# Compton scattering

In quantum mechanics, the **Compton scattering** or **Compton effect**, observed by Arthur Compton in 1923, is the increase in wavelength (decrease in energy) which occurs when X-ray (or gamma ray) photons with energies of around 0.5MeV to 3.5MeV interact with electrons in a material. Compton's experiment became the ultimate observation that convinced all physicists that light can behave as a stream of particles whose energy is proportional to the frequency.

Because the photons have such high energy, the interaction results in the electron being given enough energy to be completely ejected from its atom, and a photon containing the remaining energy being emitted in a different direction from the original, so that the overall momentum of the system is conserved. (If the photon still has enough energy, the process may be repeated.) Because of the overall reduction in energy of the photon, there is a corresponding increase in its wavelength. Thus overall there is a slight 'reddening' and scattering of the photons as they pass through the material. This scattering is known as *Compton Scattering*.

In a material where there are free electrons, this effect will occur at all photon energies and hence all wavelengths. In other materials, it is observed only with high-energy photons; photons of visible light, for example, do not have sufficient energy to eject the bound electrons.

The effect is important in scientific terms because it demonstrates that light cannot be explained purely as a wave phenomenon. Thomson scattering, the classical theory of charged particles scattered by an electromagnetic wave, cannot explain any shift in wavelength. Light must behave as if it consists of particles in order to explain the Compton scattering. It is also of prime importance to radiobiology, as it happens to be the most probable interaction of X rays with atomic nuclei in living beings and is applied in radiation therapy.

The Compton scattering has on occasion been proposed as an alternative explanation for the phenomenon of the Redshift by opponents of the Big Bang theory, although this is not generally accepted because the influence of the Compton scattering would be noticeable in the spectral lines of distant objects and this is not observed.

## The equations

Compton used a combination of three fundamental formulas representing the various aspects of classical and modern physics, combining them to describe the quantum behaviour of light.

- Newtonian Dynamics - preservation of linear momentum
- Special Theory of Relativity
- Trigonometry - Law of cosines

The final result gives us the **Compton scattering equation**:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \Delta\lambda = \frac{h}{m_e c}(1-\cos{\theta}) }**

Here *m _{e}* is the electron mass and

*h/m*is known as the "Compton wavelength".

_{e}c*θ* is the angle by which the photon's heading changes.

## Derivation

We use that:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle E_{\gamma} + E_{e} = E_{\gamma'} + E_{e'}\,}**

(Conservation of energy, where **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle E_{\gamma}}**
is the energy of a photon before the collision and **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle E_e}**
is the energy of an electron before collision. (Its rest mass). The variables with a prime are used for those after the collision.

And:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \vec p_{\gamma} + \vec{p_{e}} = \vec{p_{\gamma'}} + \vec{p_{e'}}\,}**

(Conservation of impulse, with the **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle p_e=0}**
because we assume that the electron is at rest.)

We then use **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle E = hf = pc}**
:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \vec{p_{e'}} = \vec{p_{\gamma}} - \vec{p_{\gamma'}}\,}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle {\vec{p_{e'}}}^2 = {(\vec{p_{\gamma}} - \vec{p_{\gamma'}})}^2}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle {\vec{p_{e'}}}^2 = \vec{p_{\gamma}}^2 - 2\cdot\vec{p_{\gamma}}\cdot\vec{p_{\gamma'}} + \vec{p_{\gamma'}}^2}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \vec{p_{e'}} \cdot \vec{p_{e'}} = \vec{p_{\gamma}} \cdot \vec{p_{\gamma}}- 2\cdot\vec{p_{\gamma}}\cdot\vec{p_{\gamma'}} + \vec{p_{\gamma'}} \cdot \vec{p_{\gamma'}}}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle {p_{e'}}^2 \cdot \cos(0) = p_{\gamma}^2 \cdot \cos(0) - 2 \cdot p_{\gamma} \cdot p_{\gamma'} \cdot \cos(\theta) + p_{\gamma'}^2\cdot \cos(0)}**

The **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \cos(\theta)}**
turns up because the impulses are actually vectors, and in 2D (just draw a collision, it's always 2D) the inner product (in this case, a dot product) of two vectors is the product of their norm times the cosine of the angle between them.

substituting **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle p_{\gamma}}**
with **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \frac{hf}{c}}**
and **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle p_{\gamma'}}**
with **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \frac{hf'}{c}}**
, we derive

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle p_{e'}^2 = \frac{h^2 f^2}{c^2} + \frac{h^2 f'^2}{c^2} - \frac{2h^2 ff'\cos{\theta}}{c^2}}**

Now we fill in for the energy part:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle E_{\gamma} + E_{e} = E_{\gamma'} + E_{e'}\,}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle hf + mc^2 = hf' + \sqrt{(p_{e'}c)^2 + (mc^2)^2}\,}**

We solve this for p_{e'}:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle (hf + mc^2-hf')^2 = (p_{e'}c)^2 + (mc^2)^2\,}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \frac{(hf + mc^2-hf')^2 -m^2c^4}{c^2}= p_{e'}^2\,}**

Then we have two equations for **Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle p_{e'}^2}**
, which we equate:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \frac{(hf + mc^2-hf')^2 -m^2c^4}{c^2} = \frac{h^2 f^2}{c^2} + \frac{h^2 f'^2}{c^2} - \frac{2h^2 ff'\cos{\theta}}{c^2}}**

Now it's just a question of rewriting:

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle h^2f^2+h^2f'^2-2h^2ff'+2h(f-f')mc^2 = h^2f^2+h^2f'^2-2h^2ff'\cos{\theta}\,}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle -2h^2ff'+2h(f-f')mc^2 = -2h^2ff'\cos{\theta}\,}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle hff'-(f-f')mc^2 = hff'\cos{\theta}\,}****Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle hff'(1-\cos{\theta}) = (f-f')mc^2\,}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle h\frac{c}{\lambda'}\frac{c}{\lambda}(1-\cos{\theta}) =\left(\frac{c}{\lambda}-\frac{c}{\lambda'}\right)mc^2}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle h\frac{c}{\lambda'}\frac{c}{\lambda}(1-\cos{\theta}) = \left(\frac{c\lambda'}{\lambda\lambda'}-\frac{c\lambda}{\lambda'\lambda}\right)mc^2}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle h(1-\cos{\theta}) = \frac{\lambda'}{c}\frac{\lambda}{c}\left(\frac{c\lambda'}{\lambda'\lambda}-\frac{c\lambda}{\lambda\lambda'}\right)mc^2}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle h(1-\cos{\theta}) = \left(\frac{\lambda'}{c}-\frac{\lambda}{c}\right)mc^2}**

**Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/":): {\displaystyle \frac{h}{mc}(1-\cos{\theta}) =\lambda'-\lambda}**

## See also

- Arthur Compton
- Gamma ray
- Timeline of cosmic microwave background astronomy
- List of astronomical topics
- List of physics topics
- Peter Debye
- Sunyaev Zeldovic Effect
- Walther Bothe

## External links

*Compton Effect*(PDF file) by Michael Brandl for Project PHYSNET.

de:Compton-Effekt es:Efecto Compton fr:Diffusion Compton gl:Efecto Compton it:Effetto Compton nl:Compton-effect ja:コンプトン効果 pl:Zjawisko Comptona pt:Efeito Compton ru:Эффект Комптона sl:Comptonov pojav