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Is quantum theory intrinsically nonlinear?

View the table of contents for this issue, or go to the journal homepage for more

2013 Phys. Scr. 87 038117

(http://iopscience.iop.org/1402-4896/87/3/038117)

Home Search Collections Journals About Contact us My IOPscience

IOP PUBLISHING PHYSICA SCRIPTA

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 (10pp) doi:10.1088/0031-8949/87/03/038117

Is quantum theory intrinsically

nonlinear?

Dieter Schuch

Institut f¨ ur Theoretische Physik, J W Goethe-Universit¨ at Frankfurt am Main, Max-von-Laue-Straße 1,

D-60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

E-mail: Schuch@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Received 2 November 2012

Accepted for publication 4 December 2012

Published 11 February 2013

Online at stacks.iop.org/PhysScr/87/038117

Abstract

In contrast with classical physics, complex quantities have a fundamental physical meaning in

quantum physics and action, being essentially the quantized entity, should be given more

attention instead of focusing mainly on Hamiltonians or Lagrangians that have the dimension

of energy. Phase and amplitude of the complex quantities in (time-dependent and

time-independent) quantum mechanics are not independent of each other but coupled via some

conservation law. This coupling can be understood if the systems are described in terms of

complex nonlinear Riccati equations. These equations not only enable a connection to the

Pythagorean triples, probably the oldest and most abstract ‘quantization’ problem, but also

lead to dynamical invariants with the dimension of action. Factorization of the corresponding

operator provides generalized creation and annihilation operators, which is also possible for

dissipative systems where no conventional Hamiltonian formalism exists. Formal similarities

with other ﬁelds, particularly with nonlinear dynamics, are shown.

PACS numbers: 03.65.Ta, 03.65.−w, 03.65.Yz

1. Introduction

On 4 July 2012, CERN announced the discovery of a new

elementary particle that is probably the Higgs boson which

is needed to complete the standard model of elementary

particles. If it turns out to be true, is this the completion

of theoretical physics? Deﬁnitely not! Not only is the

uniﬁcation of the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces

with gravity still an unsolved puzzle, there are even more

serious shortcomings of the present state of theoretical physics

as, e.g. stated by Rothman in a recent paper [1]. He claims

that the building of theoretical physics resembles a dilapidated

Tower of Babel with many cracks. He correctly points out

that in the so-called fundamental equations of motion there is

no distinction between past and future, no direction of time

and phenomena like friction producing heat and increasing

entropy in irreversible processes do not occur. Besides, he

also criticizes the large number of adjustable parameters and

thus the lack of ‘beauty’ in the standard model and the

fact that even rather simple systems like a double-pendulum

obey nonlinear (NL) equations of motion that may lead to

chaotic time-evolution. Also many other phenomena in our

surrounding world (like the weather) obey NL evolution

equations. On the other hand, the most fundamental and

successful theory, quantum theory, is supposedly a linear

theory. Is it possible to unite the missing aspects of non-

linearity, irreversibility and dissipation with the existing

fundamental theories, particularly with quantum mechanics?

In this paper, it shall be shown that a positive answer can

be given to this question if certain ‘prejudices’ are abandoned.

This will lead to a NL formulation of quantum mechanics

that still allows for a superposition principle and is based

on a complex, quadratically-nonlinear Riccati equation and

the replacement of energy by action as the fundamental

quantity in physics. This formulation is advantageous because

it is also to be found in the same mathematical form

in other ﬁelds of physics, like optics, quantum optics,

Bose–Einstein condensates (BEC), supersymmetric (SUSY)

quantum mechanics, NL dynamics, cosmology and others.

2. The roots of ‘quantization’

Considering quantum mechanics, properties come to mind

like linear wave equation (and thus superposition principle),

wave-particle duality, uncertainty principle, quantized energy

levels etc. But what are really the essential differences

between classical and quantum physics?

0031-8949/13/038117+10$33.00 Printed in the UK & the USA 1 © 2013 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

The era of quantum physics began around 1900 [2] with

Max Planck’s introduction of h, the quantum of action, that

he needed to quantize the energy of the harmonic oscillator

(HO). So the actual quantized quantity is action, not energy;

the quantized energy of the HO is only a consequence of the

constant frequency ω

0

of the oscillator; for a time-dependent

(TD) frequency ω(t ) it looks quite different, as will be

discussed later.

In classical as well as in quantum mechanics, the

Hamiltonian, representing the energy of the system and

containing the potential from which the force can be derived,

plays the dominant role. For the HO with TD frequency, the

Hamiltonian is no longer a constant of motion, but an invariant

still exists with the dimension of an action in this case. In the

Riccati equations that occur in SUSY quantum mechanics and

in our NL version of quantum mechanics, the potential plays

only the role of an inhomogeneity that essentially enters in a

particular solution of the corresponding differential equation.

Another fundamental difference between classical and

quantum physics, as stated by Yang in his talk ‘square root

of minus one, complex phase and Erwin Schr¨ odinger’ [3], is

that with quantum mechanics, for the ﬁrst time, the imaginary

unit enters physics in a fundamental way and ‘complex

numbers became a conceptual element of the very foundations

of physics’. He continues that the very meaning of the

fundamental equations of matrix mechanics (Heisenberg’s

commutation relation) and of wave mechanics (the TD

Schr¨ odinger equation (SE)) ‘would be totally destroyed if one

tries to get rid of i by writing them in terms of real and

imaginary parts’.

I totally agree with this statement but want to go a step

further. The reason it is not sufﬁcient to simply write these

complex equations in terms of two real ones is due to the

fact that real and imaginary parts, or phase and amplitude,

respectively, are not independent of each other but coupled

via some kind of conservation law, as will be shown below.

Where does the idea of quantization actually originate?

And what is it that should be quantized? In the western culture

one might ﬁrst think of the Greek philosopher Democritus

(about 460–about 371 BC) and his idea of dividing our world

into minute components that are not further divisible, leading

to the term ‘atom’ that is still used for the building blocks

of our physical world which, for some time, seemed further

indivisible.

A similar idea was formulated in a more abstract way

by another equally famous Greek philosopher living around

the same time. In his work Timaios, Plato (428/27–348/47

BC) gives his view of how the world is built up in terms

of right-angled triangles, essentially his ‘quanta’. Werner

Heisenberg, equally fascinated with, and puzzled by, this text,

summarizes this idea [4] in the general sense as follows:

‘Matter is made up of right-angled triangles which, after

being paired to form isosceles triangles or squares, are joined

together to build the regular bodies of stereometry: cube,

tetrahedron, octahedron and icosahedron. These four solids

are then supposed to be the basic units of the four elements

earth, ﬁre, air and water’.

