Date: Spring 2012
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?
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
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
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,
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Update: June 2012