wave-particle duality

Principle that subatomic particles possess some wavelike characteristics, and that electromagnetic waves, such as light, possess some particlelike characteristics.

In 1905, by demonstrating the photoelectric effect, Albert Einstein showed that light, which until then had been thought of as a form of electromagnetic wave (see electromagnetic radiation), must also be thought of as localized in packets of discrete energy (see photon). In 1924 Louis-Victor Broglie proposed that electrons have wave properties such as wavelength and frequency; their wavelike nature was experimentally established in 1927 by the demonstration of their diffraction. The theory of quantum electrodynamics combines the wave theory and the particle theory of electromagnetic radiation.

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      possession by physical entities (such as light and electrons) of both wavelike and particle-like characteristics. On the basis of experimental evidence, the German physicist Albert Einstein (Einstein, Albert) first showed (1905) that light, which had been considered a form of electromagnetic waves, must also be thought of as particle-like, or localized in packets of discrete energy. The French physicist Louis de Broglie (Broglie, Louis-Victor, 7e duc de) proposed (1924) that electrons (electron) and other discrete bits of matter, which until then had been conceived only as material particles, also have wave properties such as wavelength and frequency. Later (1927) the wave nature of electrons was experimentally established. An understanding of the complementary relation between the wave aspects and the particle aspects of the same phenomenon was announced in 1928 (see complementarity principle).

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Universalium. 2010.

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