By relating temperature to particle motion, the kinetic theory of gases gives an intuitive explanation of conductive heat transfer; faster particles collide with slower ones to transfer kinetic energy. But how does electromagnetic radiation make matter warmer? I would imagine a photon hitting a particle makes it faster, but how does it do that? Moreover, a photon hitting a particle is responsible for the photoelectric effect. Electron emission doesn't sound related to speeding up the whole particle's motion; are they competing phenomena?

  • $\begingroup$ In addition to the processes listed in the title there is acceleration of conduction band electrons or holes, excitation but not-ionization of atoms, excitation of molecular bonding electrons, scattering of molecules in a gas or liquid, excitation of rotational or vibrational modes of molecules in a gas or liquid, excitation of single atom modes in a solid lattice, excitation of mullti-atom modes in a solid lattice and so on and so forth. Which of these are allowed and which actually happen often enough to matter depends on the nature of the target and the energy of the photon. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Mar 19 at 0:21

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