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Verbatim question for GR8677 #45
Quantum Mechanics}Compton Effect

This problem can be solved via the Compton Effect equation , where is the angle of the scattered photon and is the so-called Compton Wavelength. In this case, since the particles are protons, one has . Since the photon scatters off at 90 degrees, the equation simplifies to . This is the increase in wavelength, as in choice (D).

To a certain degree, one can hand-wave this problem via the following method:
Recall the de Broglie relation,

, where \lambda is the wavelength, p is the momentum and h is Planck's constant.

The momentum of the proton is m_p c, thus \lambda=\frac{h}{m_p c}.

See below for user comments and alternate solutions! See below for user comments and alternate solutions!
Alternate Solutions
2016-09-20 01:19:12
I don\'t know the Compton equation off the top of my head, but I got this right easily simply because I remembered that the wavelength does change and the change is independent of the initial wavelength (I think that maybe that\'s important because it\'s predicted by the photon model, but not the classical wave model of light?). The wavelength shift is a result of a collision, so of course the mass in the equation is the mass of whatever the photon is colliding with. That narrows it down to only one answer.NEC
2013-10-16 06:29:20
2014-10-05 04:49:25
Why are you always trying to be such arrogant?
What makes you feel like you are the only person who remember the equation:
2016-06-30 15:46:27
Don\'t be obnoxious!\r\n\r\n\r\n
2013-09-23 20:52:26
How does a Photon have rest mass?

I was stumbled on C or D but D makes nonsense to me.
2013-10-16 19:10:10
It doesn't, pRotons do :). D is the only one that deals with values relevant to the problem (well it's plausible that the fine structure constant is involved, but not immediately obvious)
2008-10-03 12:45:53
This problem bugged me a lot, mostly because I've been doing X-ray scattering problems in Solid State for several weeks now and had forgotten that elastic scattering didn't always imply that |\vec{k}| = |\vec{k'}|...

< / whining >
2006-03-16 21:29:44
One should look at the important preposition "the wavelenght of scattered photons is INCREASED by"

This narrows the choices to (C) and (D), and one should choose (D) since it involves protons. The last argument merely goes as intuition.
2006-07-18 16:59:11
this does not necessarily rule out (A) and (B) since lambda/137 and lambda/1836 are both positive numbers and adding them to the wavelength would still increase the wavelength. there is nothing inherently wrong with saying that the wavelength is increased by lambda/137. e.g., if the wavelength is 1 then increasing it by lambda/137 would give a wavelength of 1+1/137 which is greater than the original wavelength. no problem with that.
Common Pitfalls
2005-12-02 11:13:45
One thing I hate about the physics GRE is that I don't have time to derive things like the Compton equation from scratch... so the alternative is memorizing it but I am not very good at that. So if I happen to forget the equation, what do I do? Just skip the question, or spend 5 or 6 minutes deriving the equation.

My physics program never put the emphasis on what you could memorize so this type of exam is very hard for me to study for...
2007-02-22 15:23:21
The Compton Equation is actually one of those things you should know... (some even consider it a fundamental equation of modern physics) But, you can always derive it using conservation of momentum/energy.
2008-09-01 00:32:20
Try this.

All you need to know is
From the conservation of momentum and energy, we have

m_pv ~ \frac{h}{\lambda}


P.S. You may find out these two arguments by drawing yourself a simple sketch of vectors.

Substitution (1) into (2)
we have


then, suppose \lambda'=\lambda+\kappa




\kappa = \frac{h}{m_pc}
which \kappa is the increasing of wave length

Does this solve your problem? This is how I do this question.

The key idea of this method is that when writing down the energy conservation you can see both \lambda and \lambda' is \underline{independent} in both sides of the equation. (How wonderful if you can subtract \lambda from \lambda'. That is the answer. The only difficulty is that they all at denomintors) Thus, you want to write \lambda' as something big + something small. Then you can cancell the big ones on both side and the small one-the answer-remain.
Answered Question!
2005-11-09 21:42:11
how can the momentum of the PROTON have momentum with the speed of light???
2005-11-09 22:21:48
sorry physicsDen. that was a poor attempt to derive the compton effect from scratch. the standard method for solving that (i.e., the usual compton effect equation) has been posted. thanks for pointing this out. on the same tangent, you might be interested in:
Fixed Typos!
2005-11-09 21:40:52
2005-11-09 21:40:42

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