photoelectric effect


Definition of photoelectric effect

: the emission of free electrons from a metal surface when light strikes it

Examples of photoelectric effect in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Albert Einstein proposed a theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905, describing the phenomenon in which electrons can be ejected from atoms after they are hit by light. NBC News, "Scientists clock the fastest interval of time in 'zeptoseconds'," 19 Oct. 2020 One of the most recognizable names appearing in the auction is that of Albert Einstein, who developed the theory of relativity and won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Tesla’s Patents, Einstein’s Letters and an Enigma Machine Are Up for Auction," 10 July 2020 Genius is an in-depth dramatic look at the life and career of the theoretical physicist who, among other things, explained the photoelectric effect that made the invention of television possible. Darryn King, HWD, "What Is Emoji Einstein, and Why Doesn’t Geoffrey Rush Want to Play Him?," 24 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'photoelectric effect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of photoelectric effect

1892, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about photoelectric effect

Time Traveler for photoelectric effect

Time Traveler

The first known use of photoelectric effect was in 1892

See more words from the same year

Statistics for photoelectric effect

Last Updated

31 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Photoelectric effect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on photoelectric effect Encyclopedia article about photoelectric effect

Comments on photoelectric effect

What made you want to look up photoelectric effect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!