and quantum ideas. Most
importantly, the model was supported by experimental observations.

n=1

nucleus

n=2
n=3

Quantised energy of the stationary states


of the Bohr atom

n=4
n=5
n=6

The expressions for the quantisation of the angular momentum and


radii can be used to derive a quantised expression for energy:
1
E n = 2 E1
n
Figure 12.6.1 Diagrammatic representation of Bohrs explanation

Theoretically determining spectral lines

of the Balmer line series for the hydrogen spectrum

Now recall Bohrs second postulate concerning the emission or absorption of


a specific quantum of energy when an electron transitions between stationary
states (orbits). This obeys the PlanckEinstein relation hf = Ei Ef.
1
If we now substitute in E n = 2 E1 we obtain:
n
1
1
E between stationary states = hf = 2 E 1 2 E 1
ni
nf
If we take out the common factor of E1 and make f the subject, we obtain
the expression:
E1 1
1
f =
2 2
h nf ni
c
Using the relationship v = f where v is c the speed of light, we have f = .

Substituting this we obtain the expression:


c E1 1
1
=
2 2

h nf ni
Dividing through by c we obtain a theoretically derived expression in a form
that is equivalent to the generalised Balmer equation:
1 E1 1
1
=
2 2

hc nf ni

Describe how Bohrs postulates


led to the development of
a mathematical model to
account for the existence
of the hydrogen spectrum:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n f ni

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 12.1

Activity Manual, Page


105

The expression E1|hc corresponds to Rydbergs constant and, when evaluated,


agrees with the experimentally derived value. Bohrs theory had successfully
provided an explanation for some spectral phenomena and permitted the
calculation of Rydbergs constant. The theoretical derivation of Balmers equation
was a major accomplishment and provided strong support for the Rutherford
Bohr atomic model of the hydrogen atom.

237

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Worked example
Question
An electron makes a transition between the energy levels 0.85eV and 3.40eV in
a hydrogen atom.
a Determine to which spectral series this photon would belong.
b Calculate the wavelength of the emitted photon without using Balmers equation.
c Predict if the spectral line associated with this transition is visible to the
human eye.
d Evaluate the principal quantum numbers (n) to which each energy level
corresponds.
e Substitute your values of ni and nf into the generalised Balmer equation and
calculate the wavelength of the emitted photon. (This should be the same value
as in part b.)

Solution
a From Figure 12.4.3, the energy level 0.85 corresponds to n = 4 and energy level
and 3.40eV corresponds to n =2. The n = 2 tell us that this transition belongs to
the Balmer series.
b The difference between these two energies corresponds to the energy of the
emitted photon, E = 2.55eV. Convert this to the SI unit joules (remember
1eV = 1.6021019J).
E = 2.55 1.602 1019 = 4.091019 J

Now, using E = hf, we can calculate the frequency of the emitted photon with this
energy:
E 4.09 1019
f= =
= 6.17 1014 Hz
h 6.626 1034
c
Using the relationship v = f where v is c the speed of light, we have = .
f
c 3.0 108
7
= =
= 4.86 10 m
f 6.17 1014

c Light of this wavelength is in the visible range.


d From Figure 12.4.3, the energy level 0.85 corresponds to n=4 and the energy level
3.40eV corresponds to n=2.
1
e Using the generalised form of Balmers equation to calculate :

1 1
1
1 1
= R 2 2 = 1.097 107 2 2 = 2 05 106 m1
2 4

n n
f

Now take the inverse to determine the wavelength of the emitted photon for the
transition between ni = 4 and nf = 2.
= 4.86 107 m

Checkpoint 12.6
Explain the relationships between Bohrs atomic model and observed line spectra.

238

quanta to
quarks

12.7 Limitations of the


RutherfordBohr model
The RutherfordBohr model provided a simple visual model and accurately
predicted line spectra for the hydrogen atom. It synthesised classical mechanics
with the concept of quantisation, and addressed a number of experimental
observations. Despite its successes, it was nevertheless a hybrid model and many
experimental observations remained unresolved.

Discuss the limitations


of the Bohr model of the
hydrogen atom.

The spectra of larger atoms


The observed spectral series of larger atoms appeared to present patterns that
could be explained in a similar manner to the hydrogen atom. Despite the efforts
of Bohr and his colleagues, they were unable to develop an arrangement of
stationary states (orbits) that matched the experimental observations. Atoms
larger than hydrogen have more than one electron, and these electrons were
obviously interacting with each other in a complex manner. Bohrs simple
quantised planetary model explained only the hydrogen atom, the helium ion
(He+) and the lithium ion (Li2+), which all have single electrons orbiting the
nucleus.
a

PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 12.2

Activity Manual, Page


110

Sr

Ba

Ca
400

Figure 12.7.1

450

500

550
600
Wavelength (nm)

650

700

Emission spectra for (a) stronium, (b) barium and (c) calcium

The relative intensity of spectral lines


The spectra of the hydrogen atom and larger atoms all displayed three identifiable
types of spectral lines based upon their width. These were categorised as sharp (s)
lines, primary (p) lines and diffuse (d) lines. Also within these categories the
Bohrs postulates provided no
intensity of the individual lines varied.
explanation for these observations.

Figure 12.7.2

750

Emission spectrum for hydrogen showing the differences in relative widths

Measuring the
Magnetic field
of our Sun

stronomers use a spectroscope


and the Zeeman effect to
measure the strength of the
magnetic field associated with the
surface structures of the Sun.
The splitting of the lines in the
hydrogen spectrum is proportional
to the magnetic field strength.

239

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

The existence of fine and hyperfine spectral lines

Universal units
for Length
and Time

he plaque on the Pioneer space


probe used the hyperfine
transition of hydrogen, which is the
most abundant element in the
universe, to define a base unit for
length and time.

The fine structure of closely spaced spectral lines that are 0.10.5 nm apart
is a result of an additional property of the electron called spin, which
was proposed in 1925 by Ralph Kronig (19041995). In 1881, using
interferometry, Albert Michelson (18521931) observed that some even
finer spectral lines (called hyperfine) existed; these were about 0.001nm
apart. The observation was not addressed until 1924, when Wolfgang Pauli
(19001958) proposed the existence of a small nuclear magnetic moment
Bohrs model did not
caused by a non-spherical atomic nucleus.
provide any explanation for these observed phenomena.
a

0.1 nm
0.1 nm

0.001 nm

Figure
12.7.3
0.001
nm
Normal spectral line:

With no magnetic field


appliedsingle spectral
line observed.

Normal Zeeman effect:

Magnetic field applied


triple spectral line observed.
Central line polarised parallel
to applied magnetic field.
Other two lines polarised
perpendicular to applied field.

