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Cherenkov Radiation

By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND


Mass travels at less than the speed of light though space, but Cherenkov Radiation on its surface appears to violate this rule.  We will see that this apparent violation actually conforms to the conventional rules governing kinetic energy and the processes by which mass transits through space.

When a charged particle is generated with a high kinetic energy from a nuclear decay, from a particle accelerator, or by particle decay, it may have a relativistic speed in vacuum space.  This means that its speed is very close to the vacuum speed of light, and that it begins to show relativistic effects such as mass accumulation, etc.  When these high-energy charged particles transit through optically transparent, refractive, dielectric materials, such as water, glass, diamond, etc, they interact with the atoms bonded to the crystal lattice or molecules.  As these relativistic charged particles interact with the atoms in the media, there are a number of modes by which the energy may eventually be released including Bremsstrahlung, transition radiation, thermal motion, ionization, and Cherenkov radiation.  In fact, the amount of energy lost to Cherenkov radiation is small, composing only about 1/5000th of the total energy lost.  The energy is lost very quickly, in about 10-10 sec.

Cherenkov radiation is the energy radiation mode we shall consider in this section.  The relativistic charged particle stresses (and deforms) the atomic bonds between atoms composing the lattice of a solid, or the intra-molecular atomic bonds.  The release of the compression or tension of these bonds produces photons covering a broad frequency range.  And, the photon energy loss per unit of wavelength is proportional to the cube of the frequency, thus higher frequencies are more common and the light appears to be a bluish white.

Since the particle is traveling faster than the rate that light propagates in the media, the photons travel outward in a cone-shaped distribution along the locus of the particle.  The angle of the cone is dependent upon the velocity of the particle, and can be used to assess the particle’s velocity.  The smallest angle of the cone of light travels in a cone-shaped distribution.  This cascade of photons is called Cherenkov Radiation.

This radiation is generated when near vacuum-speed-of-light charged particles pass through a dipolar media.  The polar field of the transiting charge causes a stress, and hence movement, in the molecular and atomic spacing of the dipolar media.  After the transiting charge leaves each increment of space, the energy of displacement and stress produced by the high velocity particle is released by the formation of photons.  The light frequencies emitted in this energy release are continuous across the UV through Infrared spectrum.  The intensity of each frequency photon is proportional to the cube of its frequency, meaning that higher frequency photons will strongly dominate the spectrum of emission.  Thus, Cherenkov radiation emissions will have their highest output in the ultraviolet region, with violet light having a lower intensity, Blue still lower, red still lower, and infrared even lower.  And, since the sensitivity of the eye peaks at the “green” frequencies of light, the human perceptual experience is a blue white light being radiated from the dielectric medium.

Photons traveling through the refractive medium travel at a slower speed than a near-light-speed particle because photons are absorbed and re-emitted at each moment as they transit through this atomic and molecular dipole space, resulting in a time-delay at each increment of distance transited by each photon.  This variation in local speed of light is quantified in Snell’s law, which gives each transparent material an index of refraction based on the ratio between the speed of light in a vacuum, and the speed of light through the material.  Diamond has a relatively high index of refraction, around 2.4, compared to air, which is close to the index1.0.

A relativistic charged particle traveling close to the vacuum speed of light, entering a water medium, such as is seen in a swimming pool reactor, will produce the characteristic ghostly blue-white light of Cherenkov radiation.  These high-energy particles are traveling faster than light can travel in that medium, so the photons generated radiate out from the particle’s track in a cone-like pattern.  These high-energy charged particles generate photons by electrically stressing the medium, and thus transmitting kinetic energy to the medium particles.  

The result is a bow-shock, in phase, photon distribution around the particle’s path.  This phenomenon is similar to the bow-shock created by a boat passing through water, where the speed of the boat is faster than the speed at which a ripple can proceed from the boat.  The effect is likewise similar to the supersonic aircraft, traveling through the air at a speed which exceeds the rate at which sound can carry its compression away from the plane.

