The discovery of the photon was one of the major initiators of quantum mechanics.
Light was very well known to be a wave through diffraction experiments. So how could it also be a particle???
This was a key development for people to eventually notice that the electron is also a wave.
This process "started" in 1900 with Planck's law which was based on discrete energy packets being exchanged as exposed at On the Theory of the Energy Distribution Law of the Normal Spectrum by Max Planck (1900).
This ideas was reinforced by Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 in terms of photon.
In the next big development was the Bohr model in 1913, which supposed non-classical physics new quantization rules for the electron which explained the hydrogen emission spectrum. The quantization rule used made use of the Planck constant, and so served an initial link between the emerging quantized nature of light, and that of the electron.
The final phase started in 1923, when Louis de Broglie proposed that in analogy to photons, electrons might also be waves, a statement made more precise through the de Broglie relations.
This event opened the floodgates, and soon matrix mechanics was published in quantum mechanical re-interpretation of kinematic and mechanical relations by Heisenberg (1925), as the first coherent formulation of quantum mechanics.
It was followed by the Schrödinger equation in 1926, which proposed an equivalent partial differential equation formulation to matrix mechanics, a mathematical formulation that was more familiar to physicists than the matrix ideas of Heisenberg.
Inward Bound by Abraham Pais (1988) summarizes his views of the main developments of the subjectit:
- physics.stackexchange.com/questions/18632/good-book-on-the-history-of-quantum-mechanics on Physics Stack Exchange
- www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hVmeOCJjOU A Brief History of Quantum Mechanics by Sean Carroll (2020) Given at the Royal Institution.
- 1859-1900: see Section "Black-body radiation experiment". Continuously improving culminating in Planck's law black-body radiation and Planck's law
- 1905 photoelectric effect and the photon
- TODO experiments
- 1905 Einstein's photoelectric effect paper. Planck was intially thinking that light was continuous, but the atoms vibrated in a discrete way. Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect throws that out of the window, and considers the photon discrete.
- 1913 atomic spectra and the Bohr model
- 1885 Balmer series, an empirical formula describes some of the lines of the hydrogen emission spectrum
- 1888 Rydberg formula generalizes the Balmer series
- 1896 Pickering series makes it look like a star has some new kind of hydrogen that produces half-integer entries in the Pickering series
- 1911 Bohr visits J. J. Thomson in the University of Cambridge for his postdoc, but they don't get along well
- Bohr visits Rutherford at the University of Manchester and decides to transfer there. During this stay he becomes interested in problems of the electronic structure of the atom.Bohr was forced into a quantization postulate because spinning electrons must radiate energy and collapse, so he postulated that electrons must somehow magically stay in orbits without classically spinning.
- 1913 february: young physics professor Hans Hansen tells Bohr about the Balmer series. This is one of the final elements Bohr needed.
- 1913 Bohr model published predicts atomic spectral lines in terms of the Planck constant and other physical constant.
- explains the Pickering series as belonging to inoized helium that has a single electron. The half term in the spectral lines of this species come from the nucleus having twice the charge of hydrogen.
- 1913 March: during review before publication, Rutherford points out that instantaneous quantum jumps don't seem to play well with causality.
- 1916 Bohr-Sommerfeld model introduces angular momentum to explain why some lines are not observed, as they would violate the conservation of angular momentum.