Compton Effect

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First observed by Arthur Compton in 1923, the Compton effect occurs when an incident X-ray photon scatters with an electron. The X-ray loses energy depending on the angle of scattering; the total momentum and energy of the photon and electron are conserved.

Contributed by: Enrique Zeleny (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The energy shift in the Compton experiment is


where is the wavelength of the incident X-ray (in this example, ), is the wavelength of the scattered X-ray, is Planck's constant, is the rest mass of the electron, is the speed of light, and is the scattering angle.

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