De Broglie Particle-Wave Duality

By Mark Blasini

France. 7th duc de Broglie was born on August 15. he introduced a new field of study in the new science of quantum physics: Wave Mechanics! . In this very seminal work he explains his hypothesis about electrons: that electrons. he later turned his attention to physics and mathematics. like photons. after deciding a career in physics and mathematics. in Dieppe. During the First World War. can act like a particle and a wave.Louis de Broglie  Louis. 5th duc de Broglie. Although he originally wanted a career as a humanist (and even received his first degree in history). 1892. he wrote his doctoral thesis entitled Research on the Quantum Theory.  In 1924. He was the son of Victor. he helped the French army with radio communications. With this new discovery.

 Here is one: . water. Waves are disturbances through a medium (air. that usually transfer energy. empty vacuum).Fundamentals of Wave Mechanics  First a little basics about waves.

and how many bumps there are per second is called the frequency (f). The equations for both are: ω = 2πf and k = 2π/ λ . The velocity at which the wave crest moves is jointly proportional to λ and f: V=λf  Now there are two velocities associated with the wave: the group velocity (v) and the phase velocity (V).)  The distance between each bump is called a wavelength (λ).Fundamentals of Wave Mechanics (Cont’d. When dealing with waves going in oscillations (cycles of periodic movements). we use notations of angular frequency (ω) and the wavenumber (k) – which is inversely proportional to the wavelength.

. it is often the case that the phase velocity will be greater than the group velocity.Fundamentals (Cont’d)  The phase velocity of the wave (V) is directly proportional to the angular frequency. Since the group velocity is the derivative of the phase velocity. for any waves that are not electromagnetic. the phase velocity will be greater than ‘c’ – or the speed of light.0 * 108 m/s. but inversely proportional to the wavenumber. 3. or: V=ω/k The phase velocity is the velocity of the oscillation (phase) of the wave.  The group velocity is equal to the derivative of the angular frequency with respect to the wavenumber. or: v=dω/dk The group velocity is the velocity at which the energy of the wave propagates. Indeed.

Let us look at how there is a relationship between them. We get from Einstein (and Planck) two equations for energy: E = h f (photoelectric effect) & E = mc2 (Einstein’s Special Relativity) Now let us join the two equations: E = h f = m c2 . in his research.Derivation for De Broglie Equation  De Broglie. decided to look at Einstein’s research on photons – or particles of light – and how it was possible for light to be considered both a wave and a particle.

also? . but does it work for particles other than photons.)  From there we get: h f = p c (where p = mc. or in this case c / f ): h / mc = λ De Broglie saw that this works perfectly for light waves.Derivation (Cont’d. for the momentum of a photon) h/p=c/f Substituting what we know for wavelengths (λ = v / f.

He equated these two equations: V = ω / k = E / p (from his earlier equation c = (h f) / p )  However. He saw . De Broglie hypothesized that the particle itself was not a wave. that the phase velocity was equal to the angular frequency divided by the wavenumber. he would have to associate two wave velocities with the particle.Derivation (Cont’d. This wave always accompanies the particle. but always had with it a pilot wave.)  In order to explain his hypothesis. or a wave that helps guide the particle through space and time. He postulated that the group velocity of the wave was equal to the actual velocity of the particle. Since he was trying to find a velocity that fit for all particles (not just photons) he associated the phase velocity with that velocity. the phase velocity would be very much different.

as well as photons.Derivation (Cont’d)  From this new equation from the phase velocity we can derive: V = m c2 / m v = c2 / v Applied to Einstein’s energy equation. we have: E = p V = m v (c2 / v) This is extremely helpful because if we look at a photon traveling at the velocity c: V = c2 / c = c The phase velocity is equal to the group velocity! This allows for the equation to be applied to particles. .

