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Dinsmore, 2003

‘Discovery’ of the electron

(J. J. Thomson, 1897)
•Glow appears at the end of a vacuum tube containing cathode and
(“cathode rays”)
(apparatus similar to TV)
•Glow can be deflected by electric or magnetic field.
•Corresponds to negatively charged particles, with charge/mass
ratio (e/m) = 1.76 × 1011 C/kg

anode (positive)


(slits are large – no diffraction)

Millikan’s oil-drop experiment:
The charge of an electron

Serway and Beichner, Fig 25.25

•Oil droplets are charged by electrons.

•Q is measured using electric field to balance gravity.
•Mass of droplet is measured from terminal velocity of droplet.
•Found Q = Ne, where e = 1.602 × 10-19C
and thus, m = 9.11 × 10-31 kg
X-ray and electron scattering from a crystal:
electrons behave like waves!



(Krane, Modern Physics (Fig 4.3)

Transmission electron microscope (TEM)
“lens” = magnetic field

electron source
(hot filament)


•Accelerating voltage ~ 105Volts

(v/c is close to 1!)
•λ ~ 0.04 Å
•TEM resolution ~ 1 Å (limited by
•Optical microscope ~ 2000 Å

(Giancoli, Physics; Fig 27-16)

DIffraction and Interference of electrons by two parallel slits.
Electrons hit one at a time, leave a bright spot:

N = 28

N = 103

N = 104


Serway and Beichner, Fig 41.2

Intensity, I is proportional to the probability of finding an electron.

If we assume I ~ |wave function|2, then...
the wave function is a ‘probability amplitude’