So, geometric objects like right-angled triangles should

be the quanta of nature. But one could go even further and

ask if particular right-angled triangles might play a special

role in quantization. Yet another Greek philosopher enters the

scene. We remember Pythagoras’ theorem from school, i.e.

a

2

+b

2

= c

2

where a and b are the two shorter sides (catheti)

and c is the longest side (hypotenuse) of a right-angled

triangle. Pythagoras (around 570–500 BC) and his disciples

were well-known for their dogma ‘everything is number’,

with number meaning integer. So let us look for right-angled

triangles where the lengths of all three sides are integers

(a kind of ‘second quantization’) fulﬁlling the Pythagorean

theorem. The most common example for such a Pythagorean

triple is (3, 4, 5) with 9 +16 = 25. But, asked for a few more

examples of the kind, even mathematically-afﬁliated persons

have difﬁculties ﬁnding any—although an inﬁnite number of

triples exists! Moreover, there is even a rather simple rule of

ﬁnding these triples. This rule was probably already known

to the Babylonians more than 3500 years ago [5] but, at

least, Diophantus of Alexandria (around 250 AD) knew of it.

Why do I mention this here? What does this have to do with

quantum mechanics? In the following it will be shown that

from the dynamics of Gaussian wave packet (WP) solutions

of the TDSE a complex NL evolution equation (Riccati

equation) can be obtained that also contains the key for the

answer to the above question of obtaining the Pythagorean

triple. This complex Riccati equation will lead to a dynamical

invariant that has the dimension of an action and still exists

for cases where the Hamiltonian is no longer invariant; e.g.

for the HO with TD frequency or certain dissipative systems.

This will also allow for the construction of generalized

creation/annihilation operators and corresponding coherent

states (CS).

The same type of NL Riccati equations also occur in

time-independent (TI) SE, as well as in BECs, cosmology and

other ﬁelds mentioned before. More details will be given in

sections 4 and 6.

In section 3, the WP solutions of the TDSE and the

corresponding complex Riccati equation will be discussed.

A generalization to include irreversibility and dissipation

leading to new qualitative properties like bifurcations will

be outlined in section 5 and a comparison with systems

showing relaxation, scale-invariance or both, as they occur

in NL dynamics, will be given in section 6. A summary and

perspectives conclude the paper.

3. Time-dependent Schr¨ odinger equation (SE),

complex Riccati equation and dynamical invariant

In the following, one-dimensional problems with exact

analytic solutions of the TDSE in the form of Gaussian WPs

will be considered, particularly the free motion (potential

V(x) = 0) and the HO (V =

m

2

ω

2

x

2

) with constant frequency,

ω = ω

0

, or TD frequency, ω = ω(t ). In these cases, the

solution of the TDSE (here for the HO, the case V = 0, in

the following, is always obtained in the limit ω → 0)

i

¯

h

∂

∂t

(x, t ) =

_

−

¯

h

2

2m

∂

2

∂x

2

+

m

2

ω

2

x

2

_

(x, t ), (1)

(where

¯

h =

h

2π

) can be written as

(x, t ) = N(t ) exp

_

i

_

y(t ) ˜ x

2

+

p

¯

h

˜ x + K(t )

__

(2)

2

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

with the shifted coordinate ˜ x = x − x = x −η(t ), where

the mean value x =

_

+∞

−∞

∗

x dx = η(t ) corresponds to

the classical trajectory, p = m˙ η represents the classical

momentum and the coefﬁcient of the quadratic term in the

exponent, y(t ) = y

R

(t ) +iy

I

(t ), is a complex function of time.

The (possibly TD) normalization factor N(t ) and the purely

TD function K(t ) in the exponent are not relevant to the

following discussion in this section.

The equations of motion for η(t ) and y(t ), or

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

,

that are obtained by inserting WP (2) into equation (1), are

important for our purpose and given by

¨ η +ω

2

η = 0, (3)

and

_

2

¯

h

m

˙ y

_

+

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

2

+ω

2

= 0, (4)

where overdots denote derivatives with respect to time. The

Newtonian equation (3) simply means that the maximum

of the WP, located at x = x = η(t ), follows the classical

trajectory. The equation for the quantity

2¯ h

m

y(t ) has the

form a of a complex NL Riccati equation and describes

the time-dependence of the WP width that is related with

the position uncertainty via y

I

=

1

4 ˜ x

2

with ˜ x

2

= x

2

−

x

2

being the mean square deviation of position. This

quadratically NL complex equation will be the link to our

‘Pythagorean quantization’ as well as to an invariant with the

dimension of an action.

To show this, a new (real) variable α(t ) is introduced

via

_

2¯ h

m

y

I

_

=

1

α

2

. Inserting this into the imaginary part of

equation (4) allows one to determine the real part of the

variable as

_

2¯ h

m

y

R

_

=

˙ α

α

, which, when inserted into the real

part of (4) together with the above deﬁnition of

_

2¯ h

m

y

I

_

, ﬁnally

turns the complex Riccati equation into the real NL so-called

Ermakov equation

1

for α(t ),

¨ α +ω

2

α =

1

α

3

. (5)

It had been shown by Ermakov [9] in 1880, i.e. 45 years

before quantum mechanics was formulated by Schr¨ odinger

and Heisenberg, that from the pair of equations (3) and (5),

coupled via ω

2

, by eliminating ω

2

from the equations, a

dynamical invariant, the Ermakov-invariant

I

L

=

1

2

_

(˙ ηα −η ˙ α)

2

+

_

η

α

_

2

_

= const (6)

can be obtained (this invariant was rediscovered by several

authors, also in a quantum mechanical context; see,

e.g. [10–12]).

This invariant has (at least) two remarkable properties:

(i) it is also a constant of motion for ω = ω(t ), in the

case where the corresponding Hamiltonian does not have

this property; (ii) apart from a missing constant factor m,

1

The author is grateful to the referee for bringing to his attention that this

equation had been studied already in 1874 by Steen [6]. However, Steen’s

work was ignored by mathematicians and physicists for more than a century,

because it was published in Danish in a journal usually not containing many

articles on mathematics. An English translation of the original paper [7] and

generalizations can be found in [8].

i.e. mass of the system, it has the dimension of an action,

not of an energy. The missing factor m is due to the fact

that Ermakov used the mathematical equation (3), whereas

in a physical context, Newton’s equation of motion, i.e.

equation (3) multiplied by m, is relevant.

