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03/18/2014

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Copyright \u00a9 Ryan Jadrich 2007

-1 -

Quantum Explanations \u2013 Issue II

-Spherical Harmonics (Angular Momentum)

Author: Ryan Jadrich

Last Update: November 30, 2007

Introduction: Angular momentum on the macroscopic scale is really a trivial thing to

discuss and model. Angular momentum has the exact same relations as linear momentum

and is governed by strikingly similar equations. In the quantum world though something

interesting happens with angular momentum. It becomes quantized like all other quantum

things. You get certain energy levels and only certain states for the given quantum object

which in this case will be a simple diatomic molecule. Working out this particular

example is extremely complex and is possibly one of the most difficult examples to work

out that can be solved exactly. After mastering this, the solution to the hydrogen atom is

much less complex.

Explanation:

Part I. \u2013 First off we will consider what is called Legendre\u2019s differential equation and its

unique solutions. This will be integral to our concept of quantum angular momentum.

The Legendre equation is stated below:

)

1

(

0

)

1

(

'

2

'

'

)

1

(

2

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

y

n

n

xy

y

x

This equation can be solved using a power series method and we will try the general

solution:

)

2

(

0

k

k

kx

c

y\ue00b\ue006\ue002

\ue002

We can then take all the necessary derivatives of this trial function:

2

2

1

1

0

)

1

(

'

'

'

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

\ue006\ue002

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue001

\ue002

\ue002

\ue002

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

x

k

k

c

y

x

k

c

y

x

c

y

Copyright \u00a9 Ryan Jadrich 2007

-2 -

We can the plug in all of our functions into the Legendre equation (1) and get a new

expression in terms of power series.

)

3

(

0

)

1

(

2

)

1

(

)

1

(

0

1

1

2

2

2

\ue002

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue000

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010

\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue001

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue006\ue002

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

x

c

n

n

x

k

c

x

x

k

k

c

x

We then simplify a little bit by multiplying through and get:

0

)

1

(

2

)

1

(

)

1

(

0

1

2

2

2

\ue002

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue000

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue001

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue006\ue002

\ue006\ue002

\ue006\ue002

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

x

c

n

n

x

k

c

x

k

k

c

x

k

k

c

Then we will take out necessary terms from each summation so that each summation

starts at the same power of x which will be needed in order to combine power series.

0

)

1

(

)

1

(

)

1

(

...

...

2

2

)

1

(

...

...

)

1

(

6

2

2

1

0

2

1

2

2

4

3

2

\ue002

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue001

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue001

\ue000

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue00b\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue00b

\ue006\ue002

\ue006\ue002

\ue006\ue002

\ue001

\ue006\ue002

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

k

x

c

n

n

x

c

n

n

c

n

n

x

k

c

x

c

x

k

k

c

x

k

k

c

x

c

c

Then after reorganizing a bit and using a j substitution for k so that all of the power series

begin with the same index number we end up with.

\ue000

\ue001 \ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue001

0

)

1

)(

(

)

1

)(

2

(

6

)

2

)(

1

(

2

)

1

(

2

2

3

1

2

0

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue00b\ue006\ue002

\ue000

j

j

j

j

x

c

j

n

j

n

c

j

j

x

c

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

For this expression to be true for all x it is necessary that all of the coefficients which are

the bracketed parts be zero. This leads to:

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue001

,...

4

,

3

,

2

)

1

)(

2

(

)

1

)(

(

0

)

1

)(

(

)

1

)(

2

(

!

3

)

2

)(

1

(

0

6

)

2

)(

1

(

!

2

)

1

(

0

2

)

1

(

2

2

1

3

3

1

0

2

2

0

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue007

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue007

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue001

\ue002

\ue007

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000\ue000

\ue000

j

for

c

j

j

j

n

j

n

c

c

j

n

j

n

c

j

j

c

n

n

c

x

c

c

n

n

c

n

n

c

c

c

n

n

j

j

j

j

Copyright \u00a9 Ryan Jadrich 2007

-3 -

The first few coefficients turn out to be:

1

5

7

0

4

6

1

3

5

0

2

4

1

3

0

2

1

1

0

0

!

7

)

6

)(

4

)(

2

)(

1

)(

3

)(

5

(

6

7

)

6

)(

5

(

!

6

)

5

)(

3

)(

1

(

)

2

)(

4

(

5

6

)

5

)(

4

(

!

5

)

4

)(

2

)(

1

)(

3

(

4

5

)

4

)(

3

(

!

4

)

3

)(

1

(

)

2

(

3

4

)

3

)(

2

(

!

3

)

2

)(

1

(

!

2

)

1

(

c

n

n

n

n

n

n

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

n

n

n

n

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

n

n

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

n

n

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

c

c

n

n

c

c

c

c

c

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue00a

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue00a

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue00a

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue002

\ue00a

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue000

\ue001

\ue002

\ue002\ue002

Now we can form two linearly independent solutions from these coefficients and the

form of a power series given as equation (2).

\ue017\ue017\ue017\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue010\ue010\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue002

\ue017\ue018\ue016

\ue010\ue011\ue00f

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue001

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue000

\ue000

\ue001

\ue002

...

!

7

)

6

)(

4

)(

2

)(

1

)(

3

)(

5

(

...

...

!

5

)

4

)(

2

)(

1

)(

3

(

!

3

)

2

)(

1

(

...

!

6

)

5

)(

3

)(

1

(

)

2

)(

4

(

!

4

)

3

)(

1

(

)

2

(

!

2

)

1

(

1

7

5

3

1

1

6

4

2

0

1

x

n

n

n

n

n

n

x

n

n

n

n

x

n

n

x

c

y

x

n

n

n

n

n

n

x

n

n

n

n

x

n

n

c

y

The neat thing about this solution is that for an even integer for n the first series will

terminate, and for an odd integer the second series will terminate. For this reason we take

are solution to the equation as whichever series will terminate, and we opt to chose are

coefficients in such a manner as to make them look uniform. These Legendre

polynomials are the only well behaved solutions to this equation which is needed in

quantum mechanics.

)

1

(

...

4

2

...

3

1

)

1

(

...

4

2

)

1

(

...

3

1

)

1

(

2

/

)

1

(

1

2

/

0

\ue001

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue001

\ue002

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue001

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue00a

\ue001

\ue002

\ue001

nn

c

n

n

c

n

n

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