What is the power of a single photon?

Power of a Single Photon

The power of a single photon can be understood in terms of its energy, which is directly related to its frequency. According to the Planck-Einstein relation, the energy (E) of a photon is given by the equation:

E = hν

where h is Planck's constant (6.62607015 × 10-34 m2 kg / s), and ν is the frequency of the photon.

The power of a photon, however, is a concept that typically applies to a stream or flux of photons rather than a single photon. Power is defined as energy per unit time. For a single photon, this concept is not directly applicable because a photon is a discrete packet of energy. Instead, when discussing the power associated with photons, we usually refer to the power of a beam of light, which consists of many photons.

The power (P) of a beam of light can be calculated by multiplying the energy of a single photon by the number of photons (N) passing through a given area per second. The equation is:

P = N × E

or, substituting the expression for the energy of a photon:

P = N × h × ν

This equation highlights that the power of a light beam is proportional to both the number of photons it contains per second and the frequency of those photons.

In summary, while the concept of power is not directly applied to a single photon, the energy of a photon is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics and is crucial for understanding the behavior of light at the quantum level.

Back to blog

Leave a comment