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Stopping potential vs frequency graph

Let's explore how the graph of stopping potential vs frequency can be used to calculate the Planck's constant experimentally! From Einstein's photoelectric equation, this graph is a straight line with the slope being a universal constant. This slope has the value of h/e. In an effort to disprove Einstein, Robert Millikan conducted experiments with various metals only to conclusively prove him right. Millikan, Einstein, and Max Planck, all won a Nobel prize for their contribution to photoelectric effect and giving birth to the quantum nature of light! Created by Mahesh Shenoy.

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Video transcript

the man standing next to einstein is robert milliken he's pretty famous for his discovery of the charge of the electron but he also has a very nice story uh in photoelectric effect turns out when he looked at the einstein's photoelectric equation he found something so weird in it that he was convinced it had to be wrong he was so convinced that he dedicated the next 10 years of life coming up with experiments to prove that this equation had to be wrong and so in this video let's explore what is so weird in this equation that convinced robert millican that it had to be wrong and we'll also see eventually what ended up happening okay so to begin with this equation doesn't seem very weird to me in fact it makes a lot of sense now when an electron absorbs a photon it uses a part of its energy to escape from the metal the work function and the rest of the energy comes out as its kinetic energy so makes a lot of sense so what was so weird about it to see what's so weird let's simplify a little bit and try to find the connection between frequency of the light and the stopping potential we'll simplify it makes sense so if we simplify how do we calculate the energy of the photon in terms of frequency well it becomes h times f where f is the frequency of the incident light and that equals work function um how do we simplify work function well work function is the minimum energy needed so i could write that as h times the minimum frequency needed for photoelectric effect plus how what can we write kinetic energy as we can write that in terms of stopping voltage we've seen before in our previous videos that experimentally kinetic maximum kinetic energy with the electrons come out is basically the stopping voltage in electron volt so we can write this to be e times v stop and if you're not familiar about how you know why this is equal to this then it'll be a great idea to go back and watch our videos on this we'll discuss it in great detail but basically if electrons are coming out with more kinetic energy it will take more voltage to stop them so they have a very direct correlation all right again do i do you see anything weird in this equation i don't but let's isolate stopping voltage and try to write the equation rearrange this equation so to isolate stopping voltage what i'll do is divide the whole equation by e so i'll divide by e and now let's write what vs equals vs equals let's see v cancels out we get equals hf divided by e i'm just rearranging this hf divided by e minus minus h f naught divided by e does this equation seem weird well let's see in this entire equation stopping voltage and the frequency of the light are the only variables right this is the planck's constant which is a constant electric charge is a const charge and the electron is a constant threshold frequency is also a constant for a given material so for a given material we only have two variables and since there is a linear relationship between them both have the power one that means if i were to draw a graph of say stopping voltage versus frequency i will get a straight line now again that shouldn't be too weird because as frequency increases stopping potential will increase that makes sense right if you increase the frequency the energy of the photon increases and therefore the electrons will come out with more energy and therefore the stopping voltage required is more so this makes sense but let's concentrate on the slope of that straight line that's where all the weird stuff lies so to concentrate on the slope what we'll do is let's write this as a standard equation for a straight line in the form of y equals mx plus c so over here if the stopping voltage is plotted on the y axis this will become y and then the frequency will be plotted on the x axis so this will become x and whatever comes along with x is the slope and so h divided by e is going to be our slope minus this whole thing becomes a constant for a given material this number stays the same and now look at the slope the slope happens to be h divided by e which is a universal constant this means according to einstein's equation if you plot a graph of if you conduct photoelectric effect and plot a graph of stopping voltage versus frequency for any material in this universe einstein's equation says the slope of that graph has to be the same and millikan is saying why would that be true why should that be true and that's what he finds so weird in fact let us draw this graph it will make more sense so let's take a couple of minutes to draw this graph so on the y-axis we are plotting the stopping voltage and on the x-axis we are plotting the frequency of the light so here's the frequency of the light okay let's try to plot this graph so one of the best ways to plot is plot one point is especially a straight line is you put f equal to zero and see what happens put vs equal to zero and see what happens and then plot it so i put f equal to 0 this whole thing becomes 0 and i get vs equal to minus h f naught by e so that means when f is equal to 0 vs equals somewhere over here this will be minus h of naught by e and now let's put vs equal to 0 and see what happens when i put vs equal to 0 you can see these two will be equal to each other that means f will become equal to f naught so that means when when vs equal to 0 f will equal f naught i don't know where that f naught is maybe somewhere over here and so i know now the graph is going to be a straight line like this so i can draw that straight line so my graph is going to be a straight line that looks like this let me draw a little thinner line all right there we go and so what is this graph saying the graph is saying that as you increase the frequency of the light the stopping voltage increases which makes sense if you decrease the frequency the stopping voltage decreases and in fact if you go below the stopping voltage of course the graph is now saying that the sorry below the threshold frequency the graph is saying that the stopping voltage will become negative but it can't right below the threshold frequency this equation doesn't work you get shopping voltage to be zero so of course the way to read this graph is you'll get no photoelectric effect till here and then you will get photoelectric effects dropping voltage so this is like you can imagine this to be hypothetical but the focus over here is on the slope of this graph the slope of this graph is a universal constant h over e which means if i were to plot this graph for some other material which has say a higher threshold frequency a different threshold frequency somewhere over here then for that material the graph would have the same slope and if i were to plot it for some another let's take another material which has let's say little lower threshold frequency again the graph should have the same slope and this is what millikan thought how why should this be the case he thought that different materials should have different slopes why should they have the same slope and therefore he decided to actually experimentally you know actually conduct experiments on various photoelectric materials that he would get his hands on he devised techniques to make them make the surfaces as clean as possible to get rid of all the impurities and after 10 long years of research you know what he found he found that indeed all the materials that he tested they got the same slope so what ended up happening is he wanted to disprove einstein but he ended up experimenting proving that the slope was same and as a result he actually experimentally proved that einstein's equation was right he was disappointed of course but now beyond a doubt he had proved einstein was right and as a result his theory got strengthened and einstein won a nobel prize actually for the discovery you know for this for his contribution to photoelectric effect and this had another significance you see the way max planck came up with the value of his constant the planck's constant was he looked at certain experimental data he came up with a mathematical expression to fit that data and that expression which is called planck's law had this constant in it and he adjusted the value of this constant to actually fit that experimental data that's how we came up with this value but now we could conduct a completely different experiment and calculate the value of h experimentally you can calculate the slope here experimentally and then you can we know the value of e you can calculate the value of h and people did that and when they did they found that the value experimentally conducted over here calculated over here was in agreement with what max planck had originally given and as a result even his theory got supported and he too won their nobel prize and of course robert milliken also won the nobel prize for his contributions for this experimentally proving the photo electric effect all in all it's a great story for everyone but turns out that millikan was still not convinced even after experimentally proving it he still remained a skeptic just goes to show how revolutionary and how difficult it was to adopt this idea of quantum nature of light back then