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• Quantum Mechanics

Complex Numbers and Quantum Mechanics Julian Stetzler and David Shoup

Department of Math and Science, Alvernia University, 400 St. Bernardine St., Reading, PA 19607

Introduction to Complex Numbers

Acknowledgements This work was funded by Alvernia University’s Student Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) Program and the Math and Science Department.

Applications of Quantum Theories References

Complex numbers can be written in the form 𝑎𝑎 + 𝑏𝑏𝑏𝑏 where 𝑏𝑏 = −1. So real numbers exist in the complex plane with imaginary part 𝑏𝑏 = 0. Complex analysis has provided many important theorems that allow us to solve difficult problems easily.

Leonard Euler developed the relationship between trigonometric functions (wave functions) and complex numbers:

𝑒𝑒𝑖𝑖𝜃𝜃 = cos 𝜃𝜃 + 𝑏𝑏 sin 𝜃𝜃

This equation gives an understanding of solutions to Schrödinger’s equation, which is the foundation of quantum mechanics.

1. Griffiths, David and Schroeter, Darrell, “Introduction to Quantum Mechanics”, 3rd Edition, Cambridge Univ Press, 2018

2. Matthews, John, and Howell, Russell, “Complex Analysis for Mathematics and Engineering”, 5th Edition, Jones and Bartlett, 2006

3. Welch, Kerri, “The Texture of Time; The Meaning of Imaginary Time”, https://textureoftime.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-meaning-of- imaginary-time/

One of the most well-known theories from quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. This principle states

𝜎𝜎𝑥𝑥𝜎𝜎𝑝𝑝 ≥ ℏ 2

where 𝜎𝜎𝑥𝑥 is the standard deviation of position, 𝜎𝜎𝑝𝑝 is the standard deviation of the momentum, and ℏ is plank’s constant over 2π. This means that the uncertainty of the position and momentum must always be greater than or equal to some positive real number. Thus, no matter how precise the measurements, there always exists some level of uncertainty. We cannot have both position and momentum of a quantum particle well-defined simultaneously, because gaining certainty about one quantity necessarily involves losing certainty about the other.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is a specific case of a more general theory of uncertainty. The more general principle takes the form

𝜎𝜎𝐴𝐴𝜎𝜎𝐵𝐵 ≥ 1 2𝑏𝑏

[�̂�𝐴, �𝐵𝐵 2

and states that overall uncertainty in the two incompatible observables must always exceed a particular threshold. For example, energy and time exhibit this property

Δ𝑡𝑡Δ𝐸𝐸 ≥ ℏ 2

Classical mechanics predicts the behavior of some mass 𝑚𝑚 being acted upon by a force 𝐹𝐹(𝑥𝑥, 𝑡𝑡). Given initial conditions, we can determine • Position 𝑥𝑥(𝑡𝑡) • Velocity 𝑣𝑣 𝑡𝑡 = 𝑑𝑑𝑥𝑥

𝑑𝑑𝑑𝑑 • Momentum 𝑝𝑝 𝑡𝑡 = 𝑚𝑚 � 𝑣𝑣(𝑡𝑡) • Kinetic Energy 𝑇𝑇 𝑡𝑡 = 1

2 � 𝑚𝑚 � 𝑣𝑣(𝑡𝑡)2

• Other variables of interest

Quantum mechanics (on an atomic scale) attempts to solve for the likely behavior of a particle subject to Schrödinger’s equation

𝑏𝑏ℏ 𝜕𝜕Ѱ 𝜕𝜕𝑡𝑡

= − ℏ2

2𝑚𝑚 𝜕𝜕2Ψ 𝜕𝜕𝑥𝑥2

+ 𝑉𝑉Ψ

• Ψ 𝑥𝑥, 𝑡𝑡 is the particle’s wave function, which determines the likelihood of finding the particle at a point 𝑥𝑥 at a given time 𝑡𝑡. The probability is found by determining the area under the graph of |Ψ 𝑥𝑥, 𝑡𝑡 |2.