Furthermore, as will be shown below, an invariant of this

type also exists for certain dissipative systems, i.e. systems

for which a conventional Hamiltonian does not even exist.

Also, factorization of the corresponding operator leads to

generalized creation and annihilation operators (see end of

this section). In this context, the complex Riccati equation (4)

again plays the central role.

There are different ways of treating the (inhomogeneous)

Riccati equation. Instead of transforming it into the (real)

NL Ermakov equation (5), it can be solved directly by

transforming it into a homogeneous NL (complex) Bernoulli

equation if a particular solution

_

2¯ h

m

˜ y

_

of the Riccati equation

is known. The general solution of equation (4) is then given

by

2¯ h

m

y =

2¯ h

m

˜ y +

2¯ h

m

v(t ) where

2¯ h

m

v(t ) fulﬁls the Bernoulli

equation

_

2

¯

h

m

˙ v

_

+

_

4

¯

h

m

˜ y

__

2

¯

h

m

v

_

+

_

2

¯

h

m

v

_

2

= 0. (7)

The coefﬁcient A = 2(

2¯ h

m

˜ y) of the linear term depends

on the particular solution. Equation (7) can be linearized via

2¯ h

m

v =

1

w(t )

to yield

˙ w− Aw = 1, (8)

which can be solved straightforwardly. For constant A, w(t )

can be expressed in terms of exponential or hyperbolic

functions (for real A) or trigonometric functions (for

imaginary A). For A being TD, w(t ) and hence

2¯ h

m

v(t ) can be

expressed in terms of I(t ) =

_

t

dt

e

−

_

t

dt

A(t

)

. So the general

solution of equation (4) can be written as

2

¯

h

m

y(t ) =

2

¯

h

m

˜ y +

d

dt

ln [w

0

+I(t )], (9)

deﬁning a one-parameter family of solutions depending on the

(complex) initial value of w

0

=

_

2¯ h

m

v

0

_

−1

as parameter.

Comparison with SUSY quantum mechanics [13, 14]

shows that this solution is formally identical to the most

general superpotential W(x), fulﬁlling a real Riccati equation

and leading to a one-parameter family of isospectral potentials

that have the same SUSY partner potential (see, e.g. [15–17]).

A major difference between the SUSY situation and the one

in our TD case (apart from replacing the spatial variable

by a temporal one) is the fact that the variables of the NL

equations (4) and (7) are complex, whereas W(x) is real. Also,

the parameter w

0

=

_

2¯ h

m

v

0

_

−1

in our case is generally complex

and determines the initial conditions.

Another property of the Riccati equation, particularly

interesting in a quantum mechanical context, is the existence

of a superposition principle for this NL differential

equation [18–20]. This is related to the fact that the Riccati

equation can always be linearized. In our case, this can be

achieved using the ansatz

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

=

˙

λ

λ

, (10)

3

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

with complex λ(t ), leading to

¨

λ +ω

2

(t )λ = 0, (11)

which has the form of the Newton-type equation (3) of the

corresponding problem, but now for a complex variable.

First, a kind of geometric interpretation of the motion

of λ in the complex plane shall be given. Expressed in

Cartesian coordinates, λ can be written as λ = u +iz, or in

polar coordinates as λ = α e

iϕ

. Inserting the polar form into

equation (10) leads to

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

=

˙ α

α

+i ˙ ϕ, (12)

where the real part is already identical to

2¯ h

m

y

R

, as deﬁned

above.

The quantity α deﬁned above in

2¯ h

m

y

I

as being

proportional to the position uncertainty is identical to the

absolute value of λ if it can be shown that

˙ ϕ =

1

α

2

. (13)

This, however, can be proven by simply inserting real and

imaginary parts of (12) into the imaginary part of the Riccati

equation (4). Comparing relation (13), that can also be written

in the form

˙ zu − ˙ uz = α

2

˙ ϕ = 1, (14)

with the motion of a particle under the inﬂuence of a

central force in two-dimensional physical space, it shows

that this relation corresponds to the ‘conservation of angular

momentum’, but here for the motion in the complex plane!

Relation (14) also shows, that real and imaginary parts,

or phase and amplitude, respectively, of the complex quantity

are not independent of each other but uniquely coupled. This

coupling, which is, as mentioned in the introduction, typical

for quantum systems (but not only for these) is due to the

quadratic nonlinearity in the Riccati equation. We will ﬁnd an

analogous situation also in the TI case, discussed in the next

section.

It should also be mentioned that the real part of the

variable

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

, as given in equation (12), does not depend on

the actual ‘size’ of α since only the relative change in time

matters; so this quantity is invariant on different scales.

The variables α, ˙ α and ˙ ϕ allow one to express the

uncertainties of position and momentum in a way that the

corresponding contribution to the energy of the WP can be

written in Lagrangian or Hamiltonian form. The uncertainties

then read

˜ x

2

L

=

¯

h

2m

α

2

L

, ˜ p

2

L

=

¯

hm

2

_

˙ α

2

L

+ ˙ ϕ

2

α

2

L

_

,

[ ˜ x, ˜ p]

+

L

=

¯

h ˙ α

L

α

L

, U

L

=

¯

h

2

4

_

1 +( ˙ α

L

α

L

)

2

_

,

(15)

where U

L

= ˜ x

2

L

˜ p

2

L

, ˜ p = p − p and [. . . , . . .]

+

denotes

the anti-commutator (the subscript L has been added to

distinguish between quantities corresponding to the linear

SE and those related to its NL modiﬁcation, described in

section 5).

