Compton Scattering

  • Kerry KuehnEmail author
Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)


In the first half of his 1928 publication entitled X-rays as a Branch of Optics, Compton describes numerous experiments which reveal that (i) x-rays obey the same laws of reflection and refraction as ordinary (visible) light rays, (ii) the angle by which x-rays bend when entering a body can be computed from the body’s electron density by using the optical dispersion theory of Drude and Lorentz, and (iii) x-rays fit nicely into the high-frequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum, since they have a wavelength on the order of a few angstroms. Now, in the second half of his X-rays as a Branch of Optics, Compton explains the surprising results of certain x-ray scattering experiments. To set the stage, Compton briefly reminds the reader of the main features of light scattering by turbid media. A turbid medium (such as milk) consists of a fluid in which tiny impurities are suspended; these impurities, in turn, are capable of scattering incident light.1 What makes Compton’s novel x-ray scattering experiments difficult—if not impossible—to reconcile with the classical theory of light scattering?


Wave Length Compton Scattering Diffuse Scattering Scattered Photon Turbid Medium 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeMilwaukeeUSA

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