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Name: Mark
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: AZ
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2012


Question:
When a cell phone receives radio waves from a cell tower, are the received photons creating an electric current within the metal components of the cell phone antenna? In other words, are the photons being converted into electrons? If so, how is this occurring?

Replies:
The electrons are already there in the antenna and circuitry. The radio and microwave photons simply push them into motion, which is the electric current.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D., M.Ed. Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Wyoming


Mark, The photons do not become electrons. The photons give energy to the electrons, forcing them to move through the antenna. The radio waves have a specific frequency. The electrons move back and forth through the antenna with that same frequency. This motion of the electrons is the oscillating current that your cell phone amplifies and then translates into the sounds you hear.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf Physics Instructor Illinois Central College


The radio signal is not being converted into electrons -- but rather the energy from the radio signal is collected by the antenna, and converted to a voltage (a "nudge" of electrons is only way to think of it). And the antenna is designed to make that "nudge" detectable (that is the signal) by electronic equipment.

Hope this helps, Burr Zimmerman


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