The energy of the WP can be written as

E = H

L

= E

cl

+

˜

E (16)

with the classical energy E

cl

=

m

2

˙ η

2

+

m

2

ω

2

η

2

=

1

2m

p

2

+

m

2

ω

2

x

2

and the contribution from the uncertainties

(corresponding to the ground-state energy

˜

E = E

0

=

¯ h

2

ω) in

the form

˜

E =

˜ p

2

2m

+

m

2

ω

2

˜ x

2

=

¯

h

4

{ ˙ α

2

+ ˙ ϕ

2

α

2

+ω

2

α

2

}. (17)

In search of a Hamiltonian formalismfor the uncertainties

similar to the classical Hamiltonian formalism, one can try

using the difference

˜

L =

1

2m

˜ p

2

−

m

2

ω

2

˜ x

2

, expressed in

terms of α, ˙ α and ˙ ϕ, as a kind of Lagrangian to determine

the corresponding canonical momenta, leading to

∂

˜

L

∂ ˙ α

= p

α

=

¯

h

2

˙ α and

∂

˜

L

∂ ˙ ϕ

= p

ϕ

=

¯

h

2

α

2

˙ ϕ =

¯

h

2

. (18)

So,

˜

E can ﬁnally be written as a Hamiltonian in the form

˜

H(α, p

α

, ϕ, p

ϕ

) =

p

2

α

¯

h

+

p

2

ϕ

¯

hα

2

+

¯

h

4

ω

2

α

2

, (19)

which yields the correct Hamiltonian equation of motion

equivalent to the Ermakov equation (5) for α(t ).

Let us now try to establish the relation to the Pythagorean

triples, introduced in section 2. For this purpose we consider

the complex quantity C =R+iI =

2¯ h

m

y =

˙ α

α

+i ˙ ϕ, where R=

˙ α

α

and I = ˙ ϕ =

1

α

2

can be considered the catheti and the

absolute value |

2¯ h

m

y| =

_

_

˙ α

α

_

2

+ ˙ ϕ

2

the hypothenuse of a

right-angled triangle in the complex plane.

Allow for a short intermezzo before proceeding to the

triples. If we multiply all three sides by

¯ h

2

α

2

we obtain as new

catheti a =

¯ h

2

˙ αα, b =

¯ h

2

= p

ϕ

and thus Pythagoras’ theorem

gives us the uncertainty relation expressed as products of

the canonical variables we introduced above, i.e. a

2

+b

2

= c

2

yields

p

2

ϕ

+(αp

α

)

2

=

¯

h

2

4

_

1 +( ˙ αα)

2

_

= U

L

. (20)

Now let us return to the time evolution of our complex

quantity C =

2¯ h

m

y. In the following, only the case V = 0 (i.e.

ω = 0) will be considered explicitly. As shown above, with a

particular solution of the Riccati equation its inhomogeneity

can always be removed. The resulting additional linear term

(at least for constant coefﬁcient A) can also be removed. So

we are dealing with a complex equation of the form

d

dt

C +C

2

= 0. (21)

Then −

d

dt

C is also a complex quantity, C

2

, where its real

and imaginary parts as well as its absolute value again deﬁne

a right-angled triangle (in the complex plane) and each side

contains contributions from R and I, i.e. {C

2

} =R

2

−I

2

,

{C

2

} = 2 RI and |C|

2

=R

2

+I

2

.

If we now assume that R and I are integers (with

R > I), all three sides of the right-angled triangle created

by C

2

in the complex plane are also integers. As examples, we

4

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

choose: (a) R= 2, I = 1: R

2

−I

2

= 3, 2 RI = 4, R

2

+I

2

=

5 with 9 +16 = 25; (b) R= 3, I = 2: R

2

−I

2

= 5, 2 RI =

12 and R

2

+I

2

= 13 with 25 +144 = 169.

All possible Pythagorean triples can be obtained in this

way

2

just by applying all integers R and I with R>I. In a

physical context this means that whenever a physical quantity

obeys a complex Riccati equation and this quantity can be

‘quantized’ in the sense that its real and imaginary parts can

be expressed as multiples of some units, its evolution (in time

or space, depending on the respective derivative) can also

be expressed in terms of the same units. An example of a

Riccati equation where the complex variable depends on space

(instead of time) will be given in the next section.

To conclude the discussion based on WP solutions of

the TDSE which (particularly in the context of quantum

optics) can also be considered as CSs, it shall also be shown

how the complex Riccati variable can be used to deﬁne

generalized creation/annihilation operators. These can be

used to construct CSs with TD width that are no minimum

uncertainty WPs but fulﬁl the Schr¨ odinger–Robertson

uncertainty relation [22, 23].

WPs with TD width are not only known from the TDSE

for the free motion. They also occur for the HO with constant

frequency ω

0

if the initial state is not the ground state (leading

to oscillating width), for the HO with TD frequency ω(t )

and for effective Hamiltonians describing open dissipative

quantum systems.

The standard creation/annihilation operators can be

obtained by factorizing the Hamiltonian H

op

of the HO

[24, 25] or an operator related to it via

ˆ

H

op

=

H

op

¯

hω

0

= (a

+

a +

1

2

), (22)

where a

+

a is the so-called number operator and the creation

and annihilation operators are deﬁned by

a

+

=−i

_

m

2

¯

hω

0

_

p

op

m

+i ω

0

x

_

=

1

2

¯

hω

0

_

−

¯

h

√

m

∂

∂x

+

√

mω

0

x

_

,

(23)

a =i

_

m

2

¯

hω

0

_

p

op

m

−i ω

0

x

_

=

1

2

¯

hω

0

_

¯

h

√

m

∂

∂x

+

√

mω

0

x

_

,

(24)

where p

op

=

¯ h

i

∂

∂x

and a is the adjoint operator of a

+

.

The number that is the eigenvalue of a

+

a is the number

of quanta of the action

¯

h since

H

op

ω

0

has the dimension of an

action! With the help of a, the ground state wave function

can be obtained and from this, by successive application of

a

+

, the excited states can be created. Via superposition of

all these states, Schr¨ odinger obtained a stable Gaussian WP

(with constant width) [26]. Generalizations of Schr¨ odinger’s

approach were achieved for the description of coherent

2

The Pythagorean triples can also be understood in terms of rational

number points on the unit circle. This can be seen dividing both sides of

the Pythagorean theorem by c

2

leading to

_

a

c

_

2

+

_

b

c

_

2

= 1. Therefore, a

correspondence between points on the unit circle with rational coordinates

and Pythagorean triples exists. The abovementioned algorithm can then be

derived by trigonometric methods or by stereographic projection. For further

details, see e.g. [21].

light beams emitted by lasers in terms of what is now

called CS.

