What is a Photon?

A photon is the carrier of the electromagnetic force and is the quantum form of all electromagnetic radiation. This includes, light, radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, gamma rays and more. The most common to humans is visible light, which we detect with the retinas in our eyes. However, if our eyes were tuned to radio waves we’d be able to see FM and AM radio waves, responsible for audio, travel throughout the air. Light, radio waves and the aforementioned wave types are based upon the same electromagnetic wave, but each one occurs at different frequency ranges. The complete electromagnetic spectrum is found below.

Electromagnetic spectrum

Electromagnetic Spectrum

The photon is said to be in ‘quantum form’ because the electromagnetic wave is not a continuous wave. It is made of discrete parts, called photons. This became apparent in the late 1800s during an experiment called the photoelectric effect. In the Standard Model, the photon is considered to be a particle.


Photon Creation

In energy wave theory, a photon is caused by particle vibration. In the Particles section, particles were described as waves of energy, creating standing waves from in-waves and out-waves. The out-waves of these particles are longitudinal waves, but when a particle vibrates, it creates a secondary, transverse wave. A faster vibration causes a photon with a shorter wavelength and greater energy – the cause of the different types of waves seen in the electromagnetic spectrum.

An analogy to understand this interaction… imagine a balloon, under water in the middle of a pool, which is rapidly inflated and deflated repeatedly. The balloon will send spherical, longitudinal waves throughout the pool, losing energy proportional to the inverse square of the distance from the balloon. Now, imagine the balloon, while still being rapidly inflated and deflated, is also traveling up-and-down, from the bottom of the pool to the top and back again. This will create a secondary, transverse wave perpendicular to the motion – towards the sides of the pool.

Photon Creation - Electron Vibration

Photon Created from the Vibration of a Particle


In molecules and atoms, temperature is a measurement of the average kinetic energy (vibration) of the atom. At absolute zero temperature (0 K), there is no vibration and no photons are created. As an atom increases temperature, it is because the atom is vibrating faster. Transverse waves are created by atoms as thermal radiation reaching photon wavelengths into the infrared or visible light spectrum.

The focus and calculations of photons in this web site is based on the interaction with the electron, as it creates and absorbs photons and transfers longitudinal wave energy to transverse wave energy and vice versa. In the case of an electron in an atom, the vibration is short-lived. Thus, these photons are short-lived packets of transverse wave energy.

A photon does not have mass like a particle. Mass is defined in energy wave theory as stored energy from standing waves without consideration of wave speed. A photon is a traveling wave without any wave centers. Thus it is a packet of energy but it does not have mass.


Photon Absorption

A photon may be absorbed by a particle, such as the electron, transferring energy from transverse wave form to longitudinal wave form. The interaction occurs not with the particle’s standing waves, but instead it is the interaction with wave centers at the particle’s core. A detailed view of the photon as moving aether granules and an electron with wave centers at the core of the particle is illustrated below.Photon Absorption Electron

Photon to be Absorbed by a Particle


An electron’s wave center (shown as a red dot below) is constantly spinning, affected by longitudinal waves and positioning to be at a standing wave node. In the atom, it is now also affected by the spin of the proton in the nucleus. The electron’s spin was covered in the electron page.

A photon must match the right frequency to be absorbed by a particle because it is the interaction of the photon’s components (granules) with the core of the electron (wave centers) that are spinning. It must match the resonant frequency. Resonance is often described like an adult pushing a kid on a swing. Push at the wrong frequency and the adult misses the kid or it takes significant energy. Pushing at a frequency that matches the frequency of the swing results in the greatest amplitude (height) with the least amount of energy spent. This concept is applied to the detail of a photon interacting with an electron.Photon Resonance animated

Photon Absorbed – Granular View


When a photon is absorbed, it transfers transverse wave energy to longitudinal energy as a result of the electron’s spin. Increasing electron spin – even if temporary – causes an increase in longitudinal wave amplitude between the electron and the atomic nucleus. It is constructive wave interference to the repelling force that causes the electron to stay in orbit, as explained in the section on atomic orbitals. The increased amplitude forces the electron away from the nucleus as it moves to minimize amplitude (the fundamental rule of motion – Law #4 of the Theory Laws).

Photon Ejection

Photon Absorbed – Atom View


With sufficient energy, an electron will be ionized and leave the atom.  When energy is not sufficient to overcome the binding energy with the nucleus, the electron moves away to the point of minimal wave amplitude (orbital), as a result of the electron spinning at the frequencies, but will eventually return to its initial position. The details of various photon-electron interactions are detailed in the Photon Interactions page.

To summarize:

  • Photons are transverse waves created by the vibration of particles.
  • A faster vibration creates a photon with greater energy and a shorter wavelength.
  • Electrons in atoms vibrate briefly before returning to rest, creating a short-lived energy packet.
  • Photons do not contain wave centers and standing waves and therefore do not have mass.
  • Photons can be absorbed by particles, at the right frequencies, transferring transverse wave energy to longitudinal wave energy.


Where is the Proof?

Photon wavelengths and energies were calculated using the transverse equations. The equations for wavelength and energy were derived from the same energy wave equation as longitudinal energy for particles, which connects particles and photons and how they can transfer energy from one form to another (transverse to longitudinal and vice versa). The calculations include the following:

  • Calculations
    • Calculations of hydrogen photon wavelengths for ionization and orbital transitions
    • Calculations of 250+ photon energies for ionization of hydrogen to calcium (neutral and ionized elements).
    • Calculations of the conversion of particle energy to photon energy for annihilation, orbital transitions and ionization
  • Explanations
    • An explanation for the photoelectric effect and other photon creation and absorption processes matching experimental observations, including particle annihilation, pair production, Compton scattering and orbital transitions.