• ℏ is Planck's constant over 2π • 𝑚𝑚 is the mass of the particle • 𝑏𝑏 = −1 • 𝑉𝑉 is the potential energy function

The Uncertainty Principle

Solving the Schrödinger Equation The Schrödinger equation can be solved by separation of variables. We first assume solutions of the form

Ψ 𝑥𝑥, 𝑡𝑡 = 𝜓𝜓(𝑥𝑥)𝜑𝜑(𝑡𝑡) and while this seems restrictive, we will be able to patch together the separate solutions 𝜓𝜓(𝑥𝑥) and 𝜑𝜑(𝑡𝑡) to arrive at the more general solution. Essentially, we must solve both

𝑑𝑑𝜑𝜑 𝑑𝑑𝑡𝑡

= − 𝑏𝑏𝐸𝐸 ħ 𝜑𝜑

which is easily solvable as an ordinary differential equation with solution

𝜑𝜑 𝑡𝑡 = 𝑒𝑒 −𝑖𝑖𝑖𝑖𝑖𝑖 ħ

and the equation

− ħ2

2𝑚𝑚 𝑑𝑑2𝜓𝜓 𝑑𝑑𝑥𝑥2

+ 𝑉𝑉𝜓𝜓 = 𝐸𝐸𝜓𝜓 which depends on the potential function 𝑉𝑉(𝑥𝑥) in the problem. This differential equation yields an infinite collection of solutions 𝜓𝜓1 𝑥𝑥 ,𝜓𝜓2 𝑥𝑥 , … ,𝜓𝜓𝑛𝑛 𝑥𝑥 , … , but the linear combination of these solutions multiplied by 𝜑𝜑 𝑡𝑡 and summed together yields the general solution to the Schrödinger equation. All of this provides us with • Stationary states (long term solutions) that are independent of time. • States of definite total energy: unlike classical mechanics where matter can take on any energy level,

including zero, particles on the quantum level are bound to specific energy levels, and thus may never remain still.

• A general solution that allows us to compute the likely location of the particle given the potential energy of the system.

And the

As an example, consider the infinite square well, consisting of infinite potential outside some finite zone (0,𝑎𝑎), and zero potential within the zone. In the classical mechanics sense, this is similar to a car on a frictionless track bouncing between two bumpers at constant speed. The car is equally likely to be found anywhere within the zone. But the quantum case is quite different.

Using this particular potential 𝑉𝑉(𝑥𝑥), solutions of Schrödinger’s equation with initial conditions 𝜓𝜓 0 = 𝜓𝜓 𝑎𝑎 = 0 take the form of sine waves

𝜓𝜓𝑛𝑛 𝑥𝑥 = 2 𝑎𝑎

sin 𝑛𝑛𝜋𝜋 𝑎𝑎 𝑥𝑥 , 𝑛𝑛 = 1,2,3, …

which provide solutions for the various energy levels.

The Atom Since quantum particles, such as electrons, can only exist in certain energy states, as determined by Schrödinger's equation and the effective potential of the atom being studied, we can accurately map the likely location of these particles as they orbit the nucleus.

The easiest case is the hydrogen atom, which consists of only one electron orbiting a single proton. Solutions to Schrödinger's equation accurately model the orbital behavior of the electron as studied by chemists.

2s orbital, with two bands corresponding to two peaks of the corresponding graph.

Using complex numbers, physicists can use quantum theory to solve problems related to chemistry, optics, computing, telecommunications, medical imaging, and global positioning systems. As technology continues to improve, the demand for an understanding of the behavior of subatomic particles increases.

2p orbital.

Here the graph of |Ψ 𝑥𝑥, 𝑡𝑡 |2 provides the likeliest location of electrons, in terms of distance from the nucleus, for the 2s and 2p orbital energy levels. The actual orbital shapes are shown below. The darker areas represent high probabilities of finding the electron and the white space indicates no probability.

Quantum Tunneling In classical mechanics if an object does not have enough energy to cross a potential barrier, it will not pass. In quantum mechanics, particles have a positive probability of passing through any finite potential barrier even if they do not have enough energy.

Slide Number 1

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