One of at least three different deﬁnitions of CSs is

that these are eigenstates of the annihilation operator a with

(complex) eigenvalue z, a|z = z|z. Comparing the CS |z

for the HO with the minimum uncertainty WP solution in

the form of equation (2), it shows that ω

0

=

2¯ h

m

y

I

=

1

α

2

0

. So,

in deﬁnitions (23) and (24), iω

0

can be replaced by i

2¯ h

m

y

I

.

Therefore, for the more general case of WPs or CSs with TD

width,

_

2¯ h

m

y

R

= 0

_

, iω

0

must be replaced by the full complex

quantity

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

in a and by

_

2¯ h

m

y

∗

_

in the adjoint operator a

+

.

If one then substitutes

1

√

ω

0

= α

0

in front of the brackets with

α(t ), the generalized creation and annihilation operators take

the form

a

+

(t ) = −i

_

m

2

¯

h

α(t )

_

p

op

m

−

_

2

¯

h

m

y

∗

_

x

_

(25)

a(t ) = i

_

m

2

¯

h

α(t )

_

p

op

m

−

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

x

_

. (26)

These operators can even be turned into constants of

motion if an additional phase factor is taken into account.

But in the case of CSs, as discussed here, this factor can

be absorbed into the phase of the CS and will therefore be

omitted in the following (for further details see [27]).

Employing the above deﬁnition of the CS, but now

with our generalized annihilation operator, i.e. a(t )|z = z|z,

the CS (in position representation, x|z =

z

(x, t )) can be

obtained as

z

(x, t ) =

_

m

π

¯

h

_

1/4

λ

−1/2

exp

_

i

_

y ˜ x

2

+

p ˜ x

¯

h

+

px

2

¯

h

__

,

(27)

which is in complete agreement with our WP deﬁnition (2)

(here, also N(t ) and K(t ) are now speciﬁed).

From the mean values of position and momentum, x

z

=

η and p

z

= m˙ η, calculated with these CSs, the real and

imaginary parts of the complex eigenvalue z = z

R

+iz

I

can be

determined to be

z

R

=

_

m

2

¯

h

_

η

α

_

, z

I

=

_

m

2

¯

h

(˙ ηα −η ˙ α) , (28)

which looks familiar when compared with the Ermakov

invariant (6). Indeed, the absolute square of z is, up to a

constant factor, identical to I

L

,

I

L

=

¯

h

m

_

z

2

I

+ z

2

R

_

=

¯

h

m

zz

∗

=

¯

h

m

|z|

2

. (29)

An operator, corresponding to I

L

can then be written in

analogy to

ˆ

H

op

=

H

op

¯ hω

0

as

m

¯

h

I

L,op

= [a

+

(t ) a(t ) +

1

2

]. (30)

Factorization of this operator was also used [28] to ﬁnd

generalized creation and annihilation operators for the HO

with TD frequency but these operators were expressed in

terms of α and ˙ α or in terms of a complex variable [29]

5

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

corresponding to λ(t ) which fulﬁlls the linear equation (11)

instead of

2¯ h

m

y fulﬁlling the NL equation (4). The Riccati

equation (4) for

2¯ h

m

y can be solved directly, as shown above.

The sensitivity of the solutions to the initial conditions

becomes obvious immediately and the Riccati form is still

valid in cases where a dissipative environment is taken into

account (see below); advantages the other approaches are

missing.

To conclude this section dealing with the TDSE, it

should be mentioned that a corresponding Riccati equation

for the WP width also exists in momentum space. There the

variable is just the inverse of the one in position space, i.e.

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

−1

=

λ

˙

λ

. Furthermore, the Ermakov invariant is directly

proportional to the exponent of the Wigner function which

is closest to the classical phase-space picture of the

corresponding problem (for details, see [30]).

4. Complex Riccati equations and the

time-independent SE

We have seen in the TD case that the real and imaginary

parts, or phase ϕ and amplitude α of the complex variable

λ(t ) = α e

iϕ

which fulﬁls the linear equation (11), obtained

via equation (10) from the Riccati equation (4), are not

independent of each other but coupled via the conservation

law (14). A similar situation exists when considering the

TISE, but now in the space-dependent case.

This can be shown using Madelung’s hydrodynamic

formulation of quantum mechanics [31] where the wave

function is written in polar form as

(r, t ) =

1/2

(r, t ) exp

_

i

¯

h

S(r, t )

_

(31)

with the square root of the probability density =

∗

as

amplitude and

1

¯ h

S as phase (r is the position vector in three

dimensions).

Inserting this form into the TDSE (1) (now in three

dimensions), and replacing

∂

∂x

by the nabla operator ∇), leads

to a modiﬁed Hamilton–Jacobi equation for the phase,

∂

∂t

S +

1

2m

(∇S)

2

+ V −

¯

h

2

2m

1/2

1/2

= 0, (32)

and a continuity equation for the amplitude,

∂

∂t

+

1

m

∇(∇S) = 0. (33)

Already here, the coupling of phase and amplitude can be

seen clearly since the Hamilton–Jacobi equation for the phase

S contains a term (misleadingly called ‘quantum potential’,

V

qu

) depending on , and the continuity equation for the

density contains ∇S. It can be shown that also in the TI

case this coupling is not arbitrary but related to a conservation

law.

In 1994, Reinisch [32] presented a NL formulation of

TI quantum mechanics. Since in this case

∂

∂t

= 0 and

∂

∂t

S = −E are valid, the continuity equation (33) (we now use

the notation

1/2

= || = a) turns into

∇(a

2

∇S) = 0 (34)

and the modiﬁed Hamilton–Jacobi equation into

−

¯

h

2

2m

a +(V − E) a = −

1

2m

(∇S)

2

a. (35)

Equation (34) is deﬁnitely fulﬁlled for ∇S = 0, turning

(35) into the usual TISE for the real wave function a = ||

with position-independent phase S. (NB: the kinetic energy

term divided by a is just identical to V

qu

!)

However, equation (34) can also be fulﬁlled for ∇S = 0

if only the conservation law

∇S =

C

a

2

(36)

is fulﬁlled with constant (or, at least, position-independent) C.

This relation now shows explicitly the coupling between

phase and amplitude of the wave function and is equivalent

to equation (13) in the TD case. Inserting (36) into the rhs of

equation (35) changes this into the Ermakov equation

a +

2m

¯

h

2

(E −V) a =

_

1

¯

h

∇S

_

2

a =

_

C

¯

h

_

2

1

a

3

, (37)

equivalent to equation (5) in the TD case.

