Lecture 3: Wave-Particle Duality of Light

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  1. Light as a Wave, Characteristics of Waves
  2. Light as a Particle, The Photoelectric Effect

Lecture Video

The idea that light is both a wave and a particle is introduced. The properties of waves are described and the applications of diffraction are presented.

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Lecture Notes

Notes for Lecture 3 (PDF)

Clicker Questions

Lecture 3 Clicker Questions (PDF - 1.3MB)

Textbook Reading

The Characteristics of Electromagnetic Radiation Section 1.2 – focus on pp. 10–12 Section 1.2 – focus on pp. 10–12
Radiation, Quanta, and Photons Section 1.4 – focus on pp. 10–12 Section 1.4 – focus on pp. 10–12

Related Behind the Scenes at MIT Videos

Exploring the Molecular World with X-Ray Diffraction

Cathy Drennan explains how she and her lab apply the principles of constructive / destructive interference, and other characteristics of light (including energy, frequency, and intensity) in their research using X-ray crystallography to determine the three-dimensional shape of proteins. Cathy’s lab captures “snapshots” of proteins in action with a focus on proteins with medical or energy/environment-related applications.

Catherine L. Drennan’s Personal Story

Cathy Drennan explains how her dyslexia, and other people’s low expectations of her because of it, have not prevented her from excelling in science and becoming a full professor at MIT. In fact, her “disability” has given her a unique set of visualization skills that allow her to better understand protein shapes and how they fit together.

Problems and Solutions

Problems for Lecture 3 (PDF)

Solutions for Lecture 3 (PDF)


Excerpt of “ROY G. BIV” by They Might Be Giants, courtesy of Idlewild / Disney Sound, used with permission. From Here Comes Science, 2009.

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