Anomalous Zeeman effect:


When magnetic field applied
more spectral lines observed.

Figure 12.7.4 A single spectral line splits into more


lines when the source is subjected
to a strong magnetic field.

A comparison of (a) fine structure and (b) hyperfine structure

The Zeeman effect


In 1862, Michael Faraday placed a sodium flame between the poles of
a magnet to see if the bright sharp spectral lines were influenced by the
magnetic field, but he observed no change. Some 30 years later (in the
1890s) Pieter Zeeman (18651943) repeated the experiment using both
a more advanced spectroscope and a stronger magnetic field. Zeeman found
that the spectral lines were indeed influenced and he observed that the
previously single lines had each split into three. Classical physics and Bohrs
model could provide an explanation for these triplets. This was called the
Zeeman effect. In 1897 Zeeman used an even stronger magnetic field and
found that the triplet lines were also split. The additional splitting was also
associated with the yet to be discovered spin property of electrons.
Bohrs atomic model provided some explanation for the normal
Zeeman effect, but none for the anomalous Zeeman effect.

Checkpoint 12.7
Compare the origins and observed separations of the splitting in the normal Zeeman effect and the hyperfine spectral lines.

240

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES

quanta to
quarks

CHAPTER 12

This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 12.1: Hydrogen and the atom


Connect a high-voltage source to a low-pressure hydrogen discharge tube, and
observe the emitted light through a spectroscope. Identify the visible part of the
hydrogen spectrum.
Equipment: low-pressure hydrogen
gas discharge tube, gas discharge tube
high-voltage power supply,
spectroscope.
Discussion questions
1 List the wavelengths of the
emission lines in the visible part
of the hydrogen spectrum.
2 Identify the energy levels of the
electron transition that creates
these wavelengths.
3 Outline Bohrs explanation of the
Balmer series of emission lines.

Figure 12.8.1

Perform a first-hand
investigation to observe the
visible components of the
hydrogen spectrum.
Process and present
diagrammatic information to
illustrate Bohrs explanation of
the Balmer series.
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n f ni

Experiment set-up and the


visible emission spectral
lines of hydrogen

Activity 12.2: Problems with the RutherfordBohr


model
In this activity you will look at the difficulties with the RutherfordBohr model
in explaining certain observations.
Discussion questions
1 Identify the ways in which this model is an improvement over the
previously accepted model of the atom.
2 Explain the limitations of this model.

Analyse secondary information


to identify the difficulties with
the RutherfordBohr model,
including its inability to
completely explain:
the spectra of larger atoms
the relative intensity of
spectral lines
the existence of hyperfine
spectral lines
the Zeeman effect.

241

12

242

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Chapter summary

Atomic theory had its origins in Greece more than


2000 years ago with ideas put forward by Democritus
and Aristotle.
JJ Thomson in 1904 proposed the plum pudding
model comprising a positive sphere in which the
electrons were distributed like plums in a pudding.
Ernest Rutherford in 1911 used the results of Geiger
and Marsdens scattering experiments to propose a
Rutherfords planetary model. Rutherfords model
comprised a massive, positively charged nucleus with
a set of orbiting electrons (like planets orbiting the Sun),
inferring that the atom is mostly empty space.
Despite the success of Rutherfords planetary atomic
model in explaining the scattering of alpha particles,
the model failed to explain:
what the nucleus is made of
how the orbits of the electrons are arranged around
the nucleus
what keeps the negatively charged electrons from
losing energy and spiralling into the positive
nucleus.
Planck in 1901 proposed a theory to model the
spectrum of a black body and introduced the concept
of quantisation E = nhf where n = 1, 2, 3, 4
A spectroscope uses a prism or diffraction grating to
reveal the constituent colours present in the light.
There are two types of spectra:
emission spectra
absorption spectra
Spectra are a window into the hidden atomic structure.
Each element has its own unique spectral fingerprint.

Rydbergs generalised Balmer equation allows you to


calculate the wavelength of the photon emitted or
absorbed for any transition of an electron between
stationary states:
1
1
1
= R
n 2 n 2

f
i
where is the wavelength of the spectral line
R is Rydbergs constant 1.097 107 m1
nf is the final state
ni is the initial state.
Hydrogen has several spectral line series including the
Lyman, Balmer, Paschen, Brackett and Pfund series.
Bohr in 1913 described the revised planetary model of
a hydrogen atom based upon the quantisation of energy
and angular momentum of the electron.
Bohrs three postulates for his atomic model:
1 Electrons exist in stable orbits called stationary
states.
2 Electrons absorb or emit specific quanta of energy
when they transition between stationary states
(orbits), described by the PlanckEinstein relation
hf = Ei Ef.
3 Angular momentum of electrons is quantised.
The RutherfordBohr model, despite its successes, was
nevertheless a hybrid model and many experimental
observations still remained unresolved including:
the spectra of larger atoms
the relative intensity of spectral lines
the existence of hyperfine spectral lines
aspects of the Zeeman effect.

Review questions

quanta to
quarks

Physically speaking
The following table is all jumbled up. Copy the table into your workbook and correctly arrange the information. You may also
add additional features associated with each atomic model. For each atomic model, draw and label a pictorial representation.

Scientist and date

Features of the atomic model

Democritus

Planetary orbits of the


electrons
Three postulates

c 400

b ce

Aristotle
c 300

b ce

Dalton
1801

Thomson

Draw a pictorial representation of the model

A positive sphere with


electrons embedded in it

Planetary orbits of the


electrons
Small positively charged
nucleus

1904

Limit to how small you could


divide matter; the smallest is
called an atom

Rutherford

Electrons act like waves

1911

Bohr
1913

de Broglie
1924

There are four elements:


earth, air, fire and water

Elements only contain one


type of atom
Different elements
contain different atoms
Compounds contain more
than one type of atom

243

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

Reviewing

Solving Problems

1 Explain why flame tests of unknown samples are so

13 A photon has an energy of 6eV. Calculate:


a its energy in joules
b the frequency of the photon
c the wavelength of the photon.

useful to scientists.

2 Compare Max Plancks and Albert Einsteins ideas


relating to quanta.

3 Outline Rutherfords model of the atom.


4 Explain how emission line spectra are formed.
5 Identify the major events that led Niels Bohr to
propose his model of the atom.

6 Define Bohrs postulates associated with his 1913


model of the atom. Describe how these postulates led
to the development of a mathematical model to
account for the existence of the hydrogen spectrum.
Describe how Bohrs postulates led to the
development of a mathematical model to
account for the existence of the hydrogen
spectrum:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n f ni

Recall the relationship between energy levels in the


Bohr model of an atom and the observed Balmer
series spectra.

Discuss the limitations of the Bohr model of the


hydrogen atom.