A similar formulation of the TISE in terms of this

equation, but within a different context and different

applications has also been given in [33]. In another paper [34],

the relation between the Ermakov equation (37) and the

TISE has been extended to also include magnetic ﬁeld

effects. The NL differential equation (37) has also been used

to obtain numerical solutions of the TISE for single and

double-minimum potentials as well as for complex energy

resonance states; for details see [35, 36].

Returning to the method described in [32], so far the

energy E occurring in equation (37) is still a free parameter

that can take any value. However, solving this equation

numerically for arbitrary values of E leads, in general, to

solutions a that diverge for increasing x. Only if the energy

E is appropriately tuned to any eigenvalue E

n

of the TISE

(see equation (39), below) this divergence disappears and

normalizable solutions can be found. So, the quantization

condition that is usually obtained from the requirement of the

truncation of an inﬁnite series in order to avoid divergence

of the wave function is, in this case, obtained from the

requirement of nondiverging solutions of the NL Ermakov

equation (37) by variation of the parameter E. This has been

numerically veriﬁed in the case of the one-dimensional HO

and the Coulomb problem and there is the conjecture that this

property is ‘universal’ in the sense that it does not depend on

the potential V (see [32, 37]).

The corresponding complex Riccati equation is now

given by

∇

_

∇

_

+

_

∇

_

2

+

2m

¯

h

2

(E −V) = 0 (38)

with the complex variable

_

∇

_

=

∇a

a

+i

1

¯ h

∇S which corres-

ponds to

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

=

˙

λ

λ

=

˙ α

α

+i ˙ ϕ in the TD problem.

It is possible to show straightforwardly that equation (38)

can be linearized to yield the usual TISE

−

¯

h

2

2m

+ V = E, (39)

6

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

but in this form, the information on the coupling of phase and

amplitude, expressed by equation (36) and originating from

the quadratic NL term in equation (38), gets lost.

5. Dissipative systems with effective Hamiltonians

The conventional way of treating open dissipative systems

uses the system-plus reservoir approach, i.e. the system

of interest is coupled to some (in the limit inﬁnitely

many) environmental degrees of freedom (often HOs) and

system plus reservoir together are considered a closed

Hamiltonian system. Taking certain limits and applying

averaging processes ﬁnally leads to an irreversible dissipative

equation of motion for the system of interest. One of the

most often quoted approaches of that kind is the one of

Caldeira and Leggett [38, 39]. A similar idea, but with the

most minimalistic environment, namely only one additional

position variable (plus the corresponding momentum) is

behind the Bateman Hamiltonian [40] that represents a

constant of motion and provides an irreversible equation of

motion for the system,

¨ x +γ ˙ x +

1

m

∂

∂x

V = 0, (40)

i.e. a Newtonian equation with an additional linear velocity (or

momentum) dependent friction force (with friction coefﬁcient

γ ); actually the Langevin equation without stochastic force.

Since the environmental degrees of freedom are anyway

eliminated or ignored in the end, several approaches

exist where only the effect of the environment on the

observable system is taken into account without considering

the individual environmental degrees of freedom. This can

lead to modiﬁcations of the classical Lagrange/Hamilton

formalism where the corresponding modiﬁed (linear) SE

is obtained via subsequent canonical quantization. The

canonical variables of these approaches are related with the

physical position and momentum variables via non-canonical

transformations in the classical case, corresponding to

non-unitary transformations in the quantum mechanical case

(for further details see [41, 42]). The most frequently applied

approach of that kind is the one of Caldirola [43] and

Kanai [44] which is uniquely related to one using an

exponentially expanding coordinate system [45], leading to

a Hamiltonian that is still a constant of motion. These

approaches can be directly linked to the aforementioned

ones. Using standard methods to eliminate the environmental

degrees of freedom, Yu and Sun [46, 47] have shown how

the conventional approach of Caldeira–Leggett leads directly

to the Hamiltonian operator of Caldirola–Kanai. It is also

possible to eliminate the second set of variables of the

Bateman approach by imposing TD constraints [48] to get

to the Hamiltonian of the expanding system. Furthermore,

this approach and the one of Caldirola–Kanai are connected

via an explicitly TD canonical transformation. In our context

it is interesting that for these two approaches also an exact

Ermakov invariant exists. In the quantized version, Gaussian

WP solutions can be obtained in the same cases as in

the conventional reversible theory, but now the maximum

follows a damped motion according to equation (40) and the

time-dependence of the width is determined by a modiﬁed

complex Riccati equation that can again be transformed into a

(real) Ermakov-type equation.

Another type of effective approaches starts already on the

quantum level by adding some friction terms W(x, p

op

, t ; )

to the Hamiltonian operator. This usually leads to NL

Hamiltonians, H

NL

= H

L

+ W, where quite different forms of

nonlinearities are considered in the literature (some are NL

only because some mean-value · · · occurs in W) [49–60]

3

.

Of these, an exact invariant was found [61, 62] for only two

approaches [58, 59].

In the following, only those NLSEs possessing an

Ermakov invariant shall be discussed explicitly since it can

be shown that the canonical approaches are unambiguously

related to these by a non-unitary transformation [41, 42].

In particular, the equations of motion for the WP maximum

and width can be uniquely transformed into each other [42].

The approach of Hasse [58] uses a combination of products

of position and momentum operators and their mean

values. The other one [59] is based on an irreversible

Fokker–Planck-type equation for the probability density that

is obtained from the usual continuity equation by adding a

time-symmetry-breaking diffusion term. Following a method

by Madelung and Mrowka [63, 64] this (real) so-called

Smoluchowski equation can be separated into two complex

equations: namely a modiﬁed SE for the wave function and

its complex conjugate

∗

, provided the separation condition

− D

∂

2

∂x

2

= γ (ln − ln ) (41)

with diffusion coefﬁcient D is fulﬁlled (for details see,

e.g. [59, 66]).

This leads to the NLSE

i

¯

h

∂

∂t

NL

(x, t ) =

_

H

L

+γ

¯

h

i

(ln

NL

− ln

NL

)

_

NL

(x, t )

(42)

with a complex logarithmic nonlinearity.

