Double Slit Experiment and the Photon Model of Light? & Destructive Interference?

Watch
Retsek
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#1
I'm getting myself very confused over the double slit experiment in terms of photons, I found this explanation online but it still leaves me with questions:

"A common misconception with the double slit experiment is that the particles are interfering with each other. In fact, the experiment is meant to show that considering photons as pointlike particles is only an approximation that in some cases breaks down spectacularly.
Rather than think about individual particles, think about a plane wave incident on the two slits (think about the wave being made of water if it helps). The amplitude (squared) of this wave corresponds to probabilities of finding photons - any photons, not just one or another. You wouldn't be surprised to see a water wave self-interfere when passing through slits, and indeed the wavefunction here does the same.
So where do the photons - the particles themselves - come in? Well, we don't detect infinitesimal amounts of energy everywhere, but rather a finite number of discrete packets. Their appearance is governed by the probability distribution of that wave. Going back to the water analogy, imagine you had an array of detectors that would trigger if the amplitude of the water wave became large, but that the triggering was probabilistic with greater probability coming from larger amplitudes. Depending on the detectors' sensitivity and the energy in the wave, you can expect a certain average rate of detections, but you can't say for certain where the next detection will be; you can only give a probability distribution. Nothing qualitatively changes if the wave amplitude is decreased to the point where you only get one detection on average every minute. The detections are temporally separated and don't interfere with one another - it is the underlying wave, which we are sampling with the detections - that is showing an interference pattern."

If the wave models the probability of a photon being detected at a point, how can there be destructive interference? If it's a physical wave I understand that they cancel each other out. But if the wave is describing the probability, how can destructive interference occur? There can't be a negative probability?

Additionally in the wave model of light, if two rays of light have the same frequency and amplitude but a phase difference of \dfrac{\pi}{2}. They cancel each other out, destructive inteference yeah? But if E = hf But now there just isn't a wave at all, what happened to the energy?
0
reply
Arctic Kitten
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#2
Report 3 years ago
#2
The wave is not describing the probability, the probability describes the wave.

(Original post by Retsek)
Their appearance is governed by the probability distribution of that wave
(Original post by Retsek)
The amplitude (squared) of this wave corresponds to probabilities of finding photons - any photons, not just one or another
The probability is the amplitude squared so it cannot be negative.

Say there's a wave, the wave equation is W(x,t)=Acos(kx-wt). (W is amplitude, A is max amplitude). W^2 is the probability.

To have destructive interference, you need to have two waves. Think of a wave as "positive" and the other as "negative" they can add up to either positive, negative or zero.

(Original post by Retsek)
But if E = hf But now there just isn't a wave at all, what happened to the energy
It's gone.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

What support do you need with your UCAS application?

I need help researching unis (20)
14.6%
I need help researching courses (8)
5.84%
I need help with filling out the application form (7)
5.11%
I need help with my personal statement (54)
39.42%
I need help with understanding how to make my application stand out (35)
25.55%
I need help with something else (let us know in the thread!) (3)
2.19%
I'm feeling confident about my application and don't need any help at the moment (10)
7.3%

Watched Threads

View All