When excited atoms were placed in a strong magnetic


field some previously observed single spectral lines
split. Explain why the RutherfordBohr model could
not completely explain the observed phenomena.

10 Marsden and Geiger in 1909 fired alpha particles at


thin platinum and gold foils.
a Recall what the then current model of the atom
proposed by JJ Thomson theoretically predicted.
b Recall the name of the scientist they were working
with during these experiments.
c Outline their experimental findings.
d Discuss the implications these experiments had
for the development of a new model of the atom.
Discuss the structure of the Rutherford model
of the atom, the existence of the nucleus and
electron orbits.

11 Recall why the RutherfordBohr model could not


explain spectra of atoms larger than hydrogen.

12 Compare the Zeeman effect and hyperfine spectral


lines.

244

14 Using the formula En =


E1 and given that the


n2
energy of the first stationary state (orbit) in the
hydrogen atom is 13.6eV, calculate:
a the energy of the fourth stationary state in the
hydrogen atom
b the energy difference between the fourth and first
stationary states
c the frequency of a photon emitted by an electron
transitioning from stationary state n = 4 to n = 1
d the wavelength of a photon for this transition
e the spectral series to which this photon belongs.

15 An electron makes a transition between the 3.40eV


and 13.6eV energy levels of a hydrogen atom.
a Calculate the wavelength of the emitted photon
without using Balmers equation.
b Predict if the spectral line associated with this
transition is visible to the human eye.
c Evaluate the principal quantum numbers (n) of
each energy level.
d Substitute your values of ni and nf into the
generalised Balmer equation and calculate the
wavelength of the emitted photon. (This should
be the same value as part a.)
e Identify the spectral series to which this photon
would belong.

16 Using the Bohr model, construct diagrams of the


following electron transitions and describe the role of
the photon in these transitions:
a an electron being excited from the ground state
(n=1) to the fourth excited state (n=5)
b an excited electron dropping from the n=6
energy level to the n=2 energy level
c an excited electron dropping from the n=4 to
n=3 and then back to the ground state (n=1)

17 Using the information in the following table, construct


an energy level diagram for n=1 to n=5 for the
hydrogen atom.

Principal quantum number (n)

Energy (eV)

1
2
3
4
5

13.6
3.4
1.51
0.85
0.54

quanta to
quarks
a Identify the electron transition between the energy
levels in your diagram that would absorb the
highest frequency photon.
b Identify which transition of an electron between
energy levels would emit the highest energy
photon.
c Demonstrate on your energy level diagram how
the Balmer series of spectral emission lines is
produced.
d Identify the transition between energy levels in
the Balmer series that would produce the longest
wavelength photon.
Solve problems and analyse information using:
1
1
1
= R 2 2

n f ni

18 Rydberg generalised Balmers equation for the


hydrogen atom:

1
1
1
= R 2 + 2

nf ni

19 A photon is emitted from a hydrogen atom with a


wavelength of 410.12nm. The electron associated
with the transition that produced the photon is now in
energy level nf=2.
a Using Balmers generalised equation, calculate
the value of ni.
b Construct a diagram showing the transition and
identify all relevant features.
c Identify the series associated with this transition.

20 The Lyman series for a hydrogen atom has the


following energy levels: E1=13.6eV, E2=3.40eV,
E3=1.51eV, E4=0.85eV, E5=0.54eV,
E6=0.38eV.
a Construct a diagram using the Bohr model to
represent the series.
b Construct an energy level diagram for the Lyman
series.
c Calculate the energy of the photon emitted in the
transition from n=5 in the Lyman series.
d Calculate the wavelength for this emission.

Re

iew

Q uesti o

a Recall what each term in the equation represents.


b Calculate the wavelength of the emitted photon for
a transition between n=6 and n=1.
c Predict the values for nf and ni for the transition
of the second-longest wavelength in the Balmer
series.
d Calculate the wavelength for the second-longest
wavelength in the Balmer series.

245

12

From Rutherford
to Bohr

PHYSICS FOCUS
Quanta to Quarks Timeline
H1. Evaluates how major advances in
scientific understanding and technology
have changed the direction or nature of
scientific thinking

H3. Assesses the impact of particular


advances in physics on the development
of technologies

Physics is not just about learning facts. Physics is a


human journey of exploration seeking to explain the
universe in which we live. Understanding the history
of events and people will allow you to stand upon the
shoulders of giants and continue this quest. Often the
stories told in modern textbooks skip over the years
of frustration and confusion that scientists faced and
present only the milestones and important discoveries.
When you study the history of scientific
advancement, it can become quite confusing if you
do not see the situation in the context of the period
of history.
For example, many of the experiments carried out
from the late 1800s to the modern particle
accelerators relied on vacuum pump technology. How
did this technology frustrate the pioneers who worked
with low-pressure gas experiments? Consider how the
ability for the scientist to produce a strong magnetic
field may have influenced the outcome of an
experiment. For example in 1862, Michael Faraday
placed a sodium flame between the poles of a magnet
to see if the bright sharp spectral lines were
influenced by the magnetic field; Faraday observed
no change. Some 30years later in 1896, Pieter
Zeeman repeated the experiment using both a more
advanced spectroscope and a stronger magnetic field,
and found that the spectral lines were indeed
influenced. Zeeman also observed that some
previously single lines had each split into three.

246

Figure 12.8.2

JJ Thomson in his Cavendish laboratory

Maybe you are now thinking that the interplay


between technology, people, events and ideas might
be quite interesting.
Construct a timeline that includes people,
experiments, advances in technology, models and
theories for the period from 1885 and Balmers
observations of the hydrogen spectrum through to
1913 when Niels Bohr proposed his atomic model.
You can include pictures of people, models and
experiments. Investigate and explore the relationships
between events. You might construct your own or, as
a class, build a huge timeline and display it in
your laboratory.
Some technologies you might research:
Advances in vacuum pump technology
Advances in spectroscope technology
Sources of electricity

Extension
Some additional technologies you might research:
Methods of detecting the non-visible
electromagnetic spectrum, including infra-red,
ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays
Types of magnets available
Electric and electronic circuitry
As you progress further through this module
extend and include more details on your timeline.

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics
A new paradigm
Niels Bohrs hybrid atomic model, which combined classical and
quantum concepts, held centre stage from 1913 through to the early
1920s. From a historical perspective we must remember that World
War I, 19141918, disrupted research laboratories throughout
Europe. The 1920s saw the move away from classical ideas and
culminated at the 1927 Solvay Conference in Copenhagen where
modern day quantum mechanics was born. In the years leading up
to this conference Louis de Broglie proposed that all matter has wave
properties, Erwin Schrodinger developed a mathematical model for
describing wave mechanics, Heisenberg revealed the statistical
nature of quantum theory and formulated his most famous
discoverythe Heisenberg uncertainty principle
and Pauli developed his exclusion principle.

