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Q & A: radio photons

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Most recent answer: 12/19/2018
Q:
How do radio photons have such large wavelengths and still be called particles? Is the large radio wave the photon itself? Microwave photons also can not go through the microwave door mesh because of their large size, but light photons can't. As per Photoelectric Effect wave theory fails.According to an article on here, Magnetic fields are made of (virtual) photons. Electromagnetic waves also have vectors for Electric and Magnetic fields. Are there (virtual) photons traveling along the electric and magnetic vectors behind the photon propagating the EM wave? Thanks and kindest regards.
- Stephen (age 45)
Detroit MI
A:

Whether something gets called a particle or not really isn't a matter of whether its wavelength is bigger or smaller. It's more a matter of whether a sensitive detector would detect individual blips or just a continuous input. For visible light, easily available lab detectors (phototubes and some diodes) can detect individual blips. For radio waves, the energy per blip is much smaller. Still, sensitive superconducting detectors pick up blips from individual microwave photons. I don't think anything yet is sensitive enough to work for lower-frequency radiowaves. Still, the fundamental theory for all electromagnetic waves is exactly the same, so a photon picture also works for radiowaves even though its experimental implications are subtle.

Mike W.


(published on 12/19/2018)

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