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Light–matter interaction |
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Low-energy phenomena: |

Photoelectric effect |

Mid-energy phenomena: |

Thomson scattering |

Compton scattering |

High-energy phenomena: |

Pair production |

**Thomson scattering** is the elastic scattering of electromagnetic radiation by a free charged particle, as described by classical electromagnetism. It is the low-energy limit of Compton scattering: the particle's kinetic energy and photon frequency do not change as a result of the scattering.^{ [1] } This limit is valid as long as the photon energy is much smaller than the mass energy of the particle: , or equivalently, if the wavelength of the light is much greater than the Compton wavelength of the particle.

In the low-energy limit, the electric field of the incident wave (photon) accelerates the charged particle, causing it, in turn, to emit radiation at the same frequency as the incident wave, and thus the wave is scattered. Thomson scattering is an important phenomenon in plasma physics and was first explained by the physicist J. J. Thomson. As long as the motion of the particle is non-relativistic (i.e. its speed is much less than the speed of light), the main cause of the acceleration of the particle will be due to the electric field component of the incident wave. In a first approximation, the influence of the magnetic field can be neglected.^{[ citation needed ]} The particle will move in the direction of the oscillating electric field, resulting in electromagnetic dipole radiation. The moving particle radiates most strongly in a direction perpendicular to its acceleration and that radiation will be polarized along the direction of its motion. Therefore, depending on where an observer is located, the light scattered from a small volume element may appear to be more or less polarized.

The electric fields of the incoming and observed wave (i.e. the outgoing wave) can be divided up into those components lying in the plane of observation (formed by the incoming and observed waves) and those components perpendicular to that plane. Those components lying in the plane are referred to as "radial" and those perpendicular to the plane are "tangential". (It is difficult to make these terms seem natural, but it is standard terminology.)

The diagram on the right depicts the plane of observation. It shows the radial component of the incident electric field, which causes the charged particles at the scattering point to exhibit a radial component of acceleration (i.e., a component tangent to the plane of observation). It can be shown that the amplitude of the observed wave will be proportional to the cosine of χ, the angle between the incident and observed waves. The intensity, which is the square of the amplitude, will then be diminished by a factor of cos^{2}(χ). It can be seen that the tangential components (perpendicular to the plane of the diagram) will not be affected in this way.

The scattering is best described by an emission coefficient which is defined as ε where ε dt dV dΩ dλ is the energy scattered by a volume element in time dt into solid angle dΩ between wavelengths λ and λ+dλ. From the point of view of an observer, there are two emission coefficients, ε_{r} corresponding to radially polarized light and ε_{t} corresponding to tangentially polarized light. For unpolarized incident light, these are given by:

where is the density of charged particles at the scattering point, is incident flux (i.e. energy/time/area/wavelength) and is the Thomson cross section for the charged particle, defined below. The total energy radiated by a volume element in time dt between wavelengths λ and λ+dλ is found by integrating the sum of the emission coefficients over all directions (solid angle):

The Thomson differential cross section, related to the sum of the emissivity coefficients, is given by

expressed in SI units; q is the charge per particle, m the mass of particle, and a constant, the permittivity of free space. (To obtain an expression in cgs units, drop the factor of 4π*ε*_{0}.) Integrating over the solid angle, we obtain the Thomson cross section

in SI units.

The important feature is that the cross section is independent of photon frequency. The cross section is proportional by a simple numerical factor to the square of the classical radius of a point particle of mass m and charge q, namely

Alternatively, this can be expressed in terms of , the Compton wavelength, and the fine structure constant:

For an electron, the Thomson cross-section is numerically given by:

^{ [2] }

The cosmic microwave background is linearly polarized as a result of Thomson scattering, as measured by DASI and more recent experiments.

The solar K-corona is the result of the Thomson scattering of solar radiation from solar coronal electrons. The ESA and NASA SOHO mission and the NASA STEREO mission generate three-dimensional images of the electron density around the sun by measuring this K-corona from three separate satellites.

In tokamaks, corona of ICF targets and other experimental fusion devices, the electron temperatures and densities in the plasma can be measured with high accuracy by detecting the effect of Thomson scattering of a high-intensity laser beam.

Inverse-Compton scattering can be viewed as Thomson scattering in the rest frame of the relativistic particle.

