Absorption of electromagnetic radiation
Baird, Christopher S. Department of Chemistry and Physics, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas.
Last reviewed:September 2019
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- Absorption of electromagnetic radiation, published January 2014:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- The visible appearance of objects
- Quantum effects
- Types of absorption
- Absorption by free charged particles
- Absorption by bound charged particles that become free
- Absorption by bound charged particles that remain bound
- Particle–antiparticle creation
- Beam attenuation and the Beer-Lambert law
- Additional Readings
The reception of electromagnetic radiation by particles with electric charge, resulting in transference of the radiation's energy and momentum. Electromagnetic radiation is also referred to as electromagnetic waves, photons, and light. Photons are the elementary particles that carry electromagnetic charge, manifesting as light across a spectrum of energies, or wavelengths. Light can be absorbed by any particle that carries electric charge, such as an electron. The light that is absorbed is destroyed, in the sense that its energy and momentum are transferred to the charged particle, with individual photons of light ceasing to exist. The absorbed energy can increase the charged particle’s kinetic energy, potential energy, or both, leading to effects such as heating (Fig. 1) and atomic transitions. The absorbed momentum can change the particle’s motion, leading to effects such as ionization and radiation pressure. See also: Electric charge; Electromagnetic radiation; Electromagnetism; Electron; Elementary particle; Energy; Heat; Ionization; Light; Momentum; Motion; Photon
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