What is Planck's constant? - Definition from WhatIs.com

Definition

Planck's constant

Part of the IT standards and organizations glossary:

Planck's constant, symbolized h, relates the energy in one quantum (photon) of electromagnetic radiation to the frequency of that radiation. In the International System of units (SI), the constant is equal to approximately 6.626176 x 10-34 joule-seconds. In the centimeter-gram-second (cgs) or small-unit metric system, it is equal to approximately 6.626176 x 10-27 erg-seconds.

The energy E contained in a photon, which represents the smallest possible 'packet' of energy in an electromagnetic wave, is directly proportional to the frequency f according to the following equation:

E = hf

If E is given in joules and f is given in hertz (the unit measure of frequency), then:

E = (6.626176 x 10-34) f

and conversely:

f = E / (6.626176 x 10-34)

Also see electromagnetic field, energy, frequency, SI, and Table of Physical Units and Constants.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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