wave-particle duality

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wave-particle duality

[′wāv ′pärd·ə·kəl dü′al·əd·ē]
(quantum mechanics)
The principle that both matter and electromagnetic radiation exhibit phenomena in which they behave as waves and other phenomena in which they behave as particles, the two aspects being associated by the de Broglie relations. Also known as duality principle; wave-corpuscle duality.

Wave-Particle Duality


a proposition central to quantum mechanics that the behavior of microobjects exhibits both corpuscular and wave characteristics.

In accordance with the concepts of classical (nonquantum) physics, the motion of particles and the propagation of waves differ in principle. However, experiments on the ejection of electrons from metal surfaces by light (photoelectric effect), the study of the scattering of rays by electrons (Compton effect), and a number of other experiments have convincingly demonstrated that light and X-rays, which, according to classical theory, have a wave nature, behave similarly to a flux of particles. A “particle” of light (photon) has an energy E and a momentum ρ, which are related to the frequency ν and the wavelength λ of light by the equations E = hv and ρ = h/λ, where h is Planck’s constant. On the other hand, it has been found that a beam of electrons impinging on a crystal gives a diffraction pattern that cannot be interpreted in any other way but on the basis of wave concepts. It was established later that this phenomenon is characteristic of microparticles in general.

Thus, a characteristic feature of the microworld is the duality of corpuscular and wave properties, which cannot be understood within the framework of classical physics. For example, the generation of a diffraction pattern during the scattering of particles is incompatible with the conception of the motion of these particles along trajectories. The wave-particle duality is given a natural interpretation in quantum mechanics.


wave-particle duality

The inherent contradiction in the way energy behaves. At the turn of the 20th century, it was believed that light was electromagnetic waves and electrons were particles. By the 1930s, it was determined that light behaves as if it were made up of particles (photons) as well as waves, and electrons also behave like waves. This has driven scientists to drink and is one of the most puzzling phenomena in the universe. See quantum mechanics.
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The Development of Attitudes to the Wave-Particle Duality of Light and Quantum Theory, 1900-1920.
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degree from the Sorbonne in 1924 for work in which he predicted the quantum mechanical wave-particle duality of matter.
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We have noted that this decomposition into a dilatation with rest-mass energy density and a massless transverse wave distortion, is somewhat reminiscent of wave-particle duality, with the transverse mode corresponding to the wave aspects and the longitudinal mode corresponding to the particle aspects.
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