Neutral particles such as neutrons do not create Cherenkov radiation.  Which means that their presence passing through a Dipolar medium (i.e. negative electron cloud and positive nucleus) does not disturb the relative placement between these two regions of charged particles.  Photons and charged particles, on the other hand, do produce a dipolar displacement.  The difference in neutral particle and charged particle response provides strong evidence that the speed of light through a refractive medium is not based on a Dipole Sea mediated  and .  

Rather, the effective  and  of the light-conducting medium is the result of the photon’s absorption and reemission by the atoms and molecules of the dipolar refractive medium.  Thus, the absorption and reemission of photons may on a deeper level be mediated by a compression and relaxation of the interatomic atomic bonds within molecules and within a solid crystalline lattice.  Such effects would require the displacement of atoms in relationship to each other, with the associated capacitive static charge-polarization effects, and inductive charge-movement effects.  

This collage of experimental evidence around neutral particle effects, charged particle effects, and photon effects provides strong proof that the inductive and capacitive effects associated with the absorption and release of that energy in the refractive medium generates the effective photonic rate of transit through these materials.
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/relativ/einvel.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherenkov_radiation

The relativistic charged mass transiting a transparent dipolar refractive medium loses energy and velocity through a number of collision-related mechanisms.  In effect, kinetic energy is transferred from the moving particle to the atoms of molecules or crystalline lattice by displacing the atoms, which in turn radiate energy as photons, or retain that energy as velocity.  The force interaction between the two entities (moving particle and stationary atom) is a repulsion or attraction, which gives the atoms a velocity, and hence deform the original bond-length of the undisturbed equilibrium.  

In the case of a high velocity electron moving through water, the presence of the electron’s charge and movement-based field allows the electron to exerts a forward-directed force against the electron clouds of the atoms of the water molecules.  The overwhelming force of the particle’s inertia allows the charged particle to move through the water, but only at the expense of multiple collisions, and a short track prior to depletion and absorption into the water molecules.  Thus, other than Bremsstrahlung radiation directly from the decelerating electron, the rest of the kinetic energy of the electron will be lost by the conversion of into the kinetic energy of the electrons, atoms and molecules of the water, which in turn will produce ionization, transition radiation, or Cherenkov radiation.  All these forms of energy loss are conversions of the kinetic energy field of the incoming particle into other forms of energy, either kinetic or photonic.

Depending on the material, the intensity of the Cherenkov radiation produced may be small or large compared to the energy lost by ionization, Bremsstrahlung, and orbital transition radiation.  Ionization occurs when sufficient kinetic energy is imparted to the electron to remove it from the atomic orbital system.  Bremsstrahlung is a German word meaning “braking radiation”, and is formed when energy is lost to the local space as the incoming high-energy particle slows upon approaching an atom or molecule in the target medium.  A portion of the kinetic energy field disconnects from the incoming high-energy particle, and forms into a photon now that it is no longer connected to a mass.  

And, orbital transition radiation is the radiation produced by the quantum drops in energy as excited electrons drop back to lower energy states.  When the electron drops into the lower energy orbital, it likewise leaves a quantum of kinetic energy field in the space, disconnected from a mass, and thus organizes into a photon.  

Cherenkov radiation is produced by the energy release as interatomic bond lengths drop back into equilibrium distance within a molecule or in a crystalline or amorphous lattice after being deformed by the incoming particle.  The incoming, high velocity, charged particle repels and attracts atoms bound in molecules and lattice structures thus causing an increase or decrease in bond length, corresponding to potential energy stored in the tension or compression of the bond.  The tension of the “spring” can be released as kinetic energy, which will then be met by bond forces resisting its continued motion.  If the amount of energy applied is small, the lattice or molecule may be able to retain this energy as thermal motion in the medium.  But, if the displacement/deformation potential energy is high, the sharp deceleration of the atoms as they collide with their bonded pairs results in the dissociation of the kinetic energy field from the moving atom, thus precipitating the generation of a photon.  


