# Can I perceive the photoelectric effect as "ionizing with EM force"

The photoelectric effect demonstrates that EM radiation has particle-wave duality and it can be used to generate electricity. I am still a novice in physics and my understanding of this phenomenon is that when the energy in photon is high enough, it can remove electrons from an atom, and with higher energy it can increase the kinetic energy of the emitted electrons or with higher intensity it can increase the number of emitted electrons.

So can I perceive the photoelectric effect as "ionizing with EM force"? Is there any connection between this effect and the ionization triggered by EM radiation like the gamma ray? What are the main differences between this effect and the ionization by EM radiation?

Can I perceive the photoelectric effect as "ionizing with EM force"?

Yes. In the normal scale view of an observer, it looks just like an ionization (in fact, it is). And since they're knocking out the electrons of atoms, you can visualize this effect as ionizing radiation. Well, wave-particle duality can be taken into account for explaining why energetic gamma rays and X-rays are grouped under Ionizing radiation category which consists of alpha, beta, etc. particles...

Is there any connection between this effect and the ionization triggered by EM radiation like the gamma ray?

Yes. There is quite a large connection. I think you've got yourself confused while writing the question. Photoelectric effect is the effect caused by EM radiation. Gamma rays, X-Rays (being an EM wave, or particles if you want) have photons of high-energy and hence, they knock-off electrons.

What are the main differences between this effect and the ionization by EM radiation?

Like I've already said, both are same. Ionization by EM radiation = Photoelectric effect.

• Thank you very much. So they are indeed the same thing by viewed in different ways!
– user21936
Mar 21, 2013 at 13:40
• Maybe not. It depends on what the OP means by "ionizing with the EM force". If he or she means "ionizing due to the Lorentz force on the electron", the answer is no. Recall that the photoelectric effect occurs even with the weakest possible radiation intensity. Oct 10, 2018 at 11:03