Derivation (Cont’d)  Now we can get to an actual derivation of the De Broglie equation: p=E/V p = (h f) / V p=h/λ With a little algebra. we can switch this to: λ=h/mv This is the equation De Broglie discovered in his 1924 doctoral thesis! It accounts for both waves and particles. mentioning the momentum (particle aspect) and the wavelength (wave aspect). This simple equation proves to be one of the most useful. and famous. equations in quantum mechanics! .

De Broglie and Bohr  De Broglie’s equation brought relief to many people. Niels Bohr had postulated in his quantum theory that the angular momentum of an electron in orbit around the nucleus of the atom is equal to an integer multiplied with h / 2π. especially Niels Bohr. we get: n h / m v = 2π r This is exactly in relation to Niels Bohr’s postulate! . or: n h / 2π = m v r We get the equation now for standing waves: n λ = 2π r Using De Broglie’s equation.

Using what we have with De Broglie: E = p V = (h V) / λ Another note. we know that mass changes as the velocity of the object goes faster. Let us try using De Broglie’s equation in relation to Einstein’s equations for relativity. we can see: p = m v / (1 – v / V) ½ = m v / (1 – k x / ω t ) ½ One can see how wave mechanics can be applied to even Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein proposed this about Energy: E = M c2 where M = m / (1 – v2 / c2) ½ and m is rest mass. but can also be applied to larger particles. It is much bigger than we all can imagine! . such as our everyday objects. so: p = (M v) Substituting with the other wave equations. such as electrons and protons.De Broglie and Relativity  Not only is De Broglie’s equation useful for small particles.

 He died in 1987.) . Let us pay him tribute as CW Oseen. if it could be of any help to anyone. In 1929 Louis. France.Conclusion  We can see very clearly how helpful De Broglie’s equation has been to physics. in Paris. and even physics itself. did when he said about de Broglie: “You have covered in fresh glory a name already crowned for centuries with honour. and for Louis de Broglie himself.” It was a very special moment in history. 7th duc de Broglie received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “discovery of the wave nature of electrons. His research on the wave-particle duality is one of the biggest paradigms in quantum mechanics.” (On the next two slides contains an appendix on the relation between wave mechanics and relativity. having never been married. the Chairman for the Nobel Committee for Physics.

v2 / c2) ½ .k x / ω t ) ½. using Einstein’s equation for Energy. . and vice versa. Of course.  Similarly.v2 / c2) ½ . We have.v2 / c2) ½ I pointed out earlier that c2 / v2 can be replaced with ω t / k x.Appendix: Wave Mechanics and Relativity  We get from Einstein these equations from his Special Theory of Relativity: t = T / (1 . two equations satisfying Energy: E = h F = M c2. M = m / (1 . which gives us the final equation for Energy: E = h f / (1 . you could replace the k x / ω t with k v / ω. in the case of time. it is careful to observe this relativity being applied to wave mechanics. so does the frequency F (which shall be used as f for earlier slides due to the same reasoning): E = h f / (1 .v2 / c2) ½ . Since mass M (which shall be used as m for intent purposes on the early slides where I derive De Broglie’s equation) undergoes relativistic changes. L = l (1 . One can see the relationship then that wave mechanics would have on all particles.

it is also worthy to take in mind dealing with supra-relativity (my own coined term for events that occur with objects traveling faster than the speed of light). M = m / (1 . Although no superluminal communication or energy transfer occurs under such a velocity. Einstein’s equations refined: t = T / (1 . we could measure his conditions under the particle’s velocity. it would be interesting to see what mechanics could arise from just such a situation. A person traveling on the phase wave is traveling at velocity V.Appendix (Cont’d)  With this in mind.x / X ) ½ . Using classical laws: X=Vt We see when we analyze ω t / k x that we can fiddle with the math: kx/ωt= x/Vt=X/x Thus. . L = l (1 . His position would then be X. It would be interesting to note that the phase velocity is usually greater than the speed of light.x / X ) ½ . if we imagined a particle (or a miniature man) traveling on the phase wave. Take it as you will.x / X ) ½ Essentially.

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