In physics, the electron volt (symbol eV; also written electronvolt) is a unit of energy equal to approximately 1.602×10−19
J. By definition, it is equal to the amount of kinetic energy gained by a single unbound electron when it accelerates through an electric potential difference of one volt. Thus it is 1 volt (1 joule per coulomb) multiplied by the electron charge (1 e, or 1.60217653(14)×10−19
C). Therefore, one electron volt is equal to 1.60217653(14)×10−19
J. Historically, the electron volt was devised as a standard unit of measure through its usefulness in electrostatic particle accelerator sciences because a particle with charge q has an energy E=qV after passing through the potential V; if q is quoted in integer units of the elementary charge and the terminal bias in volts, one gets an energy in eV.
The electron volt is not an SI unit and its value must be obtained experimentally. It is a common unit of energy within physics, widely used in solid state, atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. It is commonly used with the SI prefixes milli-, kilo-, mega-, giga-, tera-, or peta- (meV, keV, MeV, GeV, TeV and PeV respectively). Thus meV stands for milli-electron volt.
In chemistry, it is often useful to have the molar equivalent, that is the kinetic energy that would be gained by one mole of electrons (6.02214179(30)×1023
) passing through a potential difference of one volt. This is equal to 96.48534(2) kJ/mol. Atomic properties like the ionization energy are often quoted in electron volts.
Full article ▸