photoelectric

adjective

pho·​to·​elec·​tric ˌfō-tō-i-ˈlek-trik How to pronounce photoelectric (audio)
: involving, relating to, or utilizing any of various electrical effects due to the interaction of radiation (such as light) with matter
photoelectrically adverb

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What Is the photoelectric Effect?

The photoelectric effect *occurs when light (or similar radiation such as X-rays) falls on a material such as a metal plate and causes it to emit electrons. The discovery of the photoelectric effect led to important new theories about matter (and to a Nobel Prize for Albert Einstein). *Photoelectric cells, *or *photocells, are used in burglar-alarm light detectors and garage-door openers (both employ a beam of light that is broken when something moves across it), and also to play soundtracks on movie film (where a light beam shines through the soundtrack encoded on the film and is "read" by the photocells).

Examples of photoelectric in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This multi-tasking monitor is able to detect both smoke and carbon monoxide at the same time, with a photoelectric sensor for the former and an electrochemical sensor for the latter. Quincy Bulin, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Aug. 2023 Most experts say that the best smoke detector for your kitchen is a photoelectric model. Nor'adila Hepburn, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 May 2023 Keep in mind that carbon monoxide alarms can also include smoke detectors, which have ionization sensors for detecting fast-burning fires or photoelectric sensors to detect smoldering fires. Kaz Weida, Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2023 An article published in the official newspaper of the Chinese military, the PLA Daily, in September 2020 described how airships and balloons could be loaded with radar and photoelectric surveillance equipment to detect targets for strikes. Evan Hill, Cate Cadell, Ellen Nakashima and Christian Shepherd, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Apr. 2023 When purchasing a new one, choose a photoelectric alarm with a sealed, long-life battery and a hush feature. Claire Law, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Apr. 2023 In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, there are combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 23 Mar. 2023 The operator then had to feed the tape through a small gate in front of the machine's photoelectric reader, adjusting the tape's tautness using a series of pulleys. IEEE Spectrum, 31 Dec. 2019 One is whether to get a dual-sensing detector, with both a photoelectric eye to quickly detect smoke and an ionization sensor, often called a heat detector, to quickly detect flames. Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'photoelectric.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

circa 1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of photoelectric was circa 1879

Dictionary Entries Near photoelectric

Cite this Entry

“Photoelectric.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/photoelectric. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

photoelectric

adjective
pho·​to·​elec·​tric ˌfōt-ō-i-ˈlek-trik How to pronounce photoelectric (audio)
: involving, relating to, or using any of various electrical effects due to the action of radiation (as light) on matter

Medical Definition

photoelectric

adjective
pho·​to·​elec·​tric ˌfōt-ō-i-ˈlek-trik How to pronounce photoelectric (audio)
: involving, relating to, or utilizing any of various electrical effects due to the interaction of radiation (as light) with matter
photoelectrically adverb

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