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Glossary term: Photoelectric Effect

Description: When light or other electromagnetic radiation strikes a material, electrons are emitted: this is the photoelectric effect. It can be explained by considering light as particles or packets of energy called photons. For materials, mostly metals, the frequency of light should be greater than a threshold frequency (characteristic of the material) for the emission of these photoelectrons to occur. Their maximum energy is determined by the frequency; increasing the frequency of the light brings about an increase in the maximum kinetic energy of the electrons. On increasing the intensity of monochromatic light, more electrons are released, but there is no change in their maximum kinetic energy. This is because the intensity of the light is directly proportional to the number of photons.

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The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".