Density matrix Explicitly, suppose a quantum system may be found in state with probability p1, or it may be found in state with probability p2, or it may be found in state with probability p3, and so on. The density operator for this system is By choosing a basis (which need not be orthogonal), one may resolve the density operator into the density matrix, whose elements are For an operator (which describes an observable is given by In words, the expectation value of A for the mixed state is the sum of the expectation values of A for each of the pure states Mixed states arise in situations where the experimenter does not know which particular states are being manipulated. Pure and mixed states In quantum mechanics, a quantum system is represented by a state vector (or ket) . is called a pure state. and a 50% chance that the state vector is . A mixed state is different from a quantum superposition. Example: Light polarization An example of pure and mixed states is light polarization. . and . . .
Quantum harmonic oscillator Some trajectories of a harmonic oscillator according to Newton's laws of classical mechanics (A-B), and according to the Schrödinger equation of quantum mechanics (C-H). In A-B, the particle (represented as a ball attached to a spring) oscillates back and forth. In C-H, some solutions to the Schrödinger Equation are shown, where the horizontal axis is position, and the vertical axis is the real part (blue) or imaginary part (red) of the wavefunction. C,D,E,F, but not G,H, are energy eigenstates. H is a coherent state, a quantum state which approximates the classical trajectory. The quantum harmonic oscillator is the quantum-mechanical analog of the classical harmonic oscillator. One-dimensional harmonic oscillator Hamiltonian and energy eigenstates Wavefunction representations for the first eight bound eigenstates, n = 0 to 7. Corresponding probability densities. where m is the particle's mass, ω is the angular frequency of the oscillator, is the position operator, and and Proof:
Interaction picture Equations that include operators acting at different times, which hold in the interaction picture, don't necessarily hold in the Schrödinger or the Heisenberg picture. This is because time-dependent unitary transformations relate operators in one picture to the analogous operators in the others. Definition Operators and state vectors in the interaction picture are related by a change of basis (unitary transformation) to those same operators and state vectors in the Schrödinger picture. Any possible choice of parts will yield a valid interaction picture; but in order for the interaction picture to be useful in simplifying the analysis of a problem, the parts will typically be chosen so that H0,S is well understood and exactly solvable, while H1,S contains some harder-to-analyze perturbation to this system. by the corresponding time-evolution operator in the definitions below. State vectors A state vector in the interaction picture is defined as Operators References
Applications Finite potential well The finite potential well (also known as the finite square well) is a concept from quantum mechanics. It is an extension of the infinite potential well, in which a particle is confined to a box, but one which has finite potential walls. Unlike the infinite potential well, there is a probability associated with the particle being found outside the box. The quantum mechanical interpretation is unlike the classical interpretation, where if the total energy of the particle is less than potential energy barrier of the walls it cannot be found outside the box. In the quantum interpretation, there is a non-zero probability of the particle being outside the box even when the energy of the particle is less than the potential energy barrier of the walls (cf quantum tunnelling). Particle in a 1-dimensional box For the 1-dimensional case on the x-axis, the time-independent Schrödinger equation can be written as: where is Planck's constant, is the mass of the particle, at x = -L/2 and x = L/2. and
Schrödinger picture In physics, the Schrödinger picture (also called the Schrödinger representation) is a formulation of quantum mechanics in which the state vectors evolve in time, but the operators (observables and others) are constant with respect to time. This differs from the Heisenberg picture which keeps the states constant while the observables evolve in time, and from the interaction picture in which both the states and the observables evolve in time. The Schrödinger and Heisenberg pictures are related as active and passive transformations and have the same measurement statistics. In the Schrödinger picture, the state of a system evolves with time. The evolution for a closed quantum system is brought about by a unitary operator, the time evolution operator. at time to a state vector , the time-evolution operator is commonly written , and one has where the exponent is evaluated via its Taylor series. The Schrödinger picture is useful when dealing with a time-independent Hamiltonian H; that is,
Interpretations of quantum mechanics An interpretation of quantum mechanics is a set of statements which attempt to explain how quantum mechanics informs our understanding of nature. Although quantum mechanics has held up to rigorous and thorough experimental testing, many of these experiments are open to different interpretations. There exist a number of contending schools of thought, differing over whether quantum mechanics can be understood to be deterministic, which elements of quantum mechanics can be considered "real", and other matters. This question is of special interest to philosophers of physics, as physicists continue to show a strong interest in the subject. They usually consider an interpretation of quantum mechanics as an interpretation of the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics, specifying the physical meaning of the mathematical entities of the theory. History of interpretations Main quantum mechanics interpreters Nature of interpretation Two qualities vary among interpretations:
Particle in a box In quantum mechanics, the particle in a box model (also known as the infinite potential well or the infinite square well) describes a particle free to move in a small space surrounded by impenetrable barriers. The model is mainly used as a hypothetical example to illustrate the differences between classical and quantum systems. In classical systems, for example a ball trapped inside a large box, the particle can move at any speed within the box and it is no more likely to be found at one position than another. However, when the well becomes very narrow (on the scale of a few nanometers), quantum effects become important. The particle may only occupy certain positive energy levels. The particle in a box model provides one of the very few problems in quantum mechanics which can be solved analytically, without approximations. One-dimensional solution The simplest form of the particle in a box model considers a one-dimensional system. where is the length of the box and is time. and . . .
Path integral formulation The path integral also relates quantum and stochastic processes, and this provided the basis for the grand synthesis of the 1970s which unified quantum field theory with the statistical field theory of a fluctuating field near a second-order phase transition. The Schrödinger equation is a diffusion equation with an imaginary diffusion constant, and the path integral is an analytic continuation of a method for summing up all possible random walks. For this reason path integrals were used in the study of Brownian motion and diffusion a while before they were introduced in quantum mechanics. These are just three of the paths that contribute to the quantum amplitude for a particle moving from point A at some time t0 to point B at some other time t1. Quantum action principle But the Hamiltonian in classical mechanics is derived from a Lagrangian, which is a more fundamental quantity considering special relativity. and where and the partial derivative now is with respect to p at fixed q.
Quantum Physics Revealed As Non-Mysterious This is one of several shortened indices into the Quantum Physics Sequence. Hello! You may have been directed to this page because you said something along the lines of "Quantum physics shows that reality doesn't exist apart from our observation of it," or "Science has disproved the idea of an objective reality," or even just "Quantum physics is one of the great mysteries of modern science; no one understands how it works." There was a time, roughly the first half-century after quantum physics was invented, when this was more or less true. Certainly, when quantum physics was just being discovered, scientists were very confused indeed! The series of posts indexed below will show you - not just tell you - what's really going on down there. Some optional preliminaries you might want to read: Reductionism: We build models of the universe that have many different levels of description. And here's the main sequence: