How does photon incident on a reflective surface interact with the free electrons?

I don't understand how free electrons on top of metals interact with incident photons in such a way that they could re-emit(reflect) photons at the same angle with respect to the normal line.

2 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    It is very difficult to explain reflection in terms of photons, because we think of a photon as a localised object, rather than a wavefront. But it isn't - a photon is best thought of as a superposition of states until we perform an action which localises it (collapses the wave function in the correct terminology). That's what quantum mechanics tells us.

    For reflection, it is best to consider the energy as electromagnetic waves. The 'sea' of free electrons oscillate and re-radiate the waves according to Maxwell's equations and Huygens principle.

    (You may be familiar with the 2 slit interference problem 'how can 1 photon pass through 2 slits at the same time?' - this is a similar problem to reflection.)

    I don't know if that helps though!

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    Hi there,

    Should you need to download a recent version of Photon get it here:

    Good free solution

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