13.1 The birth


Newtonian classical physics was under attack throughout the 1920s and the
outcome, which was based upon theoretical and experimental evidence, gave
birth to quantum mechanics. The major debates came to a head at the 1927
Solvay Conference in Copenhagen where the old deterministic view of matter
was cast aside in favour of a world that was ruled by probabilities. This outcome,
however, was certainly not unanimously accepted and most notably Bohr and
Einstein continued to debate the interpretations for more than 20 years.

Checkpoint 13.1
Outline how quantum mechanics was started.

quantum mechanics, de Broglie,


Schrodinger, wave mechanics,
diffraction, quantum numbers,
wave function, Heisenberg, uncertainty
principle, Pauli, exclusion principle

A Great Loss

arry (Henry) Moseley was one of


the brilliant young scientists who
worked with Rutherford. In about
1910, using X-ray diffraction of
crystals, he discovered a systematic
relationship between wavelength of
characteristic X-rays and atomic
number, which is now known as
Moseleys law. When World War I
broke out, he enlisted and joined the
British Royal Engineers. He was killed
in action by a sniper shot in 1915 at
Gallipoli. The loss of Moseley and
other scientists during this war
prompted British and other world
governments to implement policy to
not allow scientists to enlist for
combat postings.

247

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

Figure 13.1.1

Participants at the 1927 Solvay conference


Back row: A Piccard, E Henriot, P Ehrenfest, E Herzen, T De Donder, ESchrdinger, JE Verschaffelt,
W Pauli, W Heisenberg, RH Fowler, LBrillouin
Middle row: P Debye, M Knudsen, WL Bragg, HA Kramers, P Dirac, ACompton, L de Broglie, M Born, N Bohr
Front row: I Langmuir, M Planck, M Curie, HA Lorentz, A Einstein, P Langevin, CE Guye, CTR Wilson,
OW Richardson

13.2 Louis de Broglies proposal


By 1915, William Henry Bragg (18621942) had provided convincing evidence
that X-rays have particle properties; his son William Lawrence Bragg (1890
1971), an Australian, had developed an equation based upon the wave nature
of X-rays that enabled a detailed analysis of X-ray diffraction patterns.
In the early 1920s, Prince Louis de Broglie (pronounced de broy), with the
knowledge that X-rays and light possessed both wave and particle properties,
began to consider the waveparticle duality as a natural symmetry.

Matter waves
In 1923, Louis de Broglie began with a supposition that was based upon the
PlanckEinstein equation linking energy quanta to frequency. He equated
Einsteins special relativity energymass relationship E=mc2 with the Planck
Einstein equation E=hf:
mc2 = hf
He rearranged it to derive an expression for the momentum of a photon:
mc =

hf
c

Now mc is mass times velocity, hence the photons momentum is:


p =

hf
c

c
c
Using the relationship =
in the form f = and substituting,
f

he obtained:
h
p=

248

quanta to
quarks
He had derived an expression for the momentum of a photon in terms of its
wavelength.
In 1924, de Broglie proposed the concept of matter waves by applying
his belief in symmetry to propose that all particles of energy should also possess
an associated wavelength. At this time, particles of matter such as electrons,
atoms and alpha particles were known to possess the properties of mass and
charge, but there was no experimental evidence to indicate that these particles
exhibited wave phenomena.
De Broglies proposed matter waves could be calculated mathematically by
using what is now known as the de Broglie equation:
=

h
h
or =
p
mv

where is the wavelength, h is Plancks constant, m is the mass of the particle,


v is the velocity of the particle and p is the momentum of the particle.
(Remember p = mv.)
Louis de Broglie presented his hypothesis in his doctorial dissertation.
Unfortunately the combination of the involvement of de Broglie and other
French scientists in unfriendly debates with Niels Bohr and his supporters and
the experimentally unsupported proposition that particles such as electrons
possessed wave properties meant that the majority of scientific community did
not take de Broglies ideas seriously.

Figure 13.2.1

Louis de Broglie

Solve problems and analyse


information using:
h
=
mv

Worked example
Question
a Calculate the wavelength of an electron moving with a velocity of 6.0 105 ms1.
b Compare this calculated wavelength with the wavelength of visible light
(400650nm).

Solution

h
and substituting in the following values:
mv
h= 6.63 1034 Js

a Using de Broglies equation =



me = 9.11 1031 kg

v = 6.0 105 ms1

we obtain

6.63 1034 J s
9.11 10

31

kg 6.0 10 m s

= 1.21 109 m

Therefore the wavelength of the de Broglie matter wave is 1.21109 m.

b The visible spectrum ranges from violet light, with the shortest wavelength
(~400nm), to red with a wavelength of 650nm. For the purpose of this comparison
we will use the average wavelength of these extremes 525nm, which corresponds to
a yellow/green colour.

First we need to convert 525nm into metres (5.25 107 m). Now, comparing the
ratio of the wavelength of the electron (1.21 109 m) with the average wavelength
of visible light (5.25 107 m), we discover that the wavelength for an electron
travelling at 6.0 105 ms1 is approximately 430 times smaller than the
wavelength of visible light.
249

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

Always keep your eye on the physics

n important point to consider when you are calculating the de Broglie


wavelength for macroscopic objects such as cars and balls is that these are
not discrete fundamental particles. Rather they are a bulk collection of such.
Therefore, if you calculate the de Broglie wavelength for an object at near rest
(very close to zero velocity) you would obtain a large wavelength, which of course
is not what we observe. This is because you have not considered that the atoms
and molecules making up the object are actually vibrating at high velocities due
to their thermal energy. Also it is important to remember that, even at absolute
zero (273C), all atomic particles including atoms and electrons will still have
some motion and therefore cannot have zero velocity.

Describe the impact of de


Broglies proposal that any kind
of particle has both wave and
particle properties.

Initially Einstein was the only high-profile physicist to support de Broglies


hypothesis. Erwin Schrodinger, a loner, who was then based at the University of
Zurich, was intrigued and took up the idea proposed by de Broglie. He became the
architect of wave mechanics, a fundamental component of quantum mechanics.

Checkpoint 13.2
1
2
3

Outline the significance of the work of the Braggs in Louis de Broglie developing his theorical research.
Determine the wavelength of an electron moving at 3.0 105ms1.
Calculate the momentum of a proton that has a wavelength of 1.01109m.

