Difference Between Photon and Electron

Photon vs Electron

An electron is a sub atomic particle that plays a vital role in almost everything. The photon is a conceptual packet of energy, which is very important in quantum mechanics. Electron and photon are two concepts that developed greatly with the development of quantum mechanics. It is vital to have a proper understanding in these concepts, in order to understand the field of quantum mechanics, classical mechanics and related fields properly. In this article, we are going to discuss what electron and photon are, their definitions, the similarities and finally the differences between electron and photon.


An atom is made of a nucleus that is positively charged and it contains almost all of the mass and electrons orbiting around the nucleus. These electrons are negatively charged, and they contain a very small amount of mass compared to the nucleus. An electron has a rest mass of 9.11 x 10-31 kilograms. The electron falls into the sub atomic particle family fermions. The electrons have half integer values as spin. The spin is a property describing the angular momentum of the electron. The classical theory of electron described the electron as a particle orbiting around the nucleus. With the development of the quantum mechanics, it was seen that the electron also behaved as a wave. The electron has specific energy levels. The orbit of the electron is now defined as the probability function of finding the electron around the nucleus. It is now concluded that electron behaves as both a wave and a particle. When a travelling electron is considered some of the wave properties become prominent than the particle properties. When interactions are concerned, particle properties are more prominent than the wave properties. The electron has a charge of – 1.602 x 10-19 C. This is the smallest amount of charge any system can obtain. All other charges are multiplications of the unit charge of the electron.


Photon is a topic discussed in wave mechanics. In the quantum theory, it is observed that waves also have particle properties. The photon is the particle of the wave. It is a fixed amount of energy depending only on the frequency of the wave. The energy of the photon is given by the equation E = h f, where E is the energy of the photon, h is the Plank constant, and f is the frequency of the wave. Photons are considered as packets of energy. With the development of relativity, it was discovered that waves also have a mass. This is because waves behave as particles on interactions with matter. However, the rest mass of a photon is zero. When a photon is moving with the speed of light, it has a relativistic mass of E/C2, where E is the energy of the photon and C is the seed of light in a vacuum.


What is the difference between photon and electron?

• Photon is a packet of energy while electron is a mass. 

• The photon does not have a rest mass but an electron has a rest mass.

• The photon can go at the speed of light, but for an electron, it is theoretically impossible to obtain the speed of light.

• The photon displays more wave properties whereas the electron displays more particle properties.


  • Christopher

    Electron rest mass is 9.11 x 10^-31 (not 10^-3)!!!