Fsc 2nd Year chapter No :1 | ELECTROSTATICSFsc 2nd Year chapter No :1 | ELECTROSTATICS
Topic No :10
A unit of energy equal to the energy acquired by an electron falling through a potential difference of one volt, approximately 1.602 × 10 -19 joules.
1 electron volt = 1.60217646 × 10-19 joules
by Jean Tate on February 17, 2010
Fermi mapped GeV-gamma-ray emission regions (magenta) in the W44 supernova remnant. The features clearly align with filaments detectable in other wavelengths. This composite merges X-ray data (blue) from the Germany/U.S./UK ROSAT mission, infrared (red) from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and radio (orange) from the Very Large Array near Socorro, N.M. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, NASA/ROSAT, NASA/JPL-Caltech, and NRAO/AUI
From the name, electron volt, you might guess that this has something to do with electricity. Well, you’d be right, it does … but did you know that the electron volt is actually a unit of energy, like the erg or joule? The symbol for the electron volt is eV – lower case e, upper case V. Like the meter, and parsec, the electron volt can have a prefix, so lots of electron volts can be written easily, so there’s a kilo-electron volt (keV, one thousand eV), mega-electron volt (MeV, one million eV), giga-electron volt (GeV, one thousand million eV), and so on.
About the energy the electron volt represents: if you accelerate an isolated electron through an electric potential difference of one volt, it will gain one electron volt of kinetic energy. Now a volt is a joule per coulomb, so an electron volt is one electric charge times one, or approx 1.6 x 10-19 joules (J).
Astronomers use electron volts to measure the energy of electromagnetic radiation, or photons, in the x-ray and gamma-ray wavebands of the electromagnetic spectrum, and also use electron volts to describe the difference in atomic or molecular energy states which give rise to ultraviolet, visual, or infrared lines, or limits. So, for example, the Lyman limit – which corresponds to the energy to just ionize an atom of hydrogen – is both 91.2 nm and 13.6 eV.
Now particle physicists use the electron volt, as a unit of energy too; however, confusingly, they also use it as a unit of mass! They do this by using the famous E = mc2 equation, so 1 eV – the unit of mass – is equal to 1 eV (the unit of energy) divided by c2 (c is the speed of light). So, for example, the mass of the proton is 0.938 GeV/c2, which makes the GeV/c2 a very convenient unit (= 1.783 x 10-27 kg). By convention, the c2 is usually dropped, and masses quoted in GeV.
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