The additional NL term (W

SCH

) can be written as real and

imaginary contributions in the form

W

SCH

= W

R

+iW

I

=

γ

2

¯

h

i

_

ln

NL

∗

NL

−

_

ln

NL

∗

NL

__

+

γ

2

¯

h

i

(ln

NL

− ln

NL

) , (43)

where the real part only depends on the phase of the wave

function and provides the friction force in the averaged

equation of motion. The imaginary part does not contribute to

dissipation but introduces irreversibility into the evolution of

the wave function. It corresponds to the diffusion term in the

Smoluchowski equation, but still allows for normalizability

due to the subtraction of the mean value of ln . Comparison

with the afore-mentioned approaches shows that the real part

is just identical to Kostin’s term [54] and the imaginary part

corresponds to Beretta’s term [51–53] introduced to describe

non-equilibrium systems (without dissipation).

The imaginary part breaks the time-reversal symmetry on

the level of the probability density, introduces a non-unitary

time evolution and turns the Hamiltonian into a non-Hermitian

3

S¨ ussmann [57] is quoted in [58].

7

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

one while still guaranteeing normalizable wave functions and

real energy mean values since its mean value vanishes.

An interesting interpretation of W

I

can be found if one

identiﬁes, according to Gr¨ ossing et al [65], the Einstein

diffusion coefﬁcient with the quantum mechanical one (if

the SE is considered a diffusion equation with imaginary

diffusion coefﬁcient), i.e. D =

kT

mγ

=

¯ h

2m

with temperature T

and Boltzmann’s constant k. Then, W

I

turns into

W

I

= −iTk (ln

NL

− ln

NL

) , (44)

where −kln = −k

_

+∞

−∞

ln dx has a form like the

deﬁnition of entropy, S. So, the mean value of the linear

Hamiltonian that still represents the energy of the system,

H

L

= E, together with the second term of (44) would look

like E −iTS, i.e. it has similarity with an expression for

the free energy only that here, again, the imaginary unit i

turns up in the quantum mechanical context. This point still

needs further investigation. In the context of our logarithmic

NLSE (42),

NL

is the probability density corresponding to

the Gaussian WP, which can be considered as a pure state,

so a direct comparison with the von Neumann entropy in the

usual way seems problematic. However, in Beretta’s work W

I

is discussed in the context of density operators and direct links

to an interpretation in terms of entropy are given [51–53].

Also from the real part of W

SCH

no additional term

to the energy mean value occurs, so this is still given by

the mean value of the operators of kinetic and potential

energies. This real part is however not arbitrary but is uniquely

determined by the separation condition and provides the

correct dissipative friction forces in the equation of motion for

the mean values. Besides, the ratio of energy dissipation (for

the classical contribution) is in agreement with the classical

counterpart and arises because the mean values are calculated

with

NL

(the solution of equation (42)) instead of

L

.

The real part, by itself, would provide dissipation

but retain a unitary time-evolution of the wave function,

whereas the imaginary part, on its own, would provide

irreversibility via a non-unitary time-evolution but no

dissipation. Consequently only the combination of real and

imaginary parts provides all the desired properties of the

quantumsystemunder consideration. The reason for this is the

coupling of phase and amplitude of the wave function since

W

R

depends on the phase and W

I

on the amplitude.

The relation between the two NL approaches is discussed

in detail in [42] and can be traced back to a modiﬁcation of

the Riccati equation (38) by adding a linear term. The two

NLSEs have the same WP solutions where, in both cases, the

maximum η(t ) follows an equation of motion, like (40), with

a linear friction force and the WP width is determined by the

modiﬁed Riccati equation

_

2

¯

h

m

˙ y

_

NL

+γ

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

NL

+

_

2

¯

h

m

y

_

2

NL

+ω

2

(t ) = 0 (45)

with an additional linear term depending on γ .

As in the conservative case,

_

2¯ h

m

y

I

_

NL

=

¯ h

2 m ˜ x

2

NL

=

1

α

2

NL

is

valid but the real part of the complex Riccati variable now

takes the modiﬁed form

_

2

¯

h

m

y

R

_

NL

=

˙ α

NL

α

NL

−

γ

2

. (46)

The corresponding Ermakov equation and invariant are

given now by

¨ α

NL

+

_

ω

2

−

γ

2

4

_

α

NL

=

1

α

3

NL

(47)

and

I

NL

=

1

2

α

2

NL

__

˙ η −

_

˙ α

NL

α

NL

−

γ

2

_

η

_

2

+

_

1

α

2

NL

η

_

2

_

e

γ t

= const. (48)

From this it is obvious that, apart from the factor e

γ t

, I

NL

can be written in exactly the same form as in the conservative

case if expressed in terms of η and

_

2¯ h

m

y

_

instead of α and

˙ α, i.e.

I

NL

=

1

2

α

2

NL

_

_

˙ η −

_

2

¯

h

m

y

R

_

NL

η

_

2

+

__

2

¯

h

m

y

I

_

NL

η

_

2

_

e

γ t

,

(49)

which again shows the more universal validity of relations

when expressed in terms of the Riccati variable. Also, in

this dissipative case, the invariant (without the exponential

factor) can be factorized to yield generalized creation and

annihilation operators where the CSs obtained as eigenstates

of the annihilation operator are identical to the WP solutions

of the NLSEs (for details, see [27]).

6. Similarities with nonlinear dynamics and other

ﬁelds of physics

In NL dynamics, an important phenomenon is the Hopf

bifurcation as it can be the ﬁrst step on a route to turbulence

and chaos [67]. A system displaying this property can be

described by the NL evolution equation

˙ r +r +r

3

= 0, (50)

which has the solution

r

2

(t ) =

r

2

0

e

−2t

r

2

0

(1 −e

−2t

) +

. (51)

For 0, the trajectory approaches a ﬁxed point (the

origin); however, for < 0, it spirals towards a limit cycle

with radius r

∞

= ||

1/2

[67]. The same type of differential

equation is also discussed by Großmann with respect to

self-similarity and scale-invariance (see [68]).

The relation to our Riccati equations (4) or (45) is easily

seen by multiplying equation (50) by 4r and introducing a new

variable R = 2r

2

, leading to

˙

R +2R + R

2

= 0. (52)

This is exactly the form of the Bernoulli equation (7) that

can be obtained if a particular solution

_

2¯ h

m

˜ y

_

of the Riccati

equation is known. The coefﬁcient 2 of the linear term in

equation (52), corresponds to A = 2

_

2¯ h

m

˜ y

_

in equation (7) and,

in the dissipative case, is simply replaced by A = 2

_

2¯ h

m

˜ y

_

+γ .

