In 1923 Louis de Broglie proposed that a particle of mass m travelling with a velocity v would have a wavelength λ given by the equation:

where h is the Planck constant. The intensity of the wave represented the probability of the particle being and at that point.

The formula allows us to calculate the wavelength associated with a moving cricket ball.

1. Find the wavelength of an electron moving at 3x10

λ= h/p = [6.63x10

2. Find the wavelength of a cricket ball of mass 0.15 kg moving at 30 m s

λ = [6.7x 10

This is not really a very sensible answer or
indeed a very sensible problem because of course a cricket ball is composed of billions upon
billions of individual particles each having their own discrete wavelength.

However for
individual electrons the formula has a real meaning; and since an electron accelerated through
a potential difference of V volts will gain electrical energy (E = eV) and hence kinetic energy ½
mv^{2} we can calculate the wavelength of the electron.

Therefore, substituting
values for the charge and mass for the electron:

Calculate the wavelength of an electron accelerated through a potential difference of (a) 10 kV and (b) 100 V.

(a) λ = 1.23x10

(b) λ = 1.23x10

This is the true
beginning of wave-particle duality, since sometimes the particle would behave like a wave and
sometimes like a particle. Even more strangely, the way in which it behaved seemed to be
influenced by the nature of the experiment used.

We can also use the formula to
calculate the 'mass' of a quantum of light, or photon. For yellow light of wavelength 600 nm the
calculated mass is 3.7 x 10^{-36} kg. It is interesting to compare this with a mass of
9x10^{-31} kg for the electron. Using these ideas it is possible to calculate the recoil
velocity of an atom that emits a quantum of light.