13.3 Diffraction
Define diffraction and identify
that interference occurs
between waves that have been
diffracted.

250

A defining property of waves is their ability to flare or seemingly bend


around corners. Waves in water, sound waves and light can all exhibit this
property called diffraction. Lets first look at water waves. If you generate a set
of plane waves in a shallow trough of water using a ruler, you will see the waves
propagate down the length of the trough. Now, if you place an object such as an
edge, a block, a gap or a narrow opening in the path of the waves, you will
observe a strange behaviour. Instead of casting a shadow, each wavefront bends
around the object and enters the shadow region.
Lets now observe the behaviour of light as it passes an edge, through a
narrow slit and a small aperture (Figure 13.3.1). Again you can see that the light
does not cast a sharp shadow, instead it forms a series of bright and dark lines.
These patterns are known as diffraction patterns.

quanta to
quarks
a

Figure 13.3.1

Light passing (a) around a razor blade, (b) through a slit and (c) through a small aperture

You cant
escape them

ometimes when you are sitting back relaxing


or looking upwards into a clear blue sky, you
might occasionally see tiny fuzzy, out-of-focus
hairs or blobs. These are called floaters and
they are, literally, that. They are little bits of jelly
broken off the vitreous humour (the clear gel that
fills the space between the lens and the retina
of the eye) floating just in front of your retina.
The fuzziness is caused by the diffraction
of light around the edges of these floaters.

Try This!
Observing a diffraction pattern
Simply take two pens or pencils (you can even use
your fingers). Place them very close together, almost
touching, to form a narrow slit. Now hold them up in
front of one eye (about 34cm in front works well) now
close the other eye. Look through the slit at a bright light
source such a fluorescent light. Vary the width of the slit
and observe carefully! What do you see?

Checkpoint 13.3
1
2

Define diffraction.
Sketch a diffraction pattern that would result as light moves around a hair.

13.4 Confirming de Broglies


hypothesis
Clinton Davisson (18811958) and Lester Germer (18961971), using
electron scattering, reported the experimental discovery of electron waves in 1927.
Davisson and Germers discovery was preceded by an accident in the laboratory in
which an explosion shattered the evacuated glass vessel holding the nickel target.
The introduction of air oxidised the surface of the nickel target, which then had
to be degassed by heating it to a high temperature. This process allowed a number
of large nickel crystals to form. Experiments with this target produced a new set
of data in which sharply defined currents of electrons were present. Davisson and
Germer quickly realised that these new results were a result of the recrystallisation,
and they constructed new nickel targets of single crystals.

Describe the confirmation


of de Broglies proposal by
Davisson and Germer.

251

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

In the family

eorge P Thomson, the


co-discoverer of the wave
properties of electrons, was the
son of JJ Thomson the discoverer
of the electron.

Up until this time Davisson and Germer had been unaware of de Broglies
hypothesis, but during a meeting at Oxford in 1926 Davisson heard of
de Broglies proposed matter waves. He immediately realised that the new results
he and Germer had observed were similar to those of X-ray diffraction patterns.
With this insight, Davisson and Germer quickly identified that the scattered
electrons were indeed producing diffraction patterns.
At the same time, George Thomson (18921975) conducted a different
experiment in which he fired a beam of electrons through a thin gold foil and
observed diffraction rings. Therefore, in 1927, two different research teams using
different experimental techniques had verified Louis de Broglies hypothesis
concerning the wave nature of electrons.
a

b I

V = 54 V

electron
gun
50
0

power supply

15 30 45 60 75 90

electron
detector

electron beam (in vacuum)

incident waves
in phase

50

nickel crystal

Figure 13.4.1

scattered waves
in phase

GP Thomson

crystal
surface

Figure 13.4.2

Davisson and Germers apparatus and results. With the single crystal nickel
target, Davisson and Germer detected several peaks in scattered electrons.

Checkpoint 13.4
1
2

Outline how matter waves were first observed.


Discuss what other evidence has been observed to support Louis de Broglies hypothesis.

13.5 Electron orbits revisited


PRACTICAL
EXPERIENCES
Activity 13.1

Activity Manual, Page


112

252

Bohrs first postulate stated that an electron can exist in any of several circular
orbits with no emission of radiation. However, he provided no supporting
reasoning to explain why the orbiting electron would not radiate away its energy,
as predicted by Maxwells classical electromagnetic theory, and simply spiral into
the nucleus.
When de Broglie formulated his concept of matter waves, he envisioned that
electron orbits were standing waves. Each orbit (stationary state) was occupied
by an integral number of wavelengths that fitted around the circumference of
the orbit.
The circumference of a circular orbit is 2R and hence an integral number
of wavelengths:
n = 2R

quanta to
quarks
where n is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 , is the wavelength and R is the radius of the orbit.
To visualise these standing waves we first imagine a standing wave on a
slinky spring or rope, obeying the condition n where n can have the values n =
1, 2, 3 etc. When you shake a rope or a slinky spring you can produce standing
wave patterns that contain whole or integral numbers of wavelengths.
Now we can take these standing waves and wrap them end-to-end to form a
circular standing wave that corresponds to the circular Bohr orbit. These values
of n are called the principal quantum numbers and they tell you the number of
wavelengths fitting into the Bohr orbit.
Remember that the standing waves in Figure 13.5.1 represent the matter
wave nature of the electron. Often students imagine the electrons travelling in
wavy orbital paths around the nucleusthis is not the correct interpretation.

Explain the stability of the


electron orbits in the Bohr atom
using de Broglies hypothesis.

n=1

Try This!
Standing waves
Using a slinky spring or a rope, generate standing waves by having one
person hold one end firmly while the other person shakes their end.
Once you get a stationary wave you will notice that if you stop shaking,
the standing wave is quite stable and continues to vibrate. On a rope or
slinky you can generate standing waves other than those shown in
Figure 13.5.1. Why are these other standing wave patterns not suitable
for forming circular standing waves? (Hint: Consider interference.)

n=2

Figure 13.5.1

n=3

n=4

Comparison of standing waves


wrapped in a circle and on a rope. For
a standing wave to be produced in a
circle, a whole number of matter
waves must fit into the circumference.

Checkpoint 13.5
1
2

Outline how de Broglies matter waves help to explain the stable orbits of electrons.
Calculate the radius of the smallest orbit of an electron with wavelength 1.21 109m.

13.6 Further developments of atomic


theory 19241930
Quantum mechanics, the modern version of quantum theory, was developed
between 1925 and 1930. During this period, physicists moved from the hybrid
mixture of classical and quantum concepts to a fully mathematical model, to
describe the behaviour of matter. The strangeness of waveparticle duality and
the many associated paradoxes were sidelined as a new physics was born.

