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Interaction in the Steady State between Electromagnetic Waves and Matter

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Document pages: 14 pages

Abstract: It is common experience that our eyes do not perceive significant changes in color when we observe for long time an object continuously exposed to light. We always see plants to be green in summer until in autumn factors external to our vision, such as changes in the length of daylight and temperature, cause the break-down of chlorophyll and, in turn, spectacular changes in plant’s colors. Likewise, the photocurrent produced in solar panels or field effect transistors achieves a steady state magnitude shortly after the start of the illumination. The steady state photocurrent lasts until the illumination stops. Understanding the origin of the steady state response of a device or light harvesting (LH) system to illumination with electromagnetic (EM) waves motivates the research presented in this work. In our experiments, we used capacitors as LH systems and illuminated them with infrared (IR) light over an 80 hours time period. We investigated the interaction between light and matter by monitoring versus time the voltage output of the capacitors. By combining modeling and experimental observations, we concluded that the steady state voltage is established soon after the start of the illumination as the consequence of the law of conservation of energy. We also found that the magnitude of the voltage in the steady state depends on the power and period of the illuminating IR light, and on the capacitance of the capacitor. When light’s power undergoes fluctuations, also the voltage produced by the capacitor and the surface charge density on the capacitors do so. These findings suggest that the law of conservation of energy has a significant repercussion when light is absorbed by matter in the steady state, for example in the mechanism of vision in vertebrates. Likewise, these findings are true when light is emitted from matter, for example in the mechanism of formation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).

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