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Quantum Mechanics Review

Quantum Mechanics Review

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Recall in classical mechanics, we define a counterclockwise rotation of a vector

about the z-axis by:

¯x = xcos(φ0)ysin(φ0)

¯y = xsin(φ0) +ycos(φ0)

¯x
¯y

=

cos(φ0)sin(φ0)
sin(φ0) cos(φ0)

x
y

And we identify a rotation matrix

R(φ) =

cos(φ)sin(φ)
sin(φ) cos(φ)

which also rotates momentum vectors.

In QM, define the operator ˆ

U[R(φˆz)] as the operator which rotates a vector in

Hilbert space:

|ψ

ˆU[R]
−−−→|ψR = ˆ

U[R]|ψ

Here we abbreviate ˆ

U[R(φˆz)] ˆ

U[R] and the rotated vector |ψR must satisfy

ˆx R = ψR|ˆx|ψR = ˆx cos(φ0)ˆy sin(φ0)
ˆy R = ψR|ˆy|ψR = ˆx sin(φ0) + ˆy cos(φ0)

where

ˆx = ψ|ˆx|ψ
ˆy = ψ|ˆy|ψ

9.4. ROTATIONS, ROTATIONAL INVARIANCE, AND CONS. OF ANG. MOM.

121

and similar expression hold for the x and y components of momentum.

Remark 1: Operating ˆ

U[R] on position eigenkets:

ˆ
U[R]|x,y =|xcos(ψ0)ysin(φ0),xsin(φ0) +ycos(φ0)

Now consider infinitesimal rotations about the z-axis:

ˆ
U[R(εˆz)] = ˆ

I + εzˆ

Lz

i

where ˆ

Lz is the generator of infinitesimal rotations. Consider now this action on

a position eigenket:

ˆ
U[R]|x,y =|xyεz,y +xεz

From this, we can show that

x,y

ˆ
I + εzˆ

Lz

i

ψ

= ψ(x +yεz,yxεz)

Expanding this to O(εz):

x,y

ˆ

I

ψ

+ εz
i

x,y

ˆ

Lz

ψ

= ψ(x,y) + ∂ψ

∂x(εzy) + ∂ψ

∂y (εzx)

x,y

ˆ

Lz

ψ

=

i y ∂

∂xi x ∂
∂y

ψ(x,y)

So in position representation

ˆ

Lzx

i
∂y

y

i
∂x

or, more generally,

ˆ
Lz = ˆxˆpyˆyˆpx

()

Remark 2: Putting () into momentum representation and acting on ψ(px,py)

rotates the momentum space wavefunctionso that momentum expecta-

tions are consistant with classical rotations.

Remark 3: The passive version of a rotational transformation has:

ˆ
U†[R]ˆxˆ

U[R] = ˆxˆyεz

ˆ
U†[R]ˆyˆ

U[R] = ˆxεz + ˆy

ˆ
U†[R]ˆpx ˆ

U[R] = ˆpxˆpyεz

ˆ
U†[R]ˆpy ˆ

U[R] = ˆpy + ˆpxεz

(††)

122

CHAPTER 9. SYMMETRIES

Remark 4: Substitute the infinitesimal version of ˆ

U[R] (ˆ

I + εzˆ

Lz
i ) into (††) and

get, to O(εz):

ˆx, ˆ

Lz

=i ˆy

ˆy, ˆ

Lz

= i ˆx

ˆpx, ˆ

Lz

=i ˆpy

ˆpy, ˆ

Lz

= i ˆpy

ˆ

Lz = ˆxˆpyˆyˆpx

Remark 5: For finite rotations, take N infinitesimal rotations of size φ0/N as

N →∞

ˆU[R(φ0ˆz)] = lim

N→∞

ˆI i

φ0

N

ˆLz

N

= e−iφ0ˆ

Lz/

Writing ˆ

Lzx

i
∂y

y

i
∂x

in polar coordinates yields

ˆ

Lz →−i
∂φ

So

ˆ
U[R(φ0ˆz)] = e−φ ∂

∂φ

And

e−φ ∂

∂φ

ψ(ρ,φ) =

1φ0

∂φ + 1

2!φ2

0

∂2

∂φ2 +···

ψ(ρ,φ)

= ψ(ρ,φφ0)

Remark 6: Two consecutive rotations

ˆ
U[R(φ′0ˆz)]ˆ

U[Rφ0ˆz)] = ˆ

U[R((φ′0 +φ0)ˆz)]

Remark 7: Physically, ˆ

Lz is the angular momentum operator, which is analo-

gous to the classical definition, and is the generator of infinitesimal rota-

tions about the z axis.

Remark 8: If the system is invariant under rotations about the z axis, then

ˆ
U†[R] ˆ

H(ˆx, ˆpx, ˆy, ˆpy)ˆ

U[R] = ˆ

H(ˆx, ˆpx, ˆy, ˆpy)

9.4. ROTATIONS, ROTATIONAL INVARIANCE, AND CONS. OF ANG. MOM.

123

Expanding this to order εz for infinitesimal rotations gives

ˆ

Lz, ˆ
H

= 0

which implies

1.

ˆ

Lz

equals a constant, which then implies that angular mo-
mentum is conserved.

2. Outcomes of experiments on rotationally invariant systems will

be the same for differing orientations of the system.

3. ˆ

Lz and ˆ

H can be simultaneously diagonalized, and therefore a

common eigenbasis exists

Remark 9: A transformation which consists of a product of translations and ro-

tations will, in general, depend on the order of individual transformations–

e.g. translations and rotations do not commute.

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