What Is the Reduced Planck's Constant?


Quick Answer

The reduced Planck's constant, or h-bar as it's commonly known, is a modified form of the equation that describes the quantization of angular momentum, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Angular momentum explains the rotary inertia of an object in motion, such as the Earth on its axis as well as its orbit around the Sun. Planck's constant describes the behavior of photons as discrete packets of energy, or quanta.

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Full Answer

Planck's constant is fundamental to quantum mechanics, which holds that light behaves as both particles and waves. Max Planck's discovery was considered radical for the 18th century and contradicted the classical view of the universe, which holds that events proceed predictably in a clockwork fashion. Planck's constant showed that the energy of light is proportional to its frequency in an equation expressed as "E=hv." In reduced Planck's constant, "h" is divided by 2?.

Einstein later used Planck's constant to lay the groundwork for quantum mechanics. Planck did not believe his constant had relevance to the real world and merely explained the absorption and emission of radiation, according to Boundless Chemistry. Einstein used Planck's constant to explain the photoelectric effect, which occurs when light shined on certain surfaces forces the material to eject electrons. This theory eventually became the basis of electronic applications such as solar energy and vacuum tubes.

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