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Measuring the Effect of a Single Photon?

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Photons are created in scintillator devices in most modern particle detectors. These photons yield information about particle collisions that must be measured and decoded. This Website follows the track of a photon as it enters a photomultiplier tube (pmt), an amplifying device that increases the effect of a single photon to levels that are measurable. This signal amplification is crucial; without it, no information exists for decoding.

The site presents information regarding the innards of a pmt and allows students to investigate predictive mathematical models describing the signal increase under different, adjustable parameters.

Introduction to Research:

Photomultipler tubes are omnipresent in particle physics. Understanding the creation of their output signals helps to build understanding regarding the entire process of experimental particle physics.

Learner Outcomes: Students will know and be able to:

Research Questions:

How can we "see" a single photon?


Assessment is left to the classroom teacher. This website is envisioned as part of a larger unit on measurement or data modeling. Accordingly this unit of study would have an assessment plan that includes the stated outcomes of this website.