The Millikan Oil Drop Experiment is one of the most popular experiments in undergraduate physics for several reasons:
- The experimental principle is straightforward and easy to understand.
- It measures a fundamental atomic constant using a method that won its originator, Robert Millikan, the Nobel Prize.
- The observation of the effects of one or more electrons upon oil drops in an electric field provides a striking demonstration of the quantized nature of electricity.
Clear droplet observation and low droplet drift are essential for success with Millikan’s classic experiment. PASCO’s apparatus uses a pre-aligned optical system and special condenser to achieve these conditions.
Accuracy in the Oil Drop Experiment depends on the student’s ability to precisely measure all the variables involved: plate voltage, plate separation, time and distance of droplet rise and fall, temperature, oil density, etc. Extreme care taken in the design and manufacture of this unit ensures that the student’s best efforts will be rewarded with more accurate results. Typically, a careful student can achieve results within 3% or less of the accepted value.