Erwin Schrodinger (18871961)


Schrodingers interests were wide and spanned most of modern physics including
statistical mechanics, X-ray diffraction, relativity and field theory. After World
War I, Schrodinger moved between several academic posts and in 1921 he settled
for 6 years at the University of Zurich. Here Schrodinger, encouraged byEinstein,
253

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

developed wave mechanics by synthesising the works of de Broglie, Planck,


Einstein, ideas from Hamilton and the fundamental differential equations from
optics. In 1926 Schrodinger published the equation known by
all physicists as Schrodingers equation:

h2 d2
+ V ( x ) = E
2m dx 2

When solved, the equation provides a wave function. The wave function
contains all the measurable information about a particle. If you square this
function you obtain a probability density, which allows you to predict the
likelihood of finding a particle. This very quickly successfully addressed a large
variety of atomic and molecular problems. The price paid for this new way of
looking at matter was that the classical and deterministic view of the atomic
world was totally replaced by a system in which you could only calculate the
probability of finding a particle in a certain place and time.

Werner Heisenberg (19011976)


Figure 13.6.1

Erwin Schrodinger

A famous cat
and inspiring a
new career path
to DNA

veryone has heard of


Schrodingers catthe one that
is both alive and deadwell that is
until you open the box and see. But
a little less known fact is that in
1944 Schrodinger published a little
book entitled What is Life?, which
looked at the new field of molecular
biology. Francis Crick the codiscoverer of the DNA double helix
said that this book influenced him
to change his career from physics to
molecular biology.

254

Heisenberg met Bohr in 1922, he was just 20 years old and working toward his
PhD. At the end of a lecture Heisenberg raised an objection to what Bohr had
been discussing. Bohr was so impressed that he invited Heisenberg on a walk and
they discussed the difficulties of quantum theory for more than 3 hours. Bohr
liked physical models of atoms, but Heisenberg thought it was nonsense to talk
about electron orbits when it was obvious that you could not observe the
electrons or their orbital paths.
Heisenberg went on to discover the first complete version of quantum
mechanics. The new theory that was developed in parallel with Schrodinger had
taken a completely different path. Heisenbergs theory had abandoned any
attempt to create a visualisation of the atom, ignored the ideas of waves and
particles, and in itself was purely mathematical.
Heisenberg took de Broglies proposal and Schrodingers wave equation and
was able to ascertain that there was a limit to how precisely you would measure
pairs of quantities. The pair he identified was that of position and momentum.
In 1927 Heisenberg announced his uncertainty principle, which
is expressed mathematically as:
h
h
x p
and E t
2
2
where x is the uncertainty in the position of a particle, p is the uncertainty in
the momentum of a particle and h is Plancks constant.
You can gain some insight into understanding the uncertainty principle by
considering the following example. If you want to know the position of a
particle, you will need to use a high-energy photon that has a small wavelength
as a high-resolution probe to locate your particle. Now consider that the photon
bounces nicely off the particle and you detect the photon and calculate the
position of your particle. You have located the particle very precisely, but the
particle is now recoiling and you will have very little information about its
momentum.
An even more bizarre implication of Heisenbergs uncertainty principle
(pointed out by Einstein) is that particles (i.e. energy) can appear out of the
nothingness of space for a very brief period of time, and then disappear.

quanta to
quarks
These particles are called virtual particles and we will discuss some aspects of them
in Chapter 15 The particle zoo.
In summary, Heisenbergs contributions to atomic theory include:
1 the development of his matrix mechanics, which, like Schrodingers wave
equation, allowed the nature of the atom and especially spectra to be explained
2 the uncertainty principle, which set limits on the precision of measurements.

Wolfgang Pauli (19001958)


Pauli and Heisenberg were great friends and studied as research students under
Arnold Sommerfield at the University of Munich. Paulis introduction to
quantum theory was as a student listening to Sommerfields lectures. Sommerfield
had extended the RutherfordBohr model to include elliptical orbitals, and the
BohrSommerfield theory attempted to describe the hydrogen molecule.
During the decade after 1913, physicists focused on the role of quantum
numbers. A major outstanding question was How many quantum numbers were
required to account for the observed chemical and physical behaviour of atoms?
Pauli responded by presenting an ad hoc solution to address this puzzle.
He found that by assigning four quantum numbers to each electron in an atom,
combined with a set of rules, he was able to produce a system that explained a
number of outstanding issues including the structure of the periodic table.
Several prominent scientists including Heisenberg, Bohr, Compton and Pauli
had considered that a fourth quantum number related to electron spin might be
required to describe the behaviour of electrons in an atom. The more experienced
physicists hesitated, but two Dutch graduate students George Uhlenbeck and
Samuel Gouldsmit published and described the fourth quantum number as spin
on the basis of the ideas presented in a paper Pauli had published on his
exclusion principle.
In summary, Pauli made several important contributions to atomic
theory:
1 He proposed that each electron in an atom would be described by four
quantum numbers.
2 He proposed, through his exclusion principle, that no two electrons in an
atom could have a set of four identical quantum numbers.
3 His exclusion principle and rules provided a system to explain the
arrangement and number of electrons in each atomic orbital, thus providing
an explanation for the structure of the period table.
4 He proposed that a neutrino was also emitted in beta decay, which provided
an explanation for the spectrum of beta-particle energies observed.

Checkpoint 13.6
1
2
3

State what Schrodingers equation allows you to find.


Outline Heisenbergs contributions to quantum mechanics.
Recall how Paulis work explained outstanding problems in the theories.

Figure 13.6.2

Werner Heisenberg

Figure 13.6.3

Wolfgang Pauli

Gather, process, analyse and


present information and use
available evidence to assess
the contributions made by
Heisenberg and Pauli to the
development of atomic theory.

255

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER 13
This is a starting point to get you thinking about the mandatory practical
experiences outlined in the syllabus. For detailed instructions and advice, use
in2 Physics @ HSC Activity Manual.

Activity 13.1: Atomic theory


Gather, process, analyse and
present information and use
available evidence to assess
the contributions made by
Heisenberg and Pauli to the
development of atomic theory.

Research and present a 5 minute speech assessing the contributions of Heisenberg


and Pauli to the development of atomic theory.
Discussion questions
1 Outline the contributions of Heisenberg and Pauli to atomic theory.
2 Assess how these contributions have affected our understanding of
the atom.

Chapter summary

256

Louis de Broglie proposed that all matter has wave


properties. These are called matter waves.
The wavelength of a de Broglie matter wave can be
determined by using de Broglies equation:
h
h
=
or =
p
mv
where is the wavelength
h is Plancks constant
m is the mass of the particle
v is the velocity of the particle
p is the momentum of the particle.
Diffraction is a property of waves and it is characterised
by the waves bending around corners or spreading out
after passing through a narrow slit.
Diffraction patterns can only be produced by waves.
In 1927 two different research teams using different
experimental techniques had verified Louis de Broglies
hypothesis concerning the wave nature of electrons:
Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer, using electron
scattering
George Thomson firing a beam of electrons through
a thin gold foil and observing diffraction rings.

