As per question, are there ways to detect photons, and/or to measure their energy, that don't involve any interaction with electrons? And if yes, are there detectors which use photon interactions with other fundamental particles?

  • $\begingroup$ Well, one could perhaps induce photofission, but that just punts the question to observing the photofission fragments and whether you would use electrons for that. Seems to me to be a fairly contrived question. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Feb 22 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ The most common particles laying around a typical lab are electrons, protons, and neutrons. Neutrons are neutral. Electrons are relatively loosely bound to atoms. It is easy for a photon to knock one off and generate a current. Electrons are the basis of electronics and the natural way to build pretty much any instrument. Protons are heavier and tightly bound together. An energetic photon can break up a nucleus. But as Jon said, after that, the natural way to detect them is with electronics. $\endgroup$ – mmesser314 Feb 22 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ @mmesser314 - I swear I had a few Z bosons stashed in my lab drawer for emergencies, but I can't seem to find them now... $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Feb 22 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ MRI is sort of an example of this, but as Jon Custer indicates, this just punts the question to observing the deflected photons later ... $\endgroup$ – Paul Young Feb 22 at 15:37

Photons are waves of electromagnetic field which interact with charged particles. This means that it is possible to detect photons by observing their interactions with some others charged particles (for example protons, positrons). One possibility of doing this is detecting a change in the trajectory of this particle (looking for Compton scattering which occurs when a photon bounces off the particle). You can watch such a trajectory, for example, in a time projection chamber.

Compared to common techniques of detecting photons (like using a CCD chip), this is very complicated, and I really doubt something like this has been used for light detection. Also, no matter what technique you use, you will end up with an electrical signal which uses electrons.

  • $\begingroup$ I hope you don’t mind that I edited your answer removing a few spelling mistakes and streamlining the English. $\endgroup$ – flaudemus Feb 22 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ I would upvote your answer, but I don't have enough points yet. Anyway, The electrons in the cables and CPUs were not really part of what I was asking, I was more interested in direct photon interaction. So thank you. $\endgroup$ – Batrax Feb 24 at 15:52

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