High Energy High Resolution

Many people find it perplexing that to see the smallest detail, you need the largest energies, while the smallest energies will suffice for the largest detail. The reason is that detail can only be resolved when the the size of the detail is of the same order as the wavelength of whatever is being used to investigate that detail. Using the De Broglie relationwe have for a photon,

and for a matter particle

for smallThis equation ignores relativistic effects which we can safely do for v not close to the speed of light.

To investigate the nucleus we need a wavelength of the order ofor smaller.

The highest energy gamma rays have energies of order 500GeV which corresponds to a wavelength ofGamma rays of these energies can only be produced in cosmic processes.

The wavelengths required can be produced much more easily using charged particles such as electrons, protons orAnparticle has a mass of aroundSince they are charged they can be easily accelerated through a voltage to produce the energy or wavelength required. Then

This is about 30% of the speed of light and is perfectly attainable. These speeds are produced by cathode ray tubes as they accelerate electrons to produce pictures on a screen.

Add comment

Security code