Louis de Broglie explained the stability of the electron


orbits in the Bohr atom by stating that each orbit
(stationary state) was occupied by an integral number
of wavelengths that fitted around the circumference of
the orbit.
Heisenbergs contributions to atomic theory include:
1 the development of his matrix mechanics
2 the uncertainty principle, which set limits on the
precision of measurements.
Paulis contributions to atomic theory include:
1 proposing that each electron in an atom would be
described by four quantum numbers
2 proposing through his exclusion principle that no
two electrons in an atom could have a set of four
identical quantum numbers
3 his exclusion principle and rules provided an
explanation for the structure of the periodic table
4 proposing that a neutrino was also emitted in beta
decay, which provided an explanation for the
spectrum of beta-particle energies observed.

Review questions

quanta to
quarks

Physically speaking
Copy and complete the following text.
______________ atomic model published in ______________ was a mix of
______________ and ______________ concepts. In ______________ Louis de Broglie
proposed that particles had both ______________ and ______________ properties.
______________ developed the idea of ______________ waves, which, when applied
to the situation of an electron ______________ in Bohrs atomic model, provided

a mechanism to explain the stability of ______________. The concept of a


______________ wave in which the ______________ of the orbit was equal to the
h
de Broglie ______________, calculated using =
.

mv

1
E1 where E1=13.6eV
n2
to calculate the ______________ of the electron in a given orbit (n). You can then
rearrange the relation E=hf to calculated the frequency. Substituting the
frequency into = c/f you can calculate the ______________ associated with the
electron for the orbit.

For the hydrogen atom you can use the equation E n =

You calculate the wavelength for n=1 and the first orbit (n=1) has a
circumference equal to one ______________. You recalculate the wavelength for
n=2 and the second orbit (n=2) has a ______________ equal to ______________
wavelengths.
In 1927 ______________ and ______________ fired electrons at a ______________
target and observed ______________ phenomena that verified the ______________
______________ duality of electrons.

Reviewing




1
2
3
4
5

Define diffraction.
Describe how interference can be achieved.
Recall instances in which diffraction occurs.
Outline an experiment you could conduct to observe interference.
In terms of the Bohr atomic model, explain how matter waves were used to
account for the stability of electron stationary states.

6 Describe the experiment performed by Davisson and Germer in 1927 and


outline its significance.

7 Louis de Broglie proposed that any kind of particle has both wave and
particle properties. Recall the response given by the scientific community.

8 Recall and list the contributions made by Heisenberg to the development

Define diffraction and identify


that interference occurs
between waves that have been
diffracted.
Explain the stability of the
electron orbits in the Bohr
atom using de Broglies
hypothesis.
Describe the confirmation of
de Broglies proposal by
Davisson and Germer.

of atomic theory.

9 Recall and list the contributions made by Pauli to the development of


atomic theory.

10 If the speed of an electron is increased, predict what would happen to its


de Broglie wavelength.

11 In terms of de Broglies hypothesis, discuss the implications for locating an


electron in the ground state.

257

13

Birth of quantum
mechanics

Solving Problems
Solve problems and analyse
information using:
h
=
mv

12 Louis de Broglie equation is = h .

mv
a Recall what each term represents.
b Calculate the wavelength of an electron in a television tube with
a velocity of 3.0107 ms1.

13 Consider an electron of wavelength of 1.0 m.


a Calculate its velocity.
b Is this wavelength possible?

14 Using de Broglies equation, calculate the wavelength of:


a an electron travelling at 6.0105 ms1
b a proton travelling at 6.0105 ms1.

15 Calculate the velocity of a proton with a wavelength of 1.38 1012m.


16 a Calculate the wavelength of:

i a person (80kg) walking at 2 ms1


ii a soccer ball (0.43kg) kicked at a speed of 5 ms1
iii a car (1000 kg) travelling at 80kmh1.
b Assess the validity of your calculations against real-world observation.

17 Consider an electron at rest.


a Calculate the wavelength of the electron.
b Is this situation possible?

18 A car of mass 850kg is travelling very slowly at 7.01037 ms1.

Re

258

iew

Q uesti o

a Calculate the wavelength associated with the car.


b Will you see the wave properties of the car?

quanta to
quarks

PHYSICS FOCUS

The Microscope:
How small can we see?
H3. Assesses the impact
of particular advances in
physics on the development
of technologies
Describe the impact of de Broglies
proposal that any kind of particle has
both wave and particle properties.

Figure 13.7.1 (a) Light microscope, (b) electron microscope

The maximum magnification of microscopes in


most schools is usually about 400600 times.
More expensive research microscopes can achieve
magnifications of up 2000 times. You would think
that if you made better lenses and optics you could
increase your magnification to whatever you wanted.
Yet this is not the case and the reason for this limit
is related to the wavelength of the light that is
illuminating the object you are examining.
You can think of the wavelength of the light as
your probe, and any details smaller than your probe
would be difficult to see (or resolve). A useful analogy
is to consider that you are blindfolded and asked to
examine an unknown object using only the palms of
your hands instead of your fingers. Your fingers are
smaller and therefore able to detect finer details.
The same is true for the wavelength you use to look
at an object through a microscope.
Now consider using something that has a shorter
wavelength than light to illuminate the object. You
might consider using X-rays or gamma rays, which
certainly have shorter wavelengths. Unfortunately you
cannot easily build an optical system that focuses
these forms of radiation, and if you could the radiation
tends to have such high energies that it would just
pass straight through the object. Of course various
types of X-ray machines use these attributes to image
bones and airport luggage.
Now consider using a beam of electrons. They have
an associated de Broglie wavelength that can be many
times smaller than the wavelength of visible light.

You can easily focus and manipulate the beam using


electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses. You can also
easily see the electrons using detectors ranging from
a simple fluorescent zinc sulfide screen to specialised
complex semiconductor arrays.
1 Discuss how the wavelength of the radiation that
illuminates the object affects the detail you can
see with a microscope.
2 Determine the size of the smallest feature you
could visualise using a light microscope.
3 Research to find the maximum magnification
possible using an electron microscope.
4 Research and investigate the different types
of electron microscopes, including:
a transmission electron microscope
b scanning electron microscope
c scanning transmission electron microscope
d reflection electron microscope.

Extension
5 Outline the different ways in which specimens are
prepared if they are to be examined with an
electron microscope.
6 Discuss why the way in which most specimens
need to be prepared differs from they way they are
prepared when we use an optical light microscope.
7 Investigate the advantages and disadvantages of
using an electron microscope.

