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meV, keV, MeV, GeV, TeV and PeV redirect here. For other uses, see MEV, KEV, GEV, TEV and PEV.

In physics, the electronvolt (symbol eV; also written electron volt) is a unit of energy equal to approximately 160 zeptojoules (symbol zJ) or 1.6×10 joules (symbol J). By definition, it is the amount of energy gained (or lost) by the charge of a single electron moved across an electric potential difference of one volt. Thus it is 1 volt (1 joule per coulomb, 1 J/C) multiplied by the elementary charge (e, or 1.602176565(35)×10 C). Therefore, one electron volt is equal to 1.602176565(35)×10 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 definition is empirical (unlike the litre, the light year and other such non-SI units), thus its value in SI units must be obtained experimentally. Like the elementary charge on which it is based, it is not an independent quantity but is equal to 1 J/C2hα / μ0c0. 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 metric prefixes milli-, kilo-, mega-, giga-, tera-, peta- or exa- (meV, keV, MeV, GeV, TeV, PeV and EeV respectively). Thus meV stands for milli-electron volt.

In some older documents, and in the name Bevatron, the symbol BeV is used, which stands for billion electron volts; it is equivalent to the GeV.


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