It has indeed been shown that, in the dissipative case, this

8

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

bifurcation occurs and one obtains two different WP solutions

with different spreading behaviour of the WP width, different

uncertainties and different energies (for details, see [69]).

Another system with cubic nonlinearity is the Gross–

Pitaevskii equation

i

¯

h

∂

∂t

=

_

−

¯

h

2

2m

+ V(r, t ) + g||

2

_

, (53)

which is used in a mean ﬁeld approximation to describe

the macroscopic WP of a BEC where V(r, t ) can be

given by V(r, t ) =

m

2

ω

2

(t )r

2

, i.e. a HO with TD frequency;

g parameterizes the strength of the atomic interaction.

Although equation (53) cannot be solved analytically, the

dynamics of the BEC characterized by this equation can be

described in terms of so-called moments M

n

(n = 1 −4) (for

details, see e.g. [70]), where M

1

represents the norm, M

2

the

width, M

3

the radial momentum and M

4

the energy of the WP.

It can be shown that these moments satisfy a set of coupled

ﬁrst-order differential equations (where

d

dt

M

1

corresponds to

the conservation of probability or particle number). This set

can be reduced to a single equation for M

2

which can be

expressed, using a new variable X =

√

M

2

, in the form of an

Ermakov equation,

¨

X +ω

2

(t )X =

k

X

3

, (54)

which, as shown in section 3, is equivalent to a complex

Riccati equation.

To include dissipative effects, one could add another

NL term like the logarithmic one from equation (42) to

the Gross–Pitaevskii equation which would correspond to

adding a linear term to the Riccati equation. So, one

simply has to solve this modiﬁed Riccati equation (or the

corresponding Ermakov equation) to obtain all moments M

n

for the dissipative BEC [71].

This treatment of the BEC is also interesting for

another reason. It has been shown by Lidsey [72] that a

correspondence can be established between positively-curved

isotropic, perfect ﬂuid cosmologies and the two-dimensional

harmonically-trapped BEC by mapping the equations of

motion for both systems onto a one-dimensional Ermakov

equation. The moments M

n

deﬁned above can be identiﬁed

in the cosmological context with M

2

= scale factor, M

3

=

Hubble expansion parameter and M

4

= energy density of the

Universe. So the expanding Universe can be represented as an

Ermakov or complex Riccati system.

Without going into details, it should be noted that a

complex Riccati equation occurs also in the context of

problems related to quantum gravity (see, e.g. [73, 74]).

More examples could be mentioned from ﬁelds like elec-

trodynamics, optics, quantum optics, NL dynamics, super-

symmetry and others, but further details would go beyond the

scope of this paper.

7. Conclusions and perspectives

In classical physics only real quantities have any physical

signiﬁcance and energy in the form of Hamiltonians or

Lagrangians plays the dominant role. In quantum physics

however, action, i.e. the product of energy and time (or

position and momentum), is essentially the quantized entity.

The appearance of i =

√

−1, and hence the use of complex

quantities in quantum mechanics, is not just a matter of

mathematical convenience but has fundamental physical

meaning. In the TISE, the wave function is such a complex

quantity that fulﬁls a linear differential equation. We have

seen that this TISE is actually a linearized form of a

complex NL Riccati equation. Why should one bother with

a more complicated NL equation if there is a simpler

linear version at hand for which such nice properties like

a superposition principle exist? Because, in the linear form,

it is not obvious that real and imaginary parts, or phase

and amplitude, respectively, of the complex wave function

are not independent of each other but uniquely coupled via

a kind of conservation law. This coupling can be traced

back to the quadratic nonlinearity in the Riccati equation

and always occurs in systems that can be described by

complex Riccati equations. This complex quadratic term is

actually also the key to the ‘quantization’ problem that goes

back to Plato and Pythagoras, namely, the search for an

algorithm that supplies the so-called Pythagorean triples. This

most abstract quantization problem in terms of numbers,

particularly integers, can therefore be related to physical

quantization problems whenever the evolution (in time or

space) of the physical system can be described by a complex

Riccati equation.

We found another example of that kind in the TDSE

where the time-evolution of the quantum uncertainties obeys

such an equation. The linearized version of this Riccati

equation is just a complex Newtonian equation of motion for

a quantity λ(t ) where the coupling of phase and amplitude

of this quantity corresponds to the conservation of angular

momentum for the motion of λ in the complex plane!

The complex TD Riccati equation (or its transformed

version, the real NL Ermakov equation) together with the

classical Newtonian equation for the system, lead to a

dynamical invariant with the dimension of action. This

Ermakov invariant not only essentially determines the Wigner

function of the system but, when the corresponding operator is

factorized, one obtains generalized creation and annihilation

operators that also apply in cases where the corresponding

Hamiltonian is no longer invariant. Speciﬁcally, this is also

valid for certain dissipative systems when the Ermakov

invariant is expressed in terms of the complex Riccati variable.

This has been shown using some effective models for the

description of such open systems.

Finally, an initial link to NL dynamics was made

where properties like scale-invariance, bifurcations as a

route to chaos and other similar properties already emerge

when real Riccati equations occur. The relations to our NL

version of quantum mechanics, in particular the effect of

‘complexiﬁcation’ will be further investigated. In addition,

formal similarities to ﬁelds like SUSY quantum mechanics,

quantum optics and cosmology shall be explored.

Acknowledgments

The author would like to dedicate this paper to Professor

Francesco Iachello on the occasion of his 70th birthday in

2012.

9

Phys. Scr. 87 (2013) 038117 D Schuch

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10

yu

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qt1 Fundamental Concepts 1.1 Breakdown of Classical Physics The necessity for a departure from classical physics is demonstrated by the following phenomena: 1. Anomalous Atomic and Molecular Stability. According to classical physics, an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus undergoes acceleration and should, therefore, lose energy via the continuous emission of electromagnetic radiation, causing it to gradually spiral in towards the nucleus. Experimentally, this is not observed to happen. 2. Anomalously Low Atomic and Molecular Specific Heats. According to the equipartition theorem of classical physics, each degree of freedom of an atomic or molecular system should contribute R/2 to its molar specific heat capacity, where R is the molar ideal gas constant. In fact, only the translational, and some rotational, degrees of freedom seem to contribute. The vibrational degrees of freedom appear to make no contribution at all (except at high temperatures). Incidentally, this fundamental problem

by Jonatan Vignatti Muñoz

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