259

14
neutron, beta decay, atomic mass,
nucleons, strong nuclear force,
atomic number, nuclides,
transmutation, alpha decay, decay
series, atomic mass unit, fission,
nuclear reactor, controlled nuclear
reaction, atomic pile, critical mass,
uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction,
neutron scattering

20th century
alchemists
Base metals to gold
The idea of changing base metals into gold has been an age-old
quest of alchemists. Their attempts were not successful because
all the types of reactions the alchemists performed were merely
chemical reactions. To achieve their dream, they needed to
change the identity of the atom by changing the number of
protons in the nucleus. In this chapter we will trace the history
of nuclear physics, the modern alchemy, from the early 1930s
through to the construction of the first man-made
nuclear reactor.

14.1 Discovery of the neutron

Figure 14.1.1

260

James Chadwick

Rutherford proposed the idea of the neutron in 1920. At the time he considered
the neutron to be a system comprising a proton and an electron tightly bound
together. This system provided an explanation for the ejection of electrons from
the nucleus during beta decay. James Chadwick (18911974) set to work to
find the neutron.
Chadwick set up two main experiments in which he fired alpha particles at
a beryllium target. He allowed the unknown radiation generated in the first
experiment to pass through paraffin blocks and in the second experiment to pass
through nitrogen gas.
He then applied the conservation laws of momentum and energy, by setting
up simultaneous equations that involved the known masses and velocity
measurements of the alpha particle and ejected nuclei from both experiments.
Chadwick solved these equations in order to determine the likely mass of the
unknown radiation. A month after commencing these experiments, Chadwick
submitted for publication a paper entitled Possible existence of a neutron in
which he reported the neutron to be just slightly more massive than a proton.

quanta to
quarks

Many late nights

Table 14.1.1 The properties of nucleons

P Snow, a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory,


recalled that Chadwick worked night and day for 3 weeks
in his quest to identify the neutron.

Property

Proton

Neutron

Charge
Mass

+1.6 1019 C
1.673 1027 kg

Neutral
1.675 1027 kg

With the discovery of the neutron, the nucleus of the atom was considered to
consist of protons and neutrons; the number of protons equalling the number
of electrons in the neutral atom. The number of neutrons could vary to account
for the observed differences in the atomic mass of the atom. The proton and the
neutron are referred to as nucleons, when they are in a nucleus.
Be
foil

particles

Figure 14.1.2

Be
foil

paraffin

protons
(hydrogen
nuclei)

N2 gas

Discuss the importance of


conservation laws to Chadwicks
discovery of the neutron.
Define the components of the
nucleus (protons and neutrons)
as nucleons and contrast their
properties.

nitrogen
nuclei

particles

Chadwicks two main experiments

Checkpoint 14.1
1
2
3

Describe Rutherfords vision of the neutron.


Outline how Chadwick determined the mass of the unknown radiation from his experiment.
Describe the structure of the atom prior to and after the discovery of the neutron.

14.2 The need for the strong force


The new model of the nucleus posed a new
problem. What forces held the protons and
neutrons together to form a stable nucleus?
The new model of the nucleus posed a
new problem. What forces hold the protons
and neutrons together to form a stable
nucleus? Is it gravity? Assuming the size of
the nucleus is roughly ~1 1015m, the
gravitational force acting on a proton in the
nucleus of a helium-4 atom due to the other
proton and 2 neutrons is approximately
5.6 1034N (can you calculate it?)
The force of Coulomb (electrostatic)
repulsion between the two protons in the
nucleus is approximately 200N, which
is ~1035 times larger! (See Physics Phile
Repulsive protons.)

Evaluate the relative


contributions of electrostatic
and gravitational forces
between nucleons.

Repulsive Protons

he electrostatic force between charged particles follows Coulombs


law, an almost identical law to Newtons gravity, except that its
much stronger and it can be repulsive. Lets calculate the repulsive
force between two protons in a helium nucleus:
qq
Felectrostatic = k 1 22
d
(1.6 1019 C)(1.6 1019 C)
= 9.0 109
(1.0 1015 )2
230 N

where k is the electrostatic constant, q1 and q2 are the charges of the


protons and d is the distance between them.

261

14

20th century
alchemists

ractiv

Clearly, the force of gravity was too weak to overcome the huge electrostatic
repulsive force produced by the interaction between protonsa third
fundamental force of nature was required to explain the stability of the nucleus.
Experiments over the period from 1930 to 1950 showed that this new strong
nuclear force possessed the following properties.
1 The strong nuclear force does not depend on the charge, therefore all
nucleons (protons and neutrons) bind together with the same force. This is
supported by evidence that protons and neutrons are equally likely to be
ejected from a nucleus in a collision.
2 The strong nuclear force acts over short distances of about 1 1015m, the
diameter of a nucleus, and within this range the force is much stronger than
the electrostatic forces. The evidence supporting this is that otherwise the
nucleus would have a tendency to attract more protons and neutrons.
3 The strong nuclear force between the nucleons acts only between adjacent
nucleons. The evidence supporting this is based upon the observed stability
of the nucleus.

nte

M o d u le

repulsion

repulsion

Figure 14.2.1 shows the forces between two nucleons, and from the graph
you can see that the strong nuclear force is at a maximum at a distance of
approximately 1.3 1015 m. If the nucleons are less than 0.5 1015 m apart,
a repulsive force is present.
If we consider the resultant force acting on a proton or an alpha particle
approaching a nucleus, we see that the Coulomb repulsion increases and then
sharply decreases once the particle is within the range of the strong nuclear force
(see Figure 14.2.2).
Coulomb repulsion

Figure 14.2.1

Separation
of nucleons
1015 m

Nuclear force versus


separation between nucleons

Force

attraction

attraction

Force

range of the
nuclear force

Distance
from nucleus

nuclear attraction

Figure 14.2.2

Force acting on a positive charge


as it approaches the nucleus

Checkpoint 14.2
1
2

What is the difference in the magnitude of the electrostatic and gravitational forces between protons in the nucleus?
List the properties of the strong nuclear force.

Account for the need for the


strong nuclear force and
describe its properties.

262

14.3 Atoms and isotopes


The number of protons in a nucleus is referred to as the atomic number (Z).
The total number of protons and neutrons is called the atomic mass number (A).

quanta to
quarks
The number of neutrons (N) can be calculated by subtracting the atomic
number (Z) from the mass number (A).
N=AZ
The nuclear structure of an element is represented by ZA X where X is the
element symbol.
Atoms of each element have the same number of protons in their nuclei,
but the number of neutrons can vary, and these atoms are called isotopes.
There are 91 naturally occurring elements and we have identified more than
2500 different nuclei (or nuclides) associated w