# Compton Effect

## Abstract

Information on the scattering of x-ray and *γ*-ray photons has profoundly influenced the development of our current concepts concerning the ultimate structure and behavior of matter. The essential duality of waves and particles emerged in an especially direct and clear way from A. H. Compton’s interpretation in 1923 of the shift in wavelength which he and others observed when x-rays are scattered by atomic electrons. X-rays, whose wave properties had accounted for their diffraction by gratings and crystals, were shown to possess also the corpuscular properties of energy and momentum, and to be capable of utilizing their entire energy and momentum in a single collision with one particular electron. This dualism of wave and corpuscular properties was extended to electrons and other conventional particles by de Broglie in 1924, and soon thereafter became a cornerstone in Schrödinger’s wave mechanics, in Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and in much of the new physics which was soon built by Bohr, Dirac, and many others. The validity of negative energy states of the electron was shown several years before the free positron was discovered, by the experimental confirmation of the Klein-Nishina cross sections which had been developed from Dirac’s relativistic electron theory.

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### General references

- [1]Compton, A. H., and S. K. Allison: “X-rays in Theory and Experiment”, 2nd edit., 828 pp. New York: Van Nostrand 1935. — The standard reference work covering all aspects of the production of x-rays and their interaction with matter, as known up to 1935.Google Scholar
- [2]Compton, A. H.: Quantum Theory of the Scattering of X-rays by Light Elements. Phys. Rev.
**21**, 483 (1923). — The basic “discovery paper” presenting what later came to be called the Compton effect.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar - [3]Davisson, C. M., and R. D. Evans: Gamma-ray Absorption Coefficients. Rev. Mod. Phys.
**24**, 79 (1952). — Comprehensive review of the theory of Compton-, photoelectric, and pair production interactions, and of experimental measurements of x-ray and*γ*-ray attenuation coefficients, through 1951. X-rays of low energy (below the*K*edge) are not included. Graphs and tables for*σ, τ, ϰb*, and*μ*_{0}per atom for 24 elements, from*hv*_{0}*=*0.1 Mev to 6 Mev or higher.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar - [4]Evans, R. D.: The Atomic Nucleus, 972 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill 1955. — Textbook and reference book on nuclear physics. Chap. 23, 24, 25 deal with interaction of photons with matter; theory, experiment, applications, and graphs.MATHGoogle Scholar
- [5]Heitler, W.: The Quantum Theory of Radiation, 3rd edit., 430 pp. Oxford: University Press 1954. — Standard treatise on theory of interaction of photons with matter. No detailed experimental treatment.MATHGoogle Scholar
- [6]Lea, D. E.: Actions of Radiations on Living Cells, 402 pp. New York: Cambridge University Press, and The Macmillan Co. 1947. — Contains detailed tables on interaction of x-rays and
*γ*-rays with low*Z*materials, especially adapted to problems of energy absorption in biological materials.Google Scholar - [7]Nelms, A. T.: Graphs of the Compton Energy-Angle Relationship and the Klein-Nishina Formula from 10 kev to 500 Mev. U.S. National Bureau of Standards Circular 542, available from U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1953, 89 pp. — Contains a succinct 7 page review of the Compton laws, the Klein-Nishina cross sections for unpolarized photons, and the incoherent scattering function, with 81 clear and accurate graphs dealing with the Compton conservation law relationships, and with the Klein-Nishina differential and integral cross sections per free electron.Google Scholar
- [8]White, G. R.: X ray Attenuation Coefficients from 10 kev to 100 Mev. U.S. National Bureau of Standards Report 1003, Washington, D.C. 1952, 93 pp. — Review of theory of Compton-, photoelectric, and pair production cross sections, and of coherent and incoherent scattering. Some experimental comparisons. Tables of theoretical atomic cross sections for coherent-plus-incoherent scattering, photoelectric effect, and pair production, for 19 elements and several mixtures. These tables have been reproduced, with corrected values for C, N
_{2}, and O_{2}at small*hv*_{0}, on pp. 857 – 874 of Beta- and Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy, Kai Siegbahn, ed. New York: Interscience Publ.; Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Co. 1955. Also republished with further revisions as U.S. National Bureau of Standards Circular 583, Washington D.C. 1957, 54 pp.Google Scholar