X-ray crystallography is based on Thomson scattering.

The **Beer–Lambert law**, also known as **Beer's law**, the **Lambert–Beer law**, or the **Beer–Lambert–Bouguer law** relates the attenuation of light to the properties of the material through which the light is travelling. The law is commonly applied to chemical analysis measurements and used in understanding attenuation in physical optics, for photons, neutrons, or rarefied gases. In mathematical physics, this law arises as a solution of the BGK equation.

In physics, the **cross section** is a measure of probability that a specific process will take place in a collision of two particles. For example, the Rutherford cross-section is a measure of probability that an alpha-particle will be deflected by a given angle during a collision with an atomic nucleus. Cross section is typically denoted *σ* (sigma) and is expressed in terms of the transverse area that the incident particle must hit in order for the given process to occur.

**Rutherford scattering** is the elastic scattering of charged particles by the Coulomb interaction. It is a physical phenomenon explained by Ernest Rutherford in 1911 that led to the development of the planetary Rutherford model of the atom and eventually the Bohr model. Rutherford scattering was first referred to as **Coulomb scattering** because it relies only upon the static electric (Coulomb) potential, and the minimum distance between particles is set entirely by this potential. The classical Rutherford scattering process of alpha particles against gold nuclei is an example of "elastic scattering" because neither the alpha particles nor the gold nuclei are internally excited. The Rutherford formula further neglects the recoil kinetic energy of the massive target nucleus.

**Rayleigh scattering**, named after the nineteenth-century British physicist Lord Rayleigh, is the predominantly elastic scattering of light or other electromagnetic radiation by particles much smaller than the wavelength of the radiation. For light frequencies well below the resonance frequency of the scattering particle, the amount of scattering is inversely proportional to the fourth power of the wavelength.

The **Stefan–Boltzmann law** describes the power radiated from a black body in terms of its temperature. Specifically, the Stefan–Boltzmann law states that the total energy radiated per unit surface area of a black body across all wavelengths per unit time is directly proportional to the fourth power of the black body's thermodynamic temperature *T*:

In electromagnetism, the **absolute permittivity**, often simply called **permittivity** and denoted by the Greek letter *ε* (epsilon), is a measure of the electric polarizability of a dielectric. A material with high permittivity polarizes more in response to an applied electric field than a material with low permittivity, thereby storing more energy in the electric field. In electrostatics, the permittivity plays an important role in determining the capacitance of a capacitor.

**Synchrotron radiation** is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially, e.g., when they are subject to an acceleration perpendicular to their velocity. It is produced, for example, in synchrotrons using bending magnets, undulators and/or wigglers. If the particle is non-relativistic, then the emission is called cyclotron emission. If, on the other hand, the particles are relativistic, sometimes referred to as ultrarelativistic, the emission is called synchrotron emission. Synchrotron radiation may be achieved artificially in synchrotrons or storage rings, or naturally by fast electrons moving through magnetic fields. The radiation produced in this way has a characteristic polarization and the frequencies generated can range over the entire electromagnetic spectrum which is also called continuum radiation.

The **Mie solution** to Maxwell's equations describes the scattering of an electromagnetic plane wave by a homogeneous sphere. The solution takes the form of an infinite series of spherical multipole partial waves. It is named after Gustav Mie.

In quantum physics, the **scattering amplitude** is the probability amplitude of the outgoing spherical wave relative to the incoming plane wave in a stationary-state scattering process.

The **classical electron radius** is a combination of fundamental physical quantities that define a length scale for problems involving an electron interacting with electromagnetic radiation. It links the classical electrostatic self-interaction energy of a homogeneous charge distribution to the electron's relativistic mass–energy. According to modern understanding, the electron is a point particle with a point charge and no spatial extent. Attempts to model the electron as a non-point particle have been described as ill-conceived and counter-pedagogic. Nevertheless, it is useful to define a length that characterizes electron interactions in atomic-scale problems. The classical electron radius is given as

The **Compton wavelength** is a quantum mechanical property of a particle. It was introduced by Arthur Compton in his explanation of the scattering of photons by electrons. The Compton wavelength of a particle is equal to the wavelength of a photon whose energy is the same as the mass of that particle.