 Wavelength (m) Frequency (Hz) Energy (J)

Radio > 1 x 10-1 < 3 x 109 < 2 x 10-24

Microwave 1 x 10-3 - 1 x 10-1 3 x 109 - 3 x 1011 2 x 10-24 - 2 x 10-22

Infrared 7 x 10-7 - 1 x 10-3 3 x 1011 - 4 x 1014 2 x 10-22 - 3 x 10-19

Optical 4 x 10-7 - 7 x 10-7 4 x 1014 - 7.5 x 1014 3 x 10-19 - 5 x 10-19

UV 1 x 10-8 - 4 x 10-7 7.5 x 1014 - 3 x 1016 5 x 10-19 - 2 x 10-17

-X-ray 1 x 10-11 - 1 x 10-8 3 x 1016 - 3 x 1019 2 x 10-17 - 2 x 10-14

Gamma-ray < 1 x 10-11 > 3 x 1019 > 2 x 10-14

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/know_l1/spectrum_chart.html

In terms of electron volts, 1 joule = 6.24150974 × 1018 electron volts

Infrared = .001248 ev - 1.87 ev
Visible Light = 1.87 ev -3.12 ev
Ultraviolet = 3.12 ev – 124.8 ev
X Ray = 124.8 ev – 124,800 ev

The bond strength of the O-H Bond in water is 110 Kcals:
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/B/BondEnergy.html

Convert O-H Bond strength in Kcals to Electron Volts

1 Kilocalorie = 4184.00 joules
1 mole = 6.02214x1023 bonds
[110kcals/mole x 4184joules/kcal x 6.24 x 1018 ev/joule x 1/(6.02214x1023 bonds/mole)]
= .0477 ev

C-C bond: 80.5 kcals/mole
C=C bond: 145 kcals/mole
C≡C bond: 198 kcals/mole
C-H bond: 98.2
C-Cl bond: 78
C-O bond: 79
C=O bond: 173
C-Br bond: 54
O-O bond: 34
O-H bond: 109.4
H-H bond: 103.2
N-N bond: 37
N-H bond: 98.2
H-Cl bond: 102.1
H-Br bond: 86.7
Cl-Cl bond: 57.1
Br-Br bond: 46
Biophysical Ecology by David Murray Gates pg86
http://books.google.com/books?id=Lx1BclFf7QIC&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=bond+energy+electron+volt&source=web&ots=19YkOfRbki&sig=rSGGQGp9F65SdHempcKptwenq4M&hl=en#PPA91,M1

95.06 Kcals = 2.48 eV
120 Kcals = 237.5 nm photon

O-H bond of water being 109.4 kcals =109.4 kcals x 2.48 eV / (95.06 Kcals) = 2.85 eV which is in the visible light spectrum.  Thus, while 2.85 eV is the minimum energy for breaking the O-H bond, this is not the only energy that will be able to interact with the atoms of the watery molecular milieu.  Each atom and molecule can be accelerated by the collision with the incoming relativistic particle.  In turn, those particles will collide with other particles, causing them to decelerate and accelerate other atoms.  The result will be the breaking and remaking of bonds, and in general the creation of a high temperature outward spreading cone of activated atoms, electrons, molecules, and photons, each one colliding, decelerating and activating all modes of motion.  The important point being that this large number of activated atoms, each transmits their kinetic energy as they collide, and some will radiate a portion of it as they rapidly decelerate upon collision.  Thus, it is plausible that an incoming electron, with millions of electron volts of energy, could generate the experimentally observed broad spectrum of photons, each in the spectrum of 1-100 electron volts, with the high energy photons predominating.

This conversion from kinetic energy to photon as a result of atomic or electron collision and deceleration is thus a likely, or at least possible, mechanism for the observed photonic Cherenkov radiation.  The inelastic collision, rapid deceleration, and incomplete transfer or retention of kinetic energy is at the base of this energetic transfer.  When symbolically illustrating energy transfer upon collision between atoms, the Feynman diagram of energy transfer is employed.  In this representational system, the photon is considered to be the vehicle of force transfer, as well as the byproduct of incomplete transfer.  And, while both the nomenclature and concept are generally accurate, the “photon” that transmits the force of collision is actually a kinetic energy field, and the Force Particles being emitted by each electron engaged in the collision.  By examining the underlying field interactions associated with the collision we can represent the particulate interaction and movement in a more complete and mechanistic manner.

In the case of thermal collisions (i.e. at energies much less that 1 eV), the average energy gained and lost is constant in a isolated system at thermal equilibrium.  But, in an open system, energy is lost at the edges of the system, such as in a closed glass container filled with ice and water sitting in a laboratory.  

When thermal atoms collide with each other, in a gas, liquid or solid, they can strike at any angle from direct, to glancing.  The angle and directness of collision determines the amount of energy transferred from one to the next, and the rate of deceleration and acceleration of the next determines whether a full energetic transfer occurs, or if there is a component of radiation generated and leaked as a result of the mismatched collision.  

As the incoming atoms come closer, their outermost charges will interact and repel because of the mutually negative outer electron orbital shells.  The result will be that the incoming particle will decelerate because of the force opposing its kinetic energy, momentum, and inertia.  The result will be that the kinetic energy field associated with the incoming particle will transit to the target atom, and in a complex dance, energy will be transferred from the one atom to the next.

In the high energy collision between the relativistic charged particle and the dielectric refractive medium, the incoming particle repels or attracts the target particles, and thus imparts kinetic energy to the atoms in the lattice or molecules.  The photons generated from these high energy collisions create Cherenkov radiation in a collision melee that also creates Bremsstrahlung radiation, transition radiation, and ionization.  

When the incoming particles strike a direct or glancing blow to an atom bonded to a molecule or lattice, and those atoms strike other atoms, the incompletely transferred kinetic energy is lost to space as a photon.  The target atoms in the refractive media provide a larger inertial resistance than their mass since they are bonded to molecules or lattice.  This bulk structure also provides repulsion that brakes the velocity of the incoming charged particles and causes less kinetic energy to be transmitted in the collision.  

The kinetic energy of the incoming particle is thus either transmitted as kinetic energy and stored potential energy in compressed bonds, or it is lost as radiation in the process of deceleration.  And, this broad spectrum high energy thermal type radiation is the basis for the Cherenkov radiation, which is only unique in the sense that the incoming particle is moving so fast that the leading edge of the photons generated by the kinetic energy release are radiating out from the track of the particle in such a way as to create a bow shock pattern of outward radiating photons.

An expansion of this phenomenon of conversion from kinetic energy to photonic energy follows.  The incoming particle has a kinetic energy field, consisting of the collapsing magnetic field generated in the trailing edge of the particle, which generates the E field that propels the mass forward.  The inertia of the target particle resists the movement by the incoming particle.  When the mass is equal, and the angle of attack is 0, the kinetic energy transfer is complete, passing fully from the incoming to target mass without loss or delay, much like a direct-on billiard ball shot.  But when the mass/inertia of the incoming and target mass are mismatched, there will be incomplete energy transfer.  In the case of the comparatively massive target, the incoming mass will reflect.  The incoming energy is able to only transfer an amount equal to the conservation of momentum.  The component of velocity perpendicular to the center of mass and surface will be reflected back, minus the amount of kinetic energy corresponding to the conservation of momentum.  Likewise a heavy incoming and light target mass collision will result in only a partial kinetic energy transfer, since the amount of momentum the target can absorb with the incoming velocity is unable to create that level of kinetic energy.