In radiometry, **radiant exitance** or **radiant emittance** is the radiant flux emitted by a surface per unit area, whereas **spectral exitance** or **spectral emittance** is the radiant exitance of a surface per unit frequency or wavelength, depending on whether the spectrum is taken as a function of frequency or of wavelength. This is the emitted component of radiosity. The SI unit of radiant exitance is the watt per square metre, while that of spectral exitance in frequency is the watt per square metre per hertz (W·m^{−2}·Hz^{−1}) and that of spectral exitance in wavelength is the watt per square metre per metre (W·m^{−3})—commonly the watt per square metre per nanometre. The CGS unit erg per square centimeter per second is often used in astronomy. Radiant exitance is often called "intensity" in branches of physics other than radiometry, but in radiometry this usage leads to confusion with radiant intensity.

**Antenna measurement** techniques refers to the testing of antennas to ensure that the antenna meets specifications or simply to characterize it. Typical parameters of antennas are gain, bandwidth, radiation pattern, beamwidth, polarization, and impedance.

The **Newman–Penrose** (**NP**) **formalism** is a set of notation developed by Ezra T. Newman and Roger Penrose for general relativity (GR). Their notation is an effort to treat general relativity in terms of spinor notation, which introduces complex forms of the usual variables used in GR. The NP formalism is itself a special case of the tetrad formalism, where the tensors of the theory are projected onto a complete vector basis at each point in spacetime. Usually this vector basis is chosen to reflect some symmetry of the spacetime, leading to simplified expressions for physical observables. In the case of the NP formalism, the vector basis chosen is a null tetrad: a set of four null vectors—two real, and a complex-conjugate pair. The two real members asymptotically point radially inward and radially outward, and the formalism is well adapted to treatment of the propagation of radiation in curved spacetime. The Weyl scalars, derived from the Weyl tensor, are often used. In particular, it can be shown that one of these scalars— in the appropriate frame—encodes the outgoing gravitational radiation of an asymptotically flat system.

**Dielectric loss** quantifies a dielectric material's inherent dissipation of electromagnetic energy. It can be parameterized in terms of either the **loss angle***δ* or the corresponding **loss tangent** tan *δ*. Both refer to the phasor in the complex plane whose real and imaginary parts are the resistive (lossy) component of an electromagnetic field and its reactive (lossless) counterpart.

The **scattering length** in quantum mechanics describes low-energy scattering. For potentials that decay faster than as , it is defined as the following low-energy limit:

In the Standard Model, using quantum field theory it is conventional to use the **helicity basis** to simplify calculations. In this basis, the spin is quantized along the axis in the direction of motion of the particle.

When an electromagnetic wave travels through a medium in which it gets attenuated, it undergoes exponential decay as described by the Beer–Lambert law. However, there are many possible ways to characterize the wave and how quickly it is attenuated. This article describes the mathematical relationships among:

**Surface plasmon polaritons** (**SPPs**) are electromagnetic waves that travel along a metal–dielectric or metal–air interface, practically in the infrared or visible-frequency. The term "surface plasmon polariton" explains that the wave involves both charge motion in the metal and electromagnetic waves in the air or dielectric ("polariton").

In physics and engineering, the radiative heat transfer from one surface to another is the equal to the difference of incoming and outgoing radiation from the first surface. In general, the heat transfer between surfaces is governed by temperature, surface emissivity properties and the geometry of the surfaces. The relation for heat transfer can be written as an integral equation with boundary conditions based upon surface conditions. Kernel functions can be useful in approximating and solving this integral equation.

- ↑ Chen, Szu-yuan; Maksimchuk, Anatoly; Umstadter, Donald (December 17, 1998). "Experimental observation of relativistic nonlinear Thomson scattering".
*Nature*.**396**(6712): 653–655. arXiv: physics/9810036 . Bibcode:1998Natur.396..653C. doi:10.1038/25303. - ↑ "National Institute of Standards and Technology" . Retrieved 3 February 2015.

- Billings, Donald E. (1966).
*A guide to the solar corona*. New York: Academic Press. LCCN 66026261.

Johnson W.R.; Nielsen J.; Cheng K.T. (2012). "Thomson scattering in the average-atom approximation". *Physical Review*. **86** (3): 036410. arXiv: 1207.0178 . Bibcode:2012PhRvE..86c6410J. